Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Montana has plummeted into the worst economic recession since World War II. A recent analysis conducted by Montana's Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) projects that the state will experience a 7.3 percent decline in employment in 2020. While this downturn affects the spending power of individual households, it drastically reduces our state tax base which depends on income tax for its general fund. By voting to legalize, regulate and tax recreational marijuana, Montanans will benefit from $236 million in tax revenue by 2026.

Arriving in the midst of an unprecedented economic emergency, two proposed ballot initiatives will appear on the ballot in Montana. CI-118 and I-90 are complementary ballot initiatives which, if passed, will legalize, regulate and tax recreational marijuana for adults 21 and over. By establishing a 20 percent tax on marijuana products, the legislation will fund services and programs that benefit all Montanans. Roughly half of the funds will be directed toward programs that support public land access and improvements for parks and trails. The initiative will also allocate revenue toward veterans services, substance abuse treatment and prevention, community home and health care for eldery and disabled Montanans, and the state general fund. I urge Montanas to vote yes on ballot initiatives I-190 and CI-118 in order to counteract economic repercussions of COVID-19 and promote a stronger, safer and more resilient state.

-Anna Reely

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