Work Lies Ahead for Montana as Legalized Cannabis Industry Begins
News from www.MontanaMy420Network.com
With recreational marijuana sales legalized in the state of Montana just two months ago, this is one state not only looking forward to reaping the rewards that come from the high sales potential of the industry, but also having to deal with the issues and concerns this new industry brings.
The biggest concern comes from law enforcement. Data already shows that this is a state afflicted by a DWI epidemic, and now projections have been released from the Montana Department of Justice showing that DUI’s could also increase significantly due to marijuana use. Officials working in the justice system believe that many gaps in the rules and regulations of the industry will need to be addressed as soon as possible, being that retail shops are already scheduled to open when fall of 2021 comes around.
Although the chance of DUI numbers escalating is quite real, on the flip side is the fact that a recent study shows the economy of Montana is set up to receive a significant boost in revenue from the taxes that will be levied on the sale of legalized recreational cannabis. The Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana was part of the independent research study commissioned by New Approach Montana to examine the benefits that taxes would bring to the state.
The study found that by placing a 20 percent tax on legalized sales, the state could potentially collect between $43.4 and $52 million annually from 2022-2026, which comes to a total of $236.4 million over the five-year period. The study also showed that recreational cannabis market total sales could potentially fall between $217.2 and $259.8 million annually during that same five-year period. Add in the fact that over 15 percent of tourists to states with legal recreational cannabis visit retail stores, and the outlook of tourism dollars will make the industry even more lucrative for Montana – generating an extra $6 million in tax revenue in 2022, alone.
With these numbers, it was no surprise that the law was passed. Spelled out, Constitutional Initiative 118 amended Montana’s state constitution to allow the Legislature or voters to set the age at which adults are allowed to possess and consume marijuana; Initiative 190 legalized the sale and possession of limited amounts of marijuana and levied a 20 percent tax on the sale of non-medical marijuana in Montana. Now, residents over the age of 21 can possess an ounce of marijuana and own four plants.
However, the concern for the justice system remains. Driving under the influence of marijuana continues to be illegal and carries the same penalties as Montana’s existing DUI laws. Taking a more in-depth look at the issue, officers are currently being trained on the new recreational marijuana measure; but when it comes time to prosecute cases, things will get more complicated.
A study done by the Montana Department of Justice in conjunction with the State Division of Forensics shows the state could see a 77 percent increase in DUI cases. And although counties are prepared to take on increasing numbers that may come from illegal marijuana offenses, it’s important for residents to know that it will take extra resources, officers, prosecutors, etc., to do this – meaning the Montana taxpayer will likely be “footing the bill,” so to speak.
Even with this concern rising, advocates of Montana’s voter-approved measure say that people want marijuana legal, which is why the initiative passed in the first place. In the end, the next few months look like they will be busy ones for Montana as they work out the problems, and wait for the benefits that they believe this industry will eventually bring to the state.
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