House Bill 161, Montana’s medical marijuana repeal bill, has only been approved by the House of Representatives. It hasn’t cleared the Senate, nor has it been signed by the governor. But dispensaries in Missoula are concerned about possible negative economic effects if the law is repealed.
Thousands of jobs could be lost, cities would lose revenue from business taxes, and many more people would be relying on food stamps if repeal passes, according to Dave Stephens, owner of Better Life Montana in Missoula.
“It’s a bad idea all the way around,” Stephens told Paige Huntoon of the Montana Kaimin,
the student daily at the University of Montana at Missoula.
Stephens said he had hoped to hire more employees in the next year. However, if HB 161 passes, “We’d be out of business,” he said.
He is hopeful the bill will not be approved by the Legislature, and said he isn’t actively anticipating having to close down his dispensary.
“I feel like the governor will veto it if it comes down to it,” he said.
There will be great economic loss if the repeal is passed, agreed Jeffrey Mitchell, a former real estate agent who runs the Missoula dispensary High Country Caregivers along with a business partner.
“You’ll see a commercial real estate crash,” Mitchell said.
Every warehouse involved in medical marijuana would lose its renters, Mitchell said. He estimated that every medical marijuana business helps support cultivation operations at one or two warehouses.
If the Legislature approves the repeal and the governor signs it, “We’ll move to a more marijuana-friendly state,” Mitchell said. He listed Alaska, Oregon and California as possible relocation spots.