BILLINGS – With recent discussions in Helena on qualifications to get a medical marijuana card, some people are worried PTSD and chronic pain could be removed from the list.
This move could impact over 39,000 licensed card holders in the state.
The Economic Affairs Interim Committee talked about the marijuana program during a hearing last week. At a previous meeting, lawmakers talked about getting rid of PTSD and chronic pain as qualifiers for a medical marijuana card.
Owner of Billings Alternative Wellness Elizabeth Pincolini thinks that’s wrong and says patients that use the medical product could lose access to higher potency products, and would have to switch to adult-use marijuana, which is set at a higher tax.
“That recreational tax base will definitely bolster the tax base for recreational, but it’s going to impact the patients. Most medical patients use a little more than your average recreational user, so when you add up the tax costs, it’s going to be significantly more than you would pay even to get your card,” Pincolini said.
Currently, medical marijuana is taxed at 4%, and recreational is set at 20%.
But if local governments pass a 3% local excise tax, medical marijuana would raise to 7% and recreational would go up to a 23% tax rate.
The Department of Revenue is stepping up efforts to make sure there’s no confusion with marijuana across the board, especially on what it does to your body.
“There are many who are unfamiliar with a variety of cannabis products… It’s important to provide factual, educational resources so people understand what they are consuming and are better prepared,” Department of Revenue Administrator Kristan Barbour said.
Decisions will not be made anytime soon, but talks on medical cannabis qualifiers and other updates from DOR will continue into the next legislative session.
As more rules develop, lawmakers want to open public comment up again during the first week of November.