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Gallatin County voters to decide on local marijuana taxes

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GALLATIN MEDIA CENTER

Gallatin County voters will be asked to decide on two local-option marijuana taxes as part of this year’s primary election ballot.

On Tuesday, March 8, the Gallatin County Commission unanimously voted to add the following two questions to the June 7 ballot for Gallatin County voters’ consideration:

  • A 3 percent local-option sales tax on all non-medical (recreational) marijuana products sold in Gallatin County.
  • A 3 percent local-option sales tax on all medical marijuana products sold in Gallatin County.

In November 2020, Montana voters passed Initiative Measure 190, which allowed for the operation of various categories of marijuana businesses and taxation of marijuana retail sales in Montana counties in which a majority of voters approved the initiative. The initiative passed in Gallatin County with 65.6 percent of the vote.

State law does not allow county governments to impose similar taxes on any other product. The state already imposes at 20 percent tax on recreational marijuana and a 4 percent tax on medical marijuana.

“This is a really unique, brand-new feature in state law and that’s the reason we have this opportunity to even put this question in front of the voters,” said Gallatin County Commissioner Zach Brown. “We’re not making this decision on behalf of the voters. The voters get to weigh in.”

If voters in an eligible county pass a local-option marijuana tax, 50 percent of the tax must be retained by the county, 45 percent apportioned to the cities and towns in the county based on population, and the remaining 5 percent given to the Montana Department of Revenue to defray state costs associated with the tax.

State law allows counties or cities and towns that receive local-option sales tax revenue for any activity, undertaking or administrative service authorized by law, including costs resulting from the imposition of the tax.

If passed, the local-option taxes would go into effect on Oct. 1, 2022. Gallatin County Commissioners say that, if passed, they will use the county’s portion of the local taxes to fund mental health services.

Other Montana counties that have already asked voters to decide on similar local-option marijuana taxes include Yellowstone, Missoula and Park counties. Lewis and Clark County has opted to also put questions on their June ballot. Butte-Silver Bow is also considering the ballot questions as well.

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