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Competing Marijuana Legalization Bills Introduced In The Legislature

Selection of medical recreational cannabis at a legal retail store
Zenkyphoto/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Selection of medical recreational cannabis at a legal retail store

Two competing proposals introduced Monday outline how state lawmakers would regulate the legalization of recreational marijuana in Montana.

Montana voters approved a ballot initiative in November legalizing marijuana for recreational use. The Legislature now has to decide how to regulate the substance — and to spend the money made from taxes on the sale of it.

Gov. Greg Gianforte is backing the regulation and taxation plan in a bill carried by Rep. Mike Hopkins, a Republican from Missoula. 

House Bill 701 would set up a 20% tax on recreational marijuana sales. It would funnel that revenue to the state’s general fund, after first putting $6 million toward an addiction prevention and treatment program proposed by Gianforte.

A much smaller portion of the revenue would go to state parks, trail maintenance and non-game wildlife programs. 

It would put a cap on the amount of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, allowed in products. And the bill would limit the amount of marijuana adult consumers can possess. 

Rep. Derek Skees, a Republican from Kalispell, is carrying the competing House Bill 670. It proposes a 15% tax on recreational marijuana sales and would increase the tax on medical marijuana sales from 4% to 5%. Under the bill, two-thirds of the revenue would be used to fund public employee pensions. 

Skees' bill is scheduled for a hearing in the House Business and Labor Committee Tuesday morning. Hopkins bill is expected to be heard later this week. 

Copyright 2021 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Shaylee is a UM Journalism School student. She reports and helps produce Montana Evening News on MTPR.