Montana Lawmakers Considering Bills to Overhaul Voter-Approved Cannabis Law

Montana’s legislature is considering three different proposals for regulating the state’s upcoming adult-use cannabis marketplace.

Full story after the jump.

Montana lawmakers are considering three bills that seek to determine the state’s cannabis regime ahead of its scheduled rollout later this year, KTVH reports. Montana voters approved the reforms during last November’s General Election 58% to 42%.

Under the voter-approved framework, recreational and medical cannabis licenses would be separated but the same person could hold both licenses and only current medical cannabis companies would be able to request an adult-use license in the first year. The tax rate would be set at 20% and revenues would be directed to wildlife habitat and other conservation programs, veterans’ services, and health care worker salaries. The measure also includes local opt-out provisions and allows home cultivation. It would also require the state to begin accepting industry applications by October 1.

The overhaul bill proposed by Republican Rep. Mike Hopkins would push back the timeline for the state to begin accepting recreational cannabis licenses until Jan. 1, 2022; allow only current medical cannabis companies to request adult-use licenses for 18 months; change the opt-out provisions to opt-in; allow municipalities to add a 5% local tax on sales; institute THC caps; prohibit people from participating in the industry if they had any drug-related convictions – including from other states – and would direct most of the revenue onto the state’s general fund and up to $6 million a year for the mental health and substance abuse treatment-focused HEART Fund.

The bills backed by Republican Reps. Derek Skees and Matt Regier would create a single license for both medical and recreational sellers. The bills would reduce the tax on adult-use sales to 15% while raising the tax on medical sales from 4% to 5% and direct one-third of those revenues to a trust fund, with the fund’s interest eventually being used to address any negative impacts from legalization and for the state’s pension liability.

The bill proposed by Republican Rep. Brad Tschida would set up the industry more like how the state regulates alcohol, including a three-tiered system that would require dispensaries to purchase from wholesalers, who would purchase it from cultivators; keep the 20% tax intact but charge it on the wholesale price and direct those revenues to the general fund; and require home cultivators to acquire a license.

The legislature must take action on the bills this session in order to make any changes to the law.

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