Rory Savatgy

Montana Health Dept. Establishes Temporary Rules for MMJ Industry

Montana’s Department of Public Health and Human Services has laid out “temporary emergency rules” for the state’s medical cannabis program as lawmakers work out the program’s permanent details, the Billings Gazette reports.

The temporary rules took effect last Friday and allow the DPHHS to issue licenses for testing lab facilities on a temporary, case-by-case basis, as well as issue temporary licenses for “chemical manufacturers” — companies who can extract cannabinoids and create cannabis concentrates.

The temporary rules will expire after 120 days, though the deadline to have the program fully up and running is April 30, 2018.

Montana Cannabis Industry Association spokesperson Kate Cholewa said that — though this marks a transition period for the industry — “This is not that dramatic of a moment. It’s maybe a benchmark, but there are so many more provisions yet to come online.”

Meanwhile, lawmakers have amended possession limits for program participants following a complaint by the Montana Patients Rights Network; these limits depend on whether or not a patient has a registered provider or if they are cultivating their own medicine. Under the clarification, registered Montana cardholders who have named an official provider are allowed to possess up to one ounce of cannabis. A registered cardholder who has not named a provider, however, may also possess up to four mature cannabis plants and four seedlings.

The state currently imposes a four percent sales tax on medical cannabis products, though this tax will be lowered to two percent starting July 1, 2018.

Montana voters first embraced MMJ reforms in 2004. The program experienced explosive popularity between 2009 and 2011, however, which prompted efforts from lawmakers to repeal and undo the program. Officials finally succeeded in gutting the industry last year, but another successful voter initiative last November overruled lawmakers and renewed the program — this time with more detailed product tracking, a self-sustaining tax system, and a more extensive licensing system.

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