A long, crystal-covered cannabis cola pictured inside of a Washington state grow operation.

Rory Savatgy

A bill imposing a 4 percent tax on medical cannabis sales in Montana has moved to Gov. Steve Bullock’s desk after it passed through the House 68-31, Montana Public Radio reports. Sen. Mary Caferro, the bill’s sponsor, said the measure – amended from 6 percent – will help the state regulate the program.

“The 4 percent tax was an amendment in the Senate and I supported it, and the reason is because the 4 percent tax is enough to set up the system,” she said in the report. “And that’s common practice, industry pays for their regulation.”

The tax – which drops to 2 percent in July 2018 – will help cover new regulations including a seed-to-sale tracking system, site and shop inspections, and lab testing.

“The point of the bill, again, is to make sure that Montana has a regulated system so the feds don’t come shut it down,” Caferro said.

Last November voters passed Initiative-182 that effectively re-legalized medical cannabis in the state after lawmakers decimated the state’s original regime enacted in 2004. Supporters say the new rules go beyond what they approved.

Kari Boiter, co-founder of the Patient Rights Network said the sales tax – 6 percent at the time – would create undue burdens for those patients on limited incomes.

“We’re already dealing with exorbitant medical costs and debt that we’re trying to pay,” she said in an Associated Press report. “This is just one more thing that adds to the expenses we’re taking on as sick individuals.”

It’s likely Bullock will sign the measure which his spokesperson called “fair and modest” last month.

 

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