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Ravalli commissioners reject "do over" on vote allowing recreational marijuana sales

Ravalli Commissioners 2022.jpg
Posted at 6:38 PM, Mar 08, 2022

HAMILTON — Ravalli County commissioners have decided against the idea of asking voters whether they want to overturn the ballot measure that approved the sale of recreational marijuana in the Bitterroot.

Commissioners considered a draft resolution on Tuesday that would have asked Ravalli County voters whether they wanted to "overturn" Initiative 190, making it illegal for non-medical marijuana businesses to "cultivate, manufacture, dispense" or even test marijuana. It wouldn't have made the possession or use of pot illegal.

The measure would have gone before voters in the June Primary election.

The idea had some people questioning who was backing the move to overturn the 51-to-49% decision. Although commissioners said they were just responding to concerned citizens objecting to the tax revenue from marijuana sales going to the state.

"Because it doesn't sound suspiciously like the county commissioners may be carrying somebody else's water," said Larry Keogh of Hamilton, the only one to comment in person at the hearing.

"So there's an implication that there's some nefarious deal going on here that there's somebody behind the scenes saying, 'put this on the ballot and do it,'" Commissioner Jeff Burrows answered. "I can tell you for me, it's just been concerned citizens that said, 'we didn't know exactly what we were voting for.' There was a promise."

Commissioner Greg Chilcott is concerned of the cost impacts of the initiative, especially with the state taking the tax revenues of 20% of sales.

"Our Sheriff's Office is going to be tasked with enforcing this. Our county attorney's office is going to be tasked with prosecuting those crimes. Those don't come without cost."

After discussing that there were already 10-dispensaries licensed to operate, the GOP board agreed it wouldn't be fair to have a "taking" of those operations and investments. However, the board will look at the option of asking voters to approve a local option tax on marijuana sales later this week.