MISSOULA — With November's General Election now on the horizon, Missoula County commissioners are increasing their public interactions to explain a proposed tax on marijuana sales.
This past summer, county commissioners approved a ballot measure asking voters to approve or deny a 3-percent tax on the sale of marijuana, and marijuana products, following up on last year's approval legalizing recreational marijuana in Montana.
"UM's Bureau of Business and Economic Research estimated, potentially, there would be revenues of $716,000," explains County Commissioner Juanita Vero. "Yeah, that would be the amount that would help address housing issues, and like I said, help minimize the increases in property taxes. That's the goal."
When commissioners approved the ballot proposal in July, the Department of Revenue hadn't issued guidelines on using the tax. So commissioners indicated it was their "legislative intent" to use the income for "housing and property tax relief", but didn't attach that language to the ballot question.
Half the revenue would go to the county, 45% to the city of Missoula, and 5% retained for the administration of the tax.
Vero says if approved, the measure would take effect in January, capping the number of marijuana dispensaries.
"Right now we have 57 dispensaries, I guess as of the middle of September. 57-dispensaries in Missoula County. And this would not allow any new dispensaries to operate for 18-months after that January start date, so."
One ballot question is whether to tax non-medical, or just recreational marijuana. The second question would extend the tax to include medical marijuana and medical marijuana products.
The county will sponsor an informational forum on the marijuana tax Thursday evening, starting at 6 pm at Imagine Nation Brewing. Additional info is posted on the county's website.