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City Club discusses legalizing recreational marijuana in Missoula

The City Club of Missoula held its monthly presentation via ZOOM on Monday with reporter and anchor Jill Valley serving as moderator.

January 1 marked the official start of legal recreational marijuana sales, especially in Missoula.

First to speak was Kate Cholewa, government affairs specialist for the Montana Cannabis Industry Association, who described the transition from strictly medical marijuana to legalized recreational sale and use.

“In late 2009, under (President) Obama, Eric Holder, the attorney general, released Ogden’s memo that said federal authorities were not going to interfere with people following state laws. when it comes to marijuana so people feel more comfortable,” Cholewa said. “That’s also when traveling clinics came to Montana. So after five years and 3,900 cardholders, you suddenly have 1,000 people signed up in one weekend. So in just over a year, those numbers grew to over 30,000 cardholders and the number of caregivers, who were the people selling medical marijuana at the time, grew to around 4,000. . »

Now that marijuana has entered the mainstream market, Courtney Cosgrove, senior cannabis attorney for the Cannabis Control Division of the Montana Department of Revenue, described initial revenue estimates.

“The estimated income so far? ” she asked. “I have figures until January 16and, and as you can see, medical marijuana is just over $5 million, and recreational use is around $7.2 million. So that’s about $1.6 million in estimated taxes to date. Of course, no one has filed yet because these are quarterly taxes, so these are just estimates.

Another panelist was Faith Price, community prevention coordinator at the All Nations Health Center, who was concerned about how young people in Montana view the legalization of recreational marijuana.

“I’m afraid when we legalized marijuana for adult use, what was the message our young people got?” she asked. “I think a lot of them think, ‘well, if it’s okay for adults, then it’s okay for me too’, which we know isn’t true, but we’ve seen that their perception of the damage ( marijuana) has dropped significantly. And we have also seen that many teenagers now believe that marijuana is safer for them than alcohol or tobacco.

Kate Cholewa of the Cannabis Industry Association addressed a political aspect of marijuana legalization, asking how potential candidates might address the issue.

“Is a candidate prepared to support incremental reforms such as licensing the bank or only comprehensive reforms that may include social equity and tax structures?” she asked. “So that could be if you ask your candidates questions, especially if you’re a business, you might also be interested in that question, it’s incremental versus full.”

Other panelists included Missoula County Land Use Planner Jennie Dixon and Golden Mother Clinic Operator Katrina Farnum.

City Club is a members-only organization that features Conversations of Interest on a monthly basis. KGVO News will add the link to view the full presentation when it is available from City Club.

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