The Department of Revenue has the authority to prescribe the rules needed to carry out the collection of taxes. In order to purchase adult use marijuana, the purchaser must be at least 21 years old.
The bill preserves and protects the hemp industry that the state of Montana is a national leader in production. Neither marijuana or marijuana products are considered Ag products as hemp is listed as being. A licensee may not grow both marijuana and hemp.
One of the big differences in the new medical marijuana part of the bill is that it tightly defines the meaning of debilitating medical conditions. A holder of a medical card will be required to have regular visits with their provider as well.
The decision to allow home grown was a heavily discussed topic. Home grown is allowed under this bill but the bill allows only two mature plants and two seedlings. A registered cardholder is allowed up to four mature plants and four seedlings.
Smoking in a public place not licensed for smoking is subject to a civil fine up to 50 dollars. Driving under the influence of marijuana is prohibited as is the use of marijuana in the passenger seat. Use is illegal on school grounds and public transportation and a provider cannot be less than 500 feet from a school or church.
A State special revenue account has been established for the state to deposit money collected from taxes and penalties. Use of the tax and penalty funds have been established as follows.
Up to 6 million to the HEART fund
20% to FWP for wildlife habitat
4% to state parks
4% to trails and recreation facilities
3% or $200,000 whichever is less to veterans and surviving spouses
$300,000 to Department of Justice to administer grant funding and training for drug dogs
$150,000 to the board of Crime Control for crisis intervention
Remainder to general Fund but is not considered a major source of funding there
Requires label and packaging not be attractive to children and requires warning labels. Persons currently serving a sentence permitted under this law may petition the courts for expungement of their conviction. Other offenses will not be considered for expungement and the sentence will have to be served for that offense.
New applications for licenses will begin on July 1, 2023 if the applicant is not already a medical dispensary. Products may not be consumed on the premises of a licensed provider. It takes up to six months for a plant to mature so sales from these sources will not begin immediately.
There are many other parts to HB 701, some of which I will expound on in the next article. Factors not included in this bill were debated in depth and may be included in adjustments to this bill when it is considered during the next session. This bill is a major diversion from anything we dealt with in the past sessions, and we know it isn’t perfect in the current form. Public input is encouraged.