(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.
“There are two issues that voters can vote on,” Slotnick said. “The 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 University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research on the amount of tax revenue the city and county can make from the sale of recreational marijuana.
“It was in the middle of the $ 700,000 of what the tax would generate from recreational marijuana,” 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 that as a county official he looked forward to additional tax revenue to help reduce other tax expenditures.
“The 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 cash rich, which could attract more crime to Missoula.
“Because marijuana is illegal, money from marijuana stores and from the marijuana manufacturing industry is generally not accepted in banks (federally insured),” he said. “So these are very cash-oriented companies. These are companies that not only have a great 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.