First, let’s take a look at how many people in Montana smoke medical marijuana and where they’re at. We can get that information from the Montana Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS) website in a PDF about medical marijuana in Montana.
Medical Marijuana in Montana
As was reported in the state newspapers a week or so ago, Gallatin County has the most medical marijuana users in Montana. Here’s how some others break down:
- Gallatin County: 1,436 patients;
- Flathead County: 1,011 patients;
- Missoula County: 767 patients;
- Silver Bow County: 634 patients;
- Lewis & Clark: 484 patients.
So those are the top 5 counties in the state, making up 4,332 of the state’s 8,168 patients, or 53%.
These numbers come from February, 2014…the most recent month for these detailed numbers. From what I can tell, the Montana Medical Marijuana Program updates their main numbers about once a quarter, while monthly numbers just show total users.
And that means for February we can get fun facts like this:
So what’s the average age of those users? Take a look:
Where are people getting this pot from? Well, they get it from providers, and here’s a good look at what that looks like:
And those 3 providers giving to 200 patients are more? Those will most likely be providers in Gallatin, Flathead, and Missoula Counties that cater to larger populations.
And when it comes to patients, what about the doctor they get their medical marijuana prescription from? Here’s a chart:
But what about these doctors catering to hundreds of patients, or that guy signing up thousands? I don’t know, I don’t know what to say about that. I know there’s a clinic in the Flathead that caters to medical marijuana patients, so maybe that’s it.
And that’s where we need to make a detour from medical marijuana to recreational marijuana.
Marijuana in Montana
According to an August 5 story by the Washington Post, 10.45% of Montanans have smoked marijuana in the past month. That would be 106,o68 people based on the projected 2013 population of 1,015,000 people in the state of Montana.
Back in 2012 Montana ranked #14 in the country for marijuana use, with 12.21% of citizens smoking. Of course we know that a lot more than that smoke, mainly because smoking pot is illegal and people tend not to talk about doing illegal things.
You can argue that with me, and I’d love to see you try.
So how much money is this bringing in for the state of Montana right now?
Medical marijuana users have to pay $75 for an application to the state, and providers have to pay $50 – that’s just to get started.
According to the program, this had yielded $550,900 by September of 2013…and that’s not even factoring in the $50 provider fee.
But let’s get serious, and get to the real numbers, tax income and income for those dispensiaries. This is what I want to find, and I can’t…at least not today.
But let’s speculate, shall we?
If you go to a medical marijuana dispensiary you’ll pay $10 for a gram of pot. What does a gram of pot look like?
I don’t know anyone that smokes an ounce of pot in a day, but I know several people that smoke two ounces of tobacco a day. Many people that smoke pot might do a gram a day, if even that.
If you look at some advertisements in Montana you’ll see that an ounce of medical marijuana typically goes for $200…if you have a good provider, which usually means a large provider.
The street price of that? An ounce of good pot might run you $200 to $300, depending on your dealer and the type you’re buying.
And this is what we want to know – how much pot is being sold each month or each financial quarter, and how much money the state is making off of that, or more aptly, the economy (in this case mainly black).
Even if every patient were spending $100 a month the number would be low, I’m sure of it. That’d give us $816,800 a month in gross revenue for those dispensiaries. In a year that’d be $9.8 million.
Going further, if we take the 106,068 people that have smoked pot in the past month and put them at spending $100 a month, that'd equal $10.6 million a month, or $127.2 million a year. In comparison, the burgeoning Montana craft brewing industry is a $60 million a year business for our economy.
In Colorado taxes on marijuana are around 29%, meaning an 1/8 of an ounce (a standard measurement) will cost you around $40 ($30 for the pot and $8.59 in taxes added). There are about 3.5 grams in one 1/8 of an ounce.
So that means if Colorado is selling an ounce (a very common monthly allotment for marijuana users) then that cost will be $325 ($250 average ounce price plus $72.5 in tax).
Lots of people are still calling their dealer, therefore, and just avoiding the taxes altogether. That’s called the free market and it’ll drive the tax rate down or it’ll continue like that.
But...do you think anyone cares? While many of you think the world will crumble when marijuana is legalized, the truth is that many people moving about you on a daily basis are smoking pot and the world is functioning just fine.
What’s not functioning is our current federal budget and the vast majority of those in the states. This is one answer for that.