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Cascade County commissioners discuss recreational marijuana zoning and taxes

Posted at 7:25 PM, Nov 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-12 21:28:24-05

GREAT FALLS — With the state of Montana legalizing recreational marijuana, individual counties will now have to approach how they handle the use of marijuana within their county borders. Marijuana was legalized in the state when voters passed House Bill 701 earlier this year. It will be implemented in January 2022.

Cascade County commissioners hosted a meeting Friday to discuss the zoning changes they think should be implemented in Great Falls in preparation for the new year. It is the only fully-zoned county in Montana, which means they have more land to cover and determine how it will play into the overall picture of marijuana usage.

Commissioners approved Resolution 21-59, which adds definitions of several key factors of the marijuana industry to its zoning regulation, including marijuana products, cultivation, dispensaries, and more.

Commissioner Jim Larson said the zoning regulations provide places for vendors to do business but that they should be regulated to ensure safety. “The other counties only have around their urban centers and the rest of their county is open land in that way. This way it helps us because we can narrow down where these businesses will be,” Larson said.

The zoning will include a 20% sales tax for recreational marijuana and a four percent tax on medical marijuana, as mandated by the new law.

Click here to read the complete zoning document, which includes this explanation of taxes:

A 20% sales tax will be imposed on the sale of adult-use marijuana and a 4% sales tax on the sale of medical marijuana. As of January 1, 2022, the Montana Department of Revenue regulates marijuana business, rather than the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services for medical marijuana. The tax revenue will be allocated accordingly:
  • $6 million/year for addiction treatment services
  • 20% to conservation
  • 4%, up to $650,000 each, to state parks, trails, recreational facilities, and wildlife protection
  • $200,000 to veterans’ services and improving veterans’ cemeteries
  • $150,000 for police training
  • Any remaining amount will go to the General Fund. 

There will be a 30-day public comment period before the resolution is finalized and the commission will be able to amend it as they see fit during that time.