Revenue from Montana’s first year of collecting taxes clocked in at nearly double the initial predictions. When Senate Bill 333 was approved last year, Montana’s medical cannabis program was severely reformed. One such reform was to charge a 4 percent tax on all cannabis, whether sold, bartered, exchanged or gifted, at retail value for the first year.
That first year ended on July 1, 2018 and the tax has been reduced to 2 percent for the foreseeable future. However, if patients continue to sign up for the program at the current rate, the revenue isn’t bound to go down in the next four quarters.
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During 2017, approximately 1,000 new patients signed up per month. That kind of growth is the reason why seemingly all projections fell short. The people of Montana are able to obtain a card for any of the following conditions: wasting syndrome, cancer, chronic pain, Crohn’s disease, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, nausea, seizures and severe or persistent muscle spasms.
Though there are longer (and shorter) lists of maladies from state to state, Montana covers a wide range of illnesses that are relieved or treated by cannabis. The fact that more patients are willing to add cannabis to their wellness regimes than predicted speaks to the bravery and convictions of Montanans and to the messaging of their pot proponents.
When the tax revenue is calculated for the year when the 4 percent was implemented, it adds up to cannabis having brought in around $45 million in sales. That means a job creating, economy bolstering, tax revenue generating machine that is growing by the minute.
So where do the taxes go? Brilliantly, so far they’re being used to better the cannabis marketplace ecosystem. From seed to sale tracking to inspection facilities, the money goes back into the movement to bring the safest, cleanest, healthiest medicine to those who need it.
It’s worth mentioning that as of July, there are 420 medical marijuana providers in Montana. Though we’re rooting for them to add more, of course, it’s cool that they’ve landed on the community’s lucky number as the state seems to be raking in some luck itself.
State revenue director Gene Walborn stated, “We were pleasantly surprised on how well it went. It being a new tax, we were concerned what challenges you receive with a new tax.” He was also surprised and pleased by how many people filed electronically, implying also that pot providers as a whole had been the definition of cooperative.