This bill is 151 pages long with many active parts and rules. I will attempt to give the highlights of how it came to be and what is in the bill. In the beginning of the session there were three main bills but were combined into one. Since there is so much information to cover I believe this will be a three part series on Marijuana.
When the voters passed I-190 on November 3, 2020, recreational marijuana (aka. Adult use marijuana) was set to become legal in Montana. The product was legalized but the initiative had one glaring illegality-it appropriated money. By the constitution of Montana, that is a responsibly assigned only to the legislature. We got many contacts believing we had to do what the initiative detailed for spending but that is not correct.
Most of HB 701 incorporated the law for medical marijuana that is already on the books but some changes were made there as well. Probably the biggest change was in the tightening of the definition of pain as used to get the medical marijuana card.
The bill went through extensive scrutiny and changes as the more than a dozen legislators worked countless hours to produce the finished product. Under the capable leadership of Representative Mike Hopkins from Missoula the final product would prove to be the most comprehensive marijuana bill in the nation.
One of the most discussed issues was what was referred to as the opt-in or opt-out provision. The final bill contains a hybrid version of the provision which requires any county or municipality that did not vote for I-190 to hold an election to allow for the sale and distribution of marijuana in their locality. If the local vote was in favor of the sale of adult use marijuana, then dispensaries are allowed. A list of the county’s votes are given on the internet.
Since the size of operations of businesses growing marijuana is quite diversified there is now 12 different tiers of licenses based on square footage of growing facilities. Outdoor cultivation is prohibited unless the grower has had a license to grow medical product previously in Montana. The product is sold by the concentration of THC not by weight.
A total of eight dispensaries have been allocated to the tribes with the requirement that they be within 150 miles of the reservation boundary. The Crow tribe is already looking at the possibility of opening one near their boundary. Other tribes still aren’t heading in that direction.
Purchase of medical product is limited to no more than 5 ounces per month and possession of no more than 1 ounce at any one time. The Department of Revenue can issue an exception to the possession limits with strict requirements. The purchaser of product must be at least 21 years old.
From the legislative side of things the Economic Affairs Interim Committee has oversight authority over the department including taxation. Medical marijuana is taxed at 4% of retail and adult use is taxed at 20% of retail. Local jurisdictions have the authority to impose a local use tax of up to 3% if approved by the voters of the jurisdiction. The Department of Revenue shall prescribe rules needed to carry out collection of taxes.