Inside of the Montana State Legislature in Helena, Montana.

Tracy Elizabeths

Montana House Passes Amendments to Voter-Backed MMJ Law

Montana’s House Taxation Committee added 20 amendments to a medical cannabis bill before it passed the chamber and moved to the Senate, including changes to the taxation structure, testing provisions, and residency requirements, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports. The amendments to SB.333, which affect the initiative approved by voters last November, passed the committee 14-6.

The committee changed language that would have imposed a 4 percent tax on gross receipts in 2018 and 2 percent in 2019 for medical cannabis providers with a plan that would see providers charged a $25 fee per cardholder or $100 per year. According to House Taxation Committee Chairman Jeff Essman, the state could adjust that fee depending on the need to cover regulation costs and maintain a reserve fund.

Democratic Rep. Mary Ann Dunwell said the change creates “inequity” in the industry compared to more traditional businesses.

“We don’t require CVS or any other pharmacy to pay a fee per customer so there’s inequity there,” she said in the report. “These are patients that we’re serving. They’re not head of cattle, for example, where a stockgrower is charged a per-capita fee for each head of cattle.”

Another change would allow smaller medical cannabis providers to forgo laboratory testing for up to three years, which Rep. Greg Hertz said would prevent “an undue burden on small providers in small communities.” Larger providers would be required to test their products as soon as the new regime is codified.

The residency changes require that providers be residents of Montana for three years; previous versions of the bill would have required residency requirements of either one or four years. The provision sunsets on July 1, 2020.

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