Montana close to enacting medical cannabis rules

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A bill that would create a seed-to-sale tracking system, licenses, fees and regulations for Montana’s medical marijuana industry is one vote away from moving to the governor.

The Montana House gave preliminary approval to a bill to regulate the medical marijuana industry after voters last November approved lifting restrictions that severely restricted sales of MMJ by dispensaries. The Senate already approved SB 333, which now must pass a final House vote before it goes to the governor.

A key change in the bill by a conference committee will have a direct business impact. Instead of paying a fee, as the House proposed, MMJ businesses would be taxed to pay for state regulatory costs. According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, companies must pay a first-year tax of 4% of gross sales to fund the formation of the regulatory structure but, in later years, will pay only a 2% tax.

The bill also requires:

  • State licensing for dispensaries, infused products companies, testing labs and cultivators
  • Seed-to-sale tracking of marijuana as a protection against the drug being sold on the black market
  • Cannabis testing
  • Registered MMJ users to have photo identification cards

Montana’s medical marijuana industry has been on the rebound since November, when voters approved an initiative that rolled back much of a highly restrictive 2011 law. Under the law and a subsequent Montana Supreme Court decision, MMJ dispensaries were limited to three patients, making it impossible for the businesses to remain viable.

– Associated Press