Bill Seeks To Close Down Marijuana Shops In Montana Where GOP Lawmaker Calls Cannabis 'Addictive'

Montana retailers selling recreational marijuana could see their businesses shut down under a new bill from a GOP lawmaker, reported Helena Independent Record.

Sen. Keith Regier's (R) Senate Bill 546 made headlines as it seeks to amend the existing marijuana market, which has been thriving for over a year.

The Senate Business, Labor and Economic Affairs Committee held a hearing on the bill on Wednesday, during which Regier shared his stance on the legalization of marijuana, which Montanans greenlighted in 2020. Fifty-eight percent of voters said yes to the initiative during the November election making possession and use of one ounce or less of cannabis or eight grams or less of concentrate by adults 21 or older legal.

Marijuana Is 'Addictive And Dangerous Substance,' GOP Lawmaker Says

"There is a high cost to making an addictive and dangerous substance a commercial product," Regier told the committee on Wednesday.

The lawmaker argued against the ballot measure, which included tax revenue allocations he opposed. Those supporting the new legislative proposal, including Regier, said recreational marijuana destabilizes the state's communities.

They also back some of the bill's provisions seeking to raise the state tax on medical cannabis from 4% to 20% as well as to drastically lower the potency of products and amounts that can be legally possessed.

"Potency is out of control. It is an epidemic," said Steve Zabawa, head of the anti-marijuana group Safe Montana who was involved in the bill's crafting. "We need to level the playing field. Right now, they won the last round in 2020 and 2021."

He claimed the measure also aims to protect children and families.

Interestingly, those supporting the current marijuana law in Montana built their argument on a similar premise.

"If this bill gets passed, the black market would be influxed, so there would be more cannabis getting in the hands of children," Mariah Bond of Euphoria Wellness said.

Others voiced concerns about marijuana tax revenues, which SB 546 would erase.

"If we erase this legal market and $300 million in sales, they're not going to just go home," said Pepper Petersen, president of the Montana Cannabis Guild and owner of the Cannabis Corner in Helena. "They are going to continue to purchase marijuana, they're either going to go to a state where it's legal and bring it back here, or they're going to go find someone in the state who's selling it illicitly."

Photo: Courtesy of Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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Posted In: CannabisNewsPoliticsMarketsGeneralKeith RegierMariah Bondmarijuana legalizationMontana CannabisRecreational CannabisSenate Bill 546Steve Zabawa
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