Medical marijuana ballot initiative would cost taxpayers $3 million

SALT LAKE CITY — A ballot initiative for medical marijuana would cost Utah taxpayers about $3 million if it passes, according to a fiscal impact statement made public on Tuesday.

The analysis by the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget estimated the law would cost approximately $2.9 million ($1.8 million ongoing and $1.1 million one-time) — at least up front.

“Fee collections would cover about $1,400,000 of ongoing costs. General state revenues would be required for remaining ongoing costs ($400,000) and all onetime costs ($1,100,000). The complete impact of the proposed tax provisions is inestimable due to lack of clarity in proposed language,” GOMB Executive Director Kristen Cox wrote. “Under the proposed sales tax exemption, the state and local governments would forego $1,600,000 in sales tax revenue. Consumer and firm behavior different than assumed would alter these estimates.”

The fiscal impact statement is a requirement to get on the ballot in 2018. Backers of the ballot initiative must also hold seven public hearings across the state before they are allowed to gather signatures.

The Utah Patients Coalition, which is running the ballot initiative, believed that once up-and-running, the program would not impact taxpayers.

“Once the medical cannabis program is operational, the government will be able to offset its expenses through fees, eliminating any burden on taxpayers. This is a program that will be self-sustaining through fees paid for by the patients who participate and the businesses that serve them,” said the coalition’s DJ Schanz.

The Utah Patients Coalition announced it has also scheduled public hearings for this week. They are:

Wednesday, July 26, 2017, 7:00 p.m.
Salt Lake County Building, Room N2-800
2001 S State Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84118

Wednesday, July 26, 2017, 7:00 p.m.
Lehi Legacy Center
123 Center St, Lehi, UT 84043

Wednesday, July 26, 2017, 7:00 p.m.
Washington County Commission Building
197 E Tabernacle Street, St. George, UT 84770

Thursday, July 27, 2017, 7:00 p.m.
Box Elder County Building
1 S Main St, Brigham City, UT 84302

Thursday, July 27, 2017, 6:00 p.m.
Nephi City Hall
21 E 100 N, Nephi, UT 84648

Thursday, July 27, 2017, 7:00 p.m.
Moab Arts and Recreation Building (MARC)
111 E 100 N, Moab, UT 84532

Friday, July 28, 2017, 6:00 p.m.
Duchesne County Library
130 S Center St, Duchesne, UT 84021

Saturday, July 29, 2017, 3:30 p.m.
Park City Library, Community Room
1255 Park Ave, Park City, UT 84060

Saturday, July 29, 2017, 2:00 p.m.
Cedar City Public Library
303 N 100 E, Cedar City, UT 84721

Saturday, July 29, 2017, 9:00 a.m.
North Salt Lake City Hall
10 E Center St., North Salt Lake, UT 84054

Frustrated by what they say is years of inaction by state lawmakers on the issue of medical cannabis use, supporters announced plans to put the issue before voters in 2018.