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County voters to decide marijuana tax

by HEIDI DESCH
Daily Inter Lake | August 3, 2022 12:00 AM

Flathead County voters this fall will decide whether to implement a 3% tax on marijuana sales.

Flathead County commissioners in a 2-1 vote Tuesday morning passed two resolutions regarding the potential tax. Two separate questions on the ballot will ask voters whether to create a tax on recreational as well as medical sales of marijuana and marijuana products.

Commissioners Pam Holmquist and Brad Abell voted in favor of the resolutions, while Commissioner Randy Brodehl voted against them.

Brodehl said his objection to the measures comes because he’d like a plan for how the county will spend the funds generated from the potential tax.

“We’re not quite ready to make a move on this,” he said. “We have not completely discussed how the money will be spent.”

Holmquist, however, said the county still has time to figure out where the money will be spent from the “consumption tax.” She noted that she would have preferred to see the tax sunset in three to five years to give voters the opportunity to reconsider it, but that didn’t make it into the resolutions.

“At the end of the day this will benefit the different departments and we can determine where it can be put to good use,” she said.

If approved, the tax would go into effect on March 1, 2023. The county would receive 50% of the funds collected, the county’s municipalities would get 45% and 5% would go to the Montana Department of Revenue for administering the tax.

The county could see an estimated $460,000 in revenue yearly from the tax.

House Bill 701 allows a marijuana excise tax via ballot initiative in Montana counties where a majority of voters approved legalization. Flathead voters approved recreational sales by a 7 point margin in the 2020 election.

State taxes on marijuana are set at 4% for medical marijuana and 20% for adult-use sales.

Sixteen Montana counties have already created a local marijuana tax, including Lake, Missoula and Ravalli counties in western Montana.

Features Editor Heidi Desch may be reached at 758-4421 or hdesch@dailyinterlake.com.

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