Montana Collects Nearly $400,000 in Three Months from Medical Marijuana Tax

Montana Collects Nearly $400,000 in Three Months from Medical Marijuana Tax

by Zach Harris
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NEWS
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The Big Sky State implemented a 4% tax on medical marijuana over the summer, and their budget is reaping the benefits.

Lead photo via Flickr user Tracy Olson

After more than a decade of running a medical marijuana (MMJ) program with its own ups-and-downs, Montana is finally raking in tax revenue from legal weed. The state’s first round of cannabis tax collections began this month, with medical marijuana providers in the Big Sky State turning over 4% of a reported $9.5 million in total revenue directly to the tax man.

According to Montana Public Radio, Montana tax officials have padded state coffers with $380,000 in cannabis revenue from the months of July, August, and September, putting the state well on its way to a year-long goal of $1 million in weed-fueled funding.

Montana’s medical marijuana tax was implemented this past summer, with a 4% sales tax scheduled to be levied through the end of 2017, at which point the tax will drop to 2% for the foreseeable future.

Like most states collecting funds from legal cannabis, Montana’s marijuana tax revenue has featured a significant number of cash payments from its MMJ sector. Thanks to federal prohibition, a vast majority of American banks refuse to deal with canna-businesses. Still, most of Montana’s first tax payments were paid by either check or e-portal, with only 15% of the $380,000 arriving at state tax offices in stacks of dead presidents.

With 393 of Montana’s medical marijuana providers already performing their civil duty, the average tax payment came in at close to $1,000. Of course, some dispensaries are busier than others, with one caregiver turning in $30,000 to state regulators.

As for where that money will go, early reports suggest that Montana’s first round of marijuana tax revenue will go towards implementing a statewide seed-to-sale tracking program as well as other new programs to support Montana’s still-growing cannabis industry.

Not everything comes easy though, and even with last week’s deadline passed, about one third of Montana’s 600 total medical marijuana providers have yet to turn over their overdue taxes. If all goes as planned and those businesses do eventually pony up their share, state coffers will get even more funding from taxation late fees.

“We are working with providers because they may have questions and there may be problems on their end processing it, so we’re working with folks; however we are obligated under law to impose penalties and interest if a provider doesn’t comply,” said Mary Ann Dunwell, an employee at the Montana Department of Revenue.

If early results are any indication, those additional tax payments could push Montana’s first cannabis tax collection upwards of $500,000, well past any pre-implementation expectations.

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Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.


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