Montana lawmakers not willing to follow voter-approved cannabis legislation

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A request by the state’s Department of Revenue to fund marijuana legalization has been denied

Voters in the state of Montana voted to legalize marijuana in the state back in the big November 3 elections. However, when funds were requested from the state’s Department of Revenue to fund the voter-approved cannabis legalization, lawmakers refused to participate. So now, the governor of Montana is proposing to shift in eventual tax revenue from the sales to programs that are different than the ones that were spelled out in the initiatives that were approved by Montana voters in November.

It’s a move that is difficult to understand because that same Department of Revenue stands to make more money than they have ever seen. The cannabis measure only passed by a close vote of 57 % to 43%, and state officials in Montana are supposed to start accepting marijuana business license applications by January 2022, with fees that are going to be significant. Marijuana dispensaries in California pay as much as $25,000, and then as additional $5,000 per year to keep the doors open. Retail sales should begin in late 2022 or early 2023. While the lawmakers battle out the details, legal personal marijuana possession and home cultivation took effect on January first this year.

The money that the Department of Revenue is asking for, $135 million, is insignificant when compared to the estimated income derived from that sales on marijuana in Montana. Estimates go as high as $52 million in annual tax revenue once the market is up and running. That does not even include CBD (cannabidiol) sales. However, it appears as though lawmakers aren’t willing to follow the wishes of their constituents.