Lewis and Clark County Marijuana Revenue Tax Ballot Initiatives

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Electors will vote on the marijuana retail taxes on June 7, 2022.

On June 7, 2022, Lewis and Clark County voters will weigh-in on a local tax on the sale of medical and non-medical marijuana. If approved by voters, the 3% tax would take effect on October 1, 2022 and generate new revenue for the County and the City of Helena. Below is a summary of the topic:

Background
On November 3, 2020, a majority of Lewis and Clark County voters approved Initiative Measure No. 190, making the sale of non-medical marijuana legal. Montana State House Bill 701 gives the County Commission authority to impose a local-option marijuana excise tax up to 3% by an election. 

The Resolutions
The County Commission approved two resolutions on February 8, 2022, placing a marijuana tax in front of local voters.

Resolution 2022-5 approves a ballot initiative on a local tax on the retail value of all non-medical marijuana and non-medical marijuana products sold within the County.

Resolution 2022-6 approves a ballot initiative on a local tax on the retail value of all medical marijuana and medical marijuana products sold within the County.

Voting
All qualified electors of Lewis and Clark County will have the opportunity to vote on the marijuana retail taxes on June 7, 2022, in conjunction with the primary election. The ballot will allow voters to approve or deny a 3% tax on non-medical and medical marijuana separately.

Voters can request an absentee ballot or visit a polling place on Election Day. More information on the election can be found at www.lccountymt.gov/car/elections.html

Potential Impact
According to State law, the revenue from a local-option marijuana excise tax may be used for any activity, undertaking or administrative service that the municipality is authorized by law to perform.

The State dictates that 5% of revenue from a marijuana retail tax must be retained by the Montana Department of Revenue. Lewis and Clark County would retain 50% of the tax revenue, while 45% would go to municipalities within the County – the City of Helena and East Helena. The 45% for municipalities would be distributed based on a ratio of their population.

For example (Based on 2020 U.S. Census Data):

City of Helena Population: 32,091
East Helena Population: 1,944
Total Municipality Population: 34,035
Helena’s % of Municipality Population: roughly 94%

According to the State Department of Revenue, in February 2022 marijuana and marijuana product retail in Lewis and Clark County is estimated to be:

Non-medical sales: $886,328.17
Medical sales: $801,774.97
Total sales: $1,688,103.14
3% tax: $50,643.09

Of the $50,643.09 that is estimated tax revenue for February 2022, the money would be distributed:

Total Tax Revenue: $50,643.09
State (5%): $2,532.15
County (50%): $25,321.55
Municipalities (45%): $22,789.39
                - Helena (94%): $21,422.03

Based on those projections, if the average monthly tax revenue matched the estimated revenue for February 2022, the City of Helena could receive over $250,000 per year if the sale of medical and non-medical marijuana and marijuana products were taxed at 3%.

More information on marijuana retail in Montana can be found at https://mtrevenue.gov/cannabis-sales-reports/.

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