BILLINGS — The query of whether or not to permit seven forms of marijuana companies into the Billings metropolis limits may very well be as much as the voters once more in an election on Nov. 2, after the Metropolis Council directed workers on Tuesday to analysis poll language and dates to convey again at a future assembly.
Billings Assistant Metropolis Legal professional Karen Tracy outlined the rights the town has inside its borders to implement legalized marijuana below HB 701, which was signed by Gov. Greg Gianforte in Might.
“There lies throughout the council’s discretion a variety of latitude on what kind of companies you wish to allow, the way you wish to allow them, what number of of these licenses you would possibly wish to authorize, the place you wish to zone these. There’s a variety of discretion and the legislature has left that door open. In fact the extra restrictive the ordinances, the extra litigation the town might face,” Tracy mentioned.
Tracy famous that voters in Yellowstone County handed the unique query to legalize grownup use marijuana in Nov. 2020 by a margin of 1,142 votes. In Billings, voters handed the initiative by greater than 4,000 votes, Tracy mentioned.
Tracy added that the initiative handed “decisively” in all of Billings’ 5 wards, minus Ward 4 which makes up the world beneath the Rimrocks west to the Ironwood subdivision.
There are seven several types of marijuana companies described in HB 701, Tracy mentioned.
Varieties of Marijuana Companies
- Cultivation – Companies that domesticate or develop marijuana crops
- Producer – Companies that create and promote marijuana merchandise like edibles and/or concentrates.
- Medical Marijuana Dispensary – Companies that develop and promote marijuana to folks with a state-approved and doctor-prescribed medical marijuana card.
- Grownup Use (Leisure) Dispensary – Companies that promote marijuana merchandise to adults over the age of 21.
- Mixed Use License – A marijuana enterprise providing each medical and grownup use marijuana on the market.
- Testing Laboratory – A facility designed to check the efficiency and security of marijuana merchandise.
- Transportation – A enterprise licensed to move marijuana to dispensaries in Billings.
Medical marijuana dispensaries which can be technically positioned in Yellowstone County, however are simply accessed from the town, have already been cultivating, manufacturing and promoting medical marijuana merchandise to registered card holders below the Montana Division of Well being and Human Companies program since 2016.
If the Council takes no motion on the difficulty of marijuana, medical marijuana dispensaries already working in Yellowstone County, and one throughout the metropolis limits, can be allowed to promote marijuana merchandise to folks 21 and older on January 1, 2021, Tracy mentioned.
HB 701 states already licensed medical marijuana dispensaries have the primary 18 months within the newly-created market to themselves earlier than the state will license new dispensaries for grownup use.
One choice is the Council might transfer to ask the voters whether or not to permit any variety of the seven enterprise sorts within the metropolis limits, Tracy mentioned.
However even when voters say no to all seven marijuana companies, HB 701 additionally provides the Council the ability to allow them to function anyway, Tracy mentioned.
“It seems that the legislature has supposed to say, ‘Even when the voters say we would like all seven classes (banned), the town might permissively enable these companies to function.’ We imagine that there’s nonetheless fairly a little bit of discretion,” Tracy mentioned.
The Council voted 7-3 to discover the choice of getting the election query on marijuana companies explored by the town workers and introduced again for extra info at a future council assembly.
Council members who voted in favor have been Mike Yakawich, Roy Neese, Frank Ewalt, Penny Ronning, Mike Boyett, Shaun Brown and Mayor Invoice Cole. Council members who voted in opposition have been Kendra Shaw, Denise Pleasure, and Danny Choriki. Council member Pam Purinton was absent on the assembly.
If the marijuana query have been to get to the Nov. 2 poll, the Council must transfer rapidly. Metropolis Administrator Chris Kukulski mentioned the Council must approve a primary studying of the poll language by July 26 on the very newest, with a second studying following on Aug. 9.
“In the end, our aim is be again right here in late summer season or fall with laws for first studying, second studying and 30 day efficient date so the whole lot will be squarely in place for January, when the legal guidelines all come efficient. So a part of my message right here is, the aim is not that we will stroll out tonight with all of the solutions, that is the primary of a minimum of a few work session dialogues. Then stepping into the meat of what is a draft ordinance actually appear like,” Kukulski mentioned.
If marijuana companies do find yourself within the metropolis limits, the Council must deal with the query of regulating their quantity and site throughout the metropolis utilizing zoning legal guidelines. Tracy mentioned the Council might put a tough cap on the variety of any kind of marijuana enterprise allowed to function within the metropolis.
HB 701 at the moment requires a 500 foot separation between a marijuana enterprise and anywhere of worship or faculty. The space is measured in a straight line from the doorway of the college or church to the marijuana enterprise entrance entrance. Tracy mentioned the road is measured down one avenue, so there’s a risk a marijuana enterprise might open again to again with a church or faculty.
The Council might enhance or lower the zoning distance necessities to be particular to any of the seven forms of marijuana companies, Tracy mentioned.
There’s additionally the query of whether or not voters will approve a 3 p.c native choice gross sales tax on the sale of marijuana merchandise in Yellowstone County. The tax is meant to assist native governments with the price of implementing enterprise licensing, enforcement and different facets of marijuana legalization in HB 701.
The invoice states solely the the Yellowstone County Board of Commissioners can convey the native choice tax problem earlier than the voters in an election.
If accepted, county would obtain 50 p.c share of the tax income, 45 p.c can be distributed amongst county municipalities like Billings, Laurel and others, and the remaining 5 p.c would return to the state.
Kukulski mentioned marijuana legalization will price the town of Billings cash.
“We’re going to have prices. Even when I can’t quantify them to the greenback that we’d all like to have. I significantly doubt the income goes to offset absolutely the associated fee,” Kukulski mentioned.
The Council informally famous their intentions to draft a letter to the Commissioners noting its favorable opinion on shifting ahead the query of an area choice tax to an election.
The Council additionally directed metropolis workers to type a committee of not more than 5 members to additional hammer out the complexity of implementing legalized marijuana in Billings. If greater than six council members have been to fulfill, their guidelines state that prior notification to the general public have to be made and assembly minutes would should be recorded.
The Tuesday assembly was a piece session for the Council, no official choices or votes have been made on the assembly. To view the assembly in it is entirety, go to Neighborhood 7 TV’s Fb web page by clicking here. To view the Council agenda with extra info, click here.