A bill to legalize recreational marijuana use for Montanans 18 and older failed to advance Thursday from a state House committee.
Rep. Tom Winter, D-Missoula, tried to assure the House Taxation committee that his House Bill 770 served as a reaction to, not a model of, mistakes made in other states that have legalized recreational marijuana. By his own estimate, Winter said, the bill would bring Montana $35 million to $55 million in annual revenue with a 32 percent tax on retail marijuana sales.In opposing the bill, Sgt. Kurt Sager and Lt. Jim Sanderson of the Montana Highway Patrol relied on statistics from recent impact reports that found increased traffic deaths and hospitalizations in Colorado related to marijuana after it was legalized for recreational use in that state.
Sager called Winter’s bill a “nightmare” for all Montana citizens and said the economic cost of a spike in marijuana-related traffic deaths alone — which he estimated could reach 30 to 65 per year — would ultimately outweigh new tax revenue.
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