A Montana Senate committee on Thursday voted to table a controversial bill that aimed to eliminate adult-use cannabis sales in the state, the Montana Free Press reports. The measure also included a provision to raise the tax on medical cannabis products from 4% to 20%.
The Senate Business, Labor and Economic Affairs Committee voted 6-4 to table the bill with Senate President Jason Ellsworth, Committee Chair Jason Small, and Sen. Walt Sales – all Republicans – joining all three Democratic members to oppose the bill. The committee ultimately tabled the bill unanimously.
Cannabis legalization was approved by voters 57% to 43% in 2020. During the panel debate, Democratic state Sen. Willis Curdy said he was concerned and “really nervous about undoing the people’s will.”
State Sen. Keith Regier (R), the bill’s sponsor, argued that “there have been several examples of the will of the voters being reversed” but two of the three examples he cited were initiatives that had been turned over by courts, not lawmakers, the report says.
According to the bill text, the measure intends to “reduce the demand for marijuana sales” in Montana. Adult-use cannabis sales in the state have generated $54 million in tax revenues since sales commenced in January 2022. Less than one-tenth of that revenue came from medical cannabis taxes, while adult-use sales are taxed at a 20% rate by the state and some counties add an additional 3% local tax. (Full Story)