(photo by Chris McNew / Getty Images)
Two of the Missoula County commissioners hosted a forum at Imagine Nation Brewing on Thursday evening to discuss and answer questions about the taxation of medical and recreational marijuana.
The KGVO spoke to Commissioner Josh Slotnick about the forum and explained the issues that will be on the ballot for the November general election.
âThere are two issues that voters can vote on,â Slotnick said. âThe first question is, should we tax medical marijuana at 3%? This 3% is set by the state, so we have no choice. The second question was whether the county should tax recreational marijuana at 3%. And again, this 3% is set by the state.
Slotnick cited a study by the Office of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana on the amount of tax revenue the city and county can earn from the sale of recreational marijuana.
âIt was in the middle of the $ 700,000 of what the tax would generate from recreational marijuana,â he said. And then the county wouldn’t just get that roughly $ 750,000, because it’s shared with the city. We get 50 percent, the city gets 45 percent, and then the state gets 5 percent to run the program.
Slotnick said as a county official he looks forward to additional tax revenue to help reduce other tax expenditures.
âThe state will tax medical marijuana at 4%, and starting January 1, it will then tax recreational marijuana at 20%, so our 3% would be added to those things. Personally, I really hope that it will pass because we could use this money for important things like housing. Also, and this is where everyone would be excited, we can lower property taxes. “
Slotnick said that because marijuana is still illegal under federal laws, marijuana companies will not have access to banks and therefore be rich in cash, which could attract more crime to Missoula.
âBecause marijuana is illegal, money from marijuana stores and from the marijuana manufacturing industry is generally not accepted in banks (federally insured),â he said. âSo these are very cash-oriented companies. These are companies that not only have a high value product, but often have a lot of greenbacks on hand, which adds to their security requirements. The people who run these facilities do them very well. They are fortresses.
Slotnick said Missoula may examine other states where recreational marijuana has been legalized, such as Colorado, for its effects on their economies.