House Bill 161, also known as the medical marijuana repeal bill, has only been debated by the state House of Representatives, but Missoula cannabis clinics have concerns about possible economic effects if medical marijuana is repealed.
Dave Stephens, owner of Better Life Montana, said that if the repeal is passed, he predicts the loss of thousands of jobs, lost city revenue from business taxes and many more people relying on food stamps.
“It’s a bad idea all the way around,” Stephens said.
Stephens owns and runs Better Life on his own and said he had hoped to hire employees in the next year. However, if House Bill 161 is passed, Stephens said, “We’d be out of business.”
He is hopeful that the bill will not be approved by the state Legislature and isn’t actively anticipating having to close down his business.
“I feel like the governor will veto it if it comes down to it,” he said.
Jeffrey Mitchell, a former real estate agent who runs High Country Caregivers with one business partner, said there would be great economic loss if the repeal is passed. “You’ll see a commercial real estate crash,” he said.
In addition, every warehouse involved in medical marijuana would lose its renters. Mitchell estimated there to be one or two warehouses for every medical cannabis business.
If the Legislature approves the repeal of medical marijuana, Mitchell has a plan. “We’ll move to a more marijuana-friendly state,” he said.
Alaska, Oregon and California are places Mitchell listed as possible relocation spots.
Deni Llovet, a nurse practitioner at River City Family Health, said that because the clinic isn’t solely a medical cannabis center, it wouldn’t be put out of business by the repeal. However, current and potential customers would be lost.
“It would remove a significant tool for people in pain,” Llovet said.
Llovet is optimistic that the bill will not be passed.
“Personally, I don’t foresee this being repealed,” she said.
A hearing was scheduled Tuesday with the Appropriations Committee to discuss the possible economic outcome of repealing medical marijuana.
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