Lawmakers consider tax on medical marijuana

BILLINGS (AP) — Montana lawmakers will be asked to consider placing a tax on the sale of medical marijuana.

Gov. Steve Bullock has proposed a 6 percent consumption tax as part of his budget. The tax would bring in about $2.6 million over two years, said the governor’s spokesman, Tim Crowe.

Rep. Bradley Hamlett, D-Great Falls, is proposing legislation that would add a 21 percent tax to help pay for drug addiction programs and another 3 percent to subsidize the cost of medical marijuana for low-income patients.

“A lot of people that would use medical marijuana don’t have the means to necessarily pay for it,” Hamlett said, “because if they’ve got chronic pain, they might be dealing with illnesses. They might be out of work.”

Hamlett says he’s putting forth the bill to spur a debate about what amount, if any, the tax should be.

The Montana Cannabis Industry Association is open to discussing a potential tax, said spokeswoman Kate Cholewa.

“There’s a long road ahead and it might be premature to react. That said, medications are not taxed in Montana so objections to singling out cannabis for taxation make sense,” she said. “The average patient spending $200 per month would be looking at a $12 per month increase in cost.”

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