Voters Turn Their Backs on Recreational Cannabis in Billings

Earlier this year, we brought you news on the cannabis culture in Montana. Once again, Montana is making headlines in cannabis politics. Billings citizens are en route to prohibiting recreational cannabis dispensaries in big Billings, with 55% saying nay in an unauthorized ramification outcome earlier this week. In conjunction with the Yellowstone County election returns, 17,107 voted nay, while 13,817 voted for recreational cannabis. What does this mean for recreational and medical cannabis in the Treasure State?

Citizens were even more apparent of the question of taxing marijuana at 3% in Yellowstone County. A measure to tax recreational marijuana passed quickly at 82%, while the rate on medical cannabis passed by 60 percent. With recreational cannabis dispensaries exiled from the city, that still leaves an opportunity for previously instituted medical cannabis dispensaries to move into the city of Billings, stated Tina Walker-Smith, the Canna of Eden, a CBD distributed and cannabis training service in Billings, MT.

‘Here in the city, medicinal providers will be able to exchange recreational, no matter the circumstance. Moreover, if the recreational dispensaries don’t pass, pharmaceutical providers will still be able to provide medical and recreational cannabis in Montana; and move into the city if they want to. I don’t believe several will want to with these restrictive rules,’ replies Smith.

Smith school local cannabis business folks about local laws and general business disciplines. She has also been frequent at Billings City Council debates on cannabis policy. The City Council of Billing still has yet to finalize its procedures regulating cannabis businesses.

Yet after the citizens said nay to recreational dispensaries, the city has to regulate six other types of cannabis businesses. They include cultivation, manufacturer, a medicinal cannabis dispensary, combined use permits, testing lab, and transit. The Council schedules have a final vote on its cannabis business regulations next Monday.

Yellowstone County will collect the 3% charge and hold 50% of the revenue each year. Based on the community, 45% of the annual remuneration will doll out to the county’s municipalities, like Billings and Laurel. The remaining 5% per year will roll back to the state Department of Revenue. Billings DOR estimates that Billings would see between $250,000 to $350,000 per fiscal year by year five of the cost.

The election may serve as a specific gauge of how Yellowstone County feels about cannabis. Last year, Yellowstone County taxpayers passed I-190, legalizing cannabis across the Treasure state, by a very narrow margin of 1,140 votes.
The recreational cannabis dispensary’s failure in Billings might not bode well for the roughly 26 medicinal cannabis dispensaries in Yellowstone County that will be able to sell recreational cannabis to adults over the age of 21.

Steve Zabawa co-owns Rimrock Subaru in Billings, MT & is the administrator of SafeMontana, an anti-cannabis and drug group. He stated he plans to urge the county commissioners for another county-wide cannabis election to collectively stop cannabis in Yellowstone County.

‘John Ostlund told us that he would get a hard look at it if the city of Billings voted to say no. He would take a gander at putting it up on the ballot in the Summer of 2022. So we’ll see how it goes.’

Zabawa’s organization filed a suit last year to reverse I-190, claiming the enterprise went against the Montana code. It took apart the Legislature’s fundamental right to appropriate tax revenue. The suit was intentionally dropped in this summer, as stated by Yellowstone County News. Zabawa stated he’d got his sights set on the 2023 Montana Legislative Session to revoke HB 701, which is the core for legalization established by the Legislature this year.

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