UPDATE 9:00 P.M. — Unofficial results for the Springfield marijuana sales tax are in. The measure passed with 69.82% of voters saying yes and 30.18% of voters saying no.
Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller says turnout today was low, with approximately 4-5% of voters going to the polls.
“A lot of times when you have an issue on the ballot, your turnout’s going to be dependent upon the advocacy,” Schoeller said. “And so I haven’t seen a lot of advocacy either way on this issue, and that can also impact turnout.”
A local dispensary said they fear additional taxes will cause customers to buy marijuana illegally.
“We’re always fighting the black market, and that’s, that’s always an issue for us,” said Dan Ambrosino of Terrabis Dispensary.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The only issue brought to voters on the August ballot is an additional three percent sales tax on recreational marijuana purchases. If approved, the funding would go towards what Councilman Craig Hosmer is calling chronic problems in the city.
“It would go to law enforcement, first responders, but would also be used for alcohol and drug treatment,” Hosmer said. “It also would be used for mental health services and it will also be used for homelessness.”
Several other cities and counties have passed the additional sales tax already, including Ozark and Christian County.
“100 municipalities in the state of Missouri put it on the ballot in April,” Hosmer said. “Saint Louis, Kansas City, Columbia, Joplin, a number of municipalities, a number of counties did it. They are already receiving those funds to use for, you know, mental health services, law enforcement services, housing, and homelessness.”
Some councilmen agreed the measure should have been on the ballot in April, but Springfield city council ultimately decided to put the measure on the August ballot.
“We should have gotten it on the ballot earlier, but we felt that [there] was other conflicts with the school initiative,” Councilman Abe McGull said. “The school board had their initiatives. A lot of other candidates were running for office. So I wish we could have put it on that ballot, but we didn’t.”
The decision to put the question on the ballot in August was a costly one.
“We are having to eat the cost of $250,000 for this single issue election,” McGull said. “It generally costs them about $250,000, and that cost is split between the different initiatives that are put on the ballot.”
Both McGull and Hosmer think the measure should have been put on the ballot earlier. Both councilmen also have differing views when it comes to whether the measure will pass.
“Unfortunately, turnout will be very low,” McGull said. “But I think from the pulse of the community, I’ve talked to several people and I have every anticipation or every that this will pass.”
“It’s one of those issues that you don’t know,” Hosmer said. “There’s not been an organized effort against it, but there’s not really been an organized effort in support of it either. Sometimes people don’t really understand an issue or don’t come out and vote and that’s the thing I’m concerned about. I think it would’ve been a much better turnout in April, and I think it could have been more easily passed and also less costly.”
Recreational marijuana sales have brought in over one billion dollars in revenue for the state. Hosmer said in Springfield, sales have generated just under $2 million for the city.
Hosmer said Greene County could also decide to ask voters to impose another three percent tax on marijuana sales in the future.