Montana Restricting Tribes to Smallest Tier of Cannabis Licenses

A recent letter by the director of Montana’s Department of Revenue revealed that tribes in the state are restricted to the lowest tier of cannabis cultivation license.

Full story after the jump.

The director of the Montana Department of Revenue (DOR) wrote in a letter that Montana tribes are restricted to the lowest cultivation tier structure under the state’s adult-use cannabis law, the Montana Free Press reports.

In a letter to the Economic Affairs Interim Committee (EAIC) dated June 2, DOR Director Brendan Beatty contradicted the committee’s interpretation of the legalization law. Interpreting the law last year after its passage, the committee said tribes could start at the tier 1 level but expand their tier structure like any other licensee, according to the report. But the law included other restrictions, such as requiring facilities to be located off of tribal land and for cultivation and retail to be limited to the same building.

Lawmakers say these restrictions will hamper tribes’ success in the industry and disincentivize them from entering the market.

“During the last legislative session, a lot of the tribes and the legislators saw this as an opportunity, finally, for the tribes to get in on equal footing on the ground floor of the marijuana industry, and start bringing in additional revenue for themselves,” state Sen. Jason Small, a member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe, said in the report.

Small advocated for the combined tribal licenses. He said the DOR has been “trying to hamstring our (tribal) efforts.” So far, no tribes have applied for a tier 1 license and Small feels the restrictions have contributed to their absence:

“I’ve had conversations with a couple of different tribes that say, ‘Why even bother if they’re handicapping us here?’” – Small, via the Montana Free Press

Beatty cites language from the legalization law that says “a combined-use marijuana license consists of one tier-one canopy license and one dispensary license allowing for the operation of a dispensary.”

“Regardless of this committee’s stated desire to allow combined use licensees to increase beyond a tier one, the statute is clear and unambiguous and limits a combined use licensee to a single tier one canopy license,” the director wrote in the letter.

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