Montana state Rep. Bill Mercer, a Republican, is seeking to delay cannabis sales – approved by voters last year – until 2023, saying the time frame “doesn’t make any sense,” the Missoula Current reports. Under the measure, sales would commence in January 2022.
“I wonder if the voters had any idea when they adopted this initiative that they were going to increase the state bureaucracy by 100 people within nine months. You’re talking about this massive expansion of government. … In order to try to do this in a coherent and rational way, to say that this can all be stood up by October 1, is a mistake.” – Mercer to MTN News via the Current
Mercer added that the Department of Revenue alone would need 76 new employees.
The reforms were approved by 58% of Montana voters last November. The bill’s provisions require the state to have rules in place to accept industry applications by October.
Last month, state lawmakers rejected a $1.35 million request from the state Department of Revenue for implementing the program. Gov. Greg Gianforte’s administration is working on how it will implement the reforms, including changing how the revenues derived from the 20% tax on cannabis sales would be spent, the report says.
The anti-legalization group Wrong for Montana has filed a lawsuit challenging the measure claiming the financial allocation provisions in the measure violate the state constitution. Mercer argues that implementing a legalization plan should be delayed in the event the court throws out the measure.
The delay bill is set to be heard this week in the House Business and Labor Committee.
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