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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Competing Marijuana Legalization Bills Introduced In The Legislature

Marijuana in jars on a shop shelf.

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. 

Shaylee covers state government and politics for Montana Public Radio. Please share tips, questions and concerns at 406-539-1677 or  
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