It looks like the enhanced legalization of medical marijuana in Montana will boost the Treasure State’s coffers this year, with sales increasing the amount of money in Montana’s general fund, as reported by KTVH.
This upcoming windfall was triggered last November when Montana voters passed Initiative 182, expanding the state’s medical marijuana program, followed by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock signing Senate Bill 333 on May 19 to establish regulatory systems for the program.
On Oct. 10, 2017, the Department of Revenue released a sales estimate for medical marijuana in Montana, projecting nearly $18.75 million in sales this year and $750,000 in marijuana tax revenue; however, with this being the first year of Montana’s expanded and regulated medical marijuana program, the startup and administrative fees will subtract a significant amount of money from this year’s general fund.
“After you factor the startup costs for the systems, you’re down to only about $30,000 net impact to the general fund,” said Mary Ann Dunwell, public information officer for the Montana Department of Revenue.
According to KTVH, the hefty startup costs are due to the new computer systems, ID cards, the seed-to-sale tracking system and cash intake sites among others. The Department of Health and Human Services was also hit with costs related to the enhanced program.
While medical marijuana in Montana will give a slight boost to state coffers, the added revenue won’t be enough to fix the state budget this year, and next year the medical marijuana tax is dropping from 4% to 2%. With this drop, the Department of Revenue has projected that the state will make $380,000 in the program’s second year, which will only add $300,000 to the general fund.
Still, officials are motivated for the program to succeed, putting their trust in the hands of the roughly 12,000 registered patients who are anticipated to spend nearly $1,500 each per year on medical marijuana.
“Our state budget is hurting, unless we generate some sort of revenue and this is an opportunity to do that,” Dunwell said.