Man who opened cannabis dispensary in Eugene sentenced for not paying federal income tax

A Portland man who opened a marijuana dispensary in Eugene in 2014 and served on the Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s Recreational Marijuana Technical Advisory Retail Subcommittee in 2015 will serve 7 months in federal prison and pay more than $262,000 after pleading guilty to four counts of failing to file personal income taxes. (AP Photo/Andrew Selsky, File)

PORTLAND, Ore. – A Portland man who opened a marijuana dispensary in Eugene in 2014 and served on the Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s Recreational Marijuana Technical Advisory Retail Subcommittee in 2015 will serve 7 months in federal prison and pay more than $262,000 after pleading guilty to four counts of failing to file personal income taxes.

A federal judge sentenced Matthew Price, 32, on Monday.

Price had pleaded guilty May 31 to failing to file personal income taxes in 2011, 2012, 2013 or 2014, the U .S. Attorney for Oregon said.

“Matthew Price attempted to live a double life—advising OLCC officials on how to regulate state-legal marijuana sales, while privately evading his personal and business tax obligations,” said Billy J. Williams, the U.S. Attorney for Oregon. “Marijuana businesses and business owners are subject to the same federal tax laws as every other business and will be scrutinized for criminal wrongdoing. Tax cheaters will not be tolerated in any industry.”

Price came to Portland in 2010 "with the financial backing of a business partner in Colorado to start a state-legal marijuana business in anticipation of Oregon’s full retail legalization," the U.S. Attorney for Oregon said in a statement, citing court documents. "Price had previously been working in a marijuana store in Colorado owned by his business partner. In December 2010, Price began operating a marijuana farmers market in Portland called Cannabliss. In mid-2013, Price and his business partner converted the business to a medical marijuana dispensary. In 2014, the pair opened two additional Cannabliss dispensaries, a second in Portland and one in Eugene, Oregon."

Price failed to file personal income tax returns in four consecutive years between 2011 and 2014, despite retaining the services of three different certified public accountants. Price’s taxable income steadily grew from $42,000 in 2011 to $590,000 in 2014. In 2015, Price was a member of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s (OLCC) Recreational Marijuana Technical Advisory Retail Subcommittee. In this capacity, Price, with other retailers, advised the OLCC in its rulemaking process for Oregon Measure 91, the Control, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana and Industrial Hemp Act.

Once released from prison, Price will serve 6 months of home detention and three years of supervised release.

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