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Hearing on marijuana tax rescheduled for next week

Commission candidates weigh in on issue

 

Last updated 9/16/2022 at 11:52am



On this year’s 2020 General Election Ballot will be a question regarding whether Hill County should impose a three percent tax on medical and recreational marijuana products sold in the county, and a hearing on that question has been scheduled for next Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Timmons Room at the Hill County Courthouse.

The commission originally scheduled the hearing for Tuesday afternoon this week, but the meeting was not properly noticed in local media and only one member of the public, Les Odegard, who’s running as an independent for a seat on the Hill County Commission this year, showed up, along with incumbent Hill County Commissioner Diane McLean, a Republican running for reelection and her Democratic opponent and Hill County Commission Executive Assistant Sheri Williams.

McLean said earlier this week that they’ve rescheduled the meeting for next week due to the lack of proper notice.

The tax in question would effectively be a sales tax on marijuana products and the commission has emphasized multiple times that non-users will not be paying anything.

The tax revenue would be split among the county and city of Havre, with the former getting 50 percent and the latter getting 45 percent. The remaining five would go to the state to pay the cost of administering the tax itself.

The commission has expressed that they’d like to hear from the public specifically about where the county’s share of that tax revenue should go.

McLean said she believes that the money should pay for additional law enforcement, education about drugs and addiction support programs.

She said she opposed the legalization of the drug, but now that it has been legalized the county should be taxing to offset the “social ills” the drug will bring to the community, since she doesn’t see the substance going away any time soon.

“We will be reaping the consequences whether we like it or not,” she said.

McLean said one of the reasons given by legalization advocates was more tax revenue and she thinks people should vote in favor of the tax.

These sentiments were echoed by Odegard, who called marijuana a “gateway drug” that would bring more drugs into the community on the black market.

He also said that money from the tax should go to the Hill County Sheriffs and the Hill County Health Department, who he said will be the most affected by legalization.

“We gotta keep educating people on what drugs do to you,” he said.

Williams would not say whether she supported the tax or not, only that it was up to the people of Hill County and the commission would carry out their will.

She also wouldn’t say where she thinks the tax revenue should go.

“That’s up to the constituents,” she said.

 

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