Local governments hold roundtable discussion on recreational marijuana sales

The discussion was held at the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division and included members from the City and County of Denver, Aurora, Boulder, Fort Collins, Greeley, Longmont and Loveland.

The federal legalization bill 2021 is a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana sales in the United States.


 Last week, representatives from municipal, county, and tribal governments gathered to explore methods for regulating recreational marijuana sales, which are scheduled to begin on January 1, 2022. During the 2020 election, Montana voters legalized the selling of recreational marijuana to people aged 21 and above. HB 701, which was enacted in the 2021 legislative session, gives the Department of Revenue supervision and “allows for a local-option marijuana excise tax” with local government consent.

Polson City Manager Ed Meece began the discussion by expressing his expectation that the different governments in attendance would benefit from collaborating on regulatory issues. He discussed some of the measures being created by Polson’s Marijuana Task Force, including the ban of marijuana use on city-owned land, transportation control, special company licensing, taxes, and zoning regulations. 

In terms of taxes, it is suggested that the city collaborate with the county administration to impose a 3% tax on recreational sales made inside the county via a ballot initiative. HB 701 sets a 3 percent limit on the local choice tax and specifies that the county keeps 50 percent of the income while cities get 45 percent depending on population. The Montana Department of Income keeps the remaining 5% and invests it in a “marijuana state special revenue account.”

The Lake County Commissioners, who were all present at the meeting, are ready to introduce a resolution to impose a 3% tax on recreational marijuana sales, but they want to get agreement from the county’s incorporated towns and cities first. They’ve requested formal requests from towns to bring up a tax proposal, as well as a commitment to cover the costs of a special election in proportion to the income that might be obtained by passing the resolution.

Commissioner Bill Barron expressed his desire that cities and counties collaborate on rules so that “county people may know that regulations are the same wherever they go, in any city.”

According to Meece, the question of how many dispensaries to allow inside the city has been discussed at Polson Marijuana Task Force meetings. The task group is attempting to create zoning and “distance buffers” that would achieve desirable limitations rather than establishing a precise number, which might be seen as arbitrary. Proposed zoning rules would require a 500-foot physical separation between any two dispensaries, churches, or schools. The goal, according to Meece, is to avoid oversaturation, not to ban dispensaries. Within the city boundaries of Missoula, he said, there are 55 marijuana dispensaries.

Kim Aipperspach, mayor of Ronan, said he and his city council had addressed similar issues.

“We don’t want the bigger cities to get saturated,” he said. He proposed addressing licensing restrictions in the same way as alcohol companies do. Ronan’s council has proposed charging marijuana companies a $1,500 special business licensing fee “to pay for public safety.” It was said that since it is a cash company, there is the possibility of increasing criminality. 

When a city’s threshold for dispensaries is reached, Aipperspach inquired about county zoning laws and planned limitations on marijuana licensed companies so that dispensaries don’t wind up just outside of municipal boundaries. Many people felt that designating marijuana businesses as a county might be advantageous.

Gale Decker, a county commissioner, gestured to Lake County Sheriff Don Bell, saying he’d want to hear from him on the latest proposed rules. Despite agreeing that local governments should be prepared for the impending shift, Bell acknowledges he sees no benefits in the scenario. “Recreational marijuana will just add to mine and my deputies’ workload,” he added. He pointed out that marijuana remains prohibited at the federal level. 

According to Michael Wheeler, an attorney with CSKT, federal law enforcement authorities have de-prioritized marijuana investigations in states that have legalized it. The tribes, he added, are sensitive to marijuana legalization at the federal level because of their connection with the federal government. He went on to say that the tribes are mainly concerned with fair enforcement of the laws and are taking their time deciding whether or not to take the same approach as the state.

On Oct. 18, the Polson Marijuana Task Force will submit its proposed rules to the Polson City Commission, which are currently in the draft stage. The aim is to put new rules in place before recreational marijuana sales begin in Montana on January 1st.

Laura Dever, Ward 2 Polson Commissioner, said she’s pleased local governments are planning ahead to deal with the impending shift.

Meece ended the discussion by expressing his enthusiasm for further cooperation amongst municipal governments.

He said, “I simply enjoy the notion of working together on these problems.” “We’re happy to be a part of the answer, whether it’s short-term housing or marijuana.”

The more act is a bill that would allow recreational marijuana sales in the state of California. This bill was passed by the California State Senate and now needs to be signed by Governor Jerry Brown.

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