Montana lawmakers kill bill intended to erase recreational marijuana industry

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A proposed Montana state law that would have effectively canceled the state’s recreational marijuana industry and put new, draconian restrictions on medical cannabis died in committee.

Republican state Sen. Keith Regier introduced Senate Bill 546 on March 30.

Six days later, a Senate committee voted to table the bill, the Montana Free Press reported.

The bill’s stated intent was to “reduce the demand for marijuana sales” in the state by banning all non-medical cannabis sales.

Montana voters legalized recreational marijuana in November 2020.

During the first year of sales, which began on Jan. 1, 2022, state retailers rang up $203 million in transactions.

The Montana Senate expressed concerns about subverting the will of the voters.

Opponents included Jason Ellsworth, Republican Senate president, and Jason Small, chair of the chamber’s Business, Labor, and Economic Affairs Committee.

Both lawmakers joined the committee’s Democrats in voting down the bill by a 6-4 margin, the Free Press reported.

If passed, the bill would have:

  • Raised the state MMJ tax from 4% to 20%.
  • Reduced to one the number of plants adults may grow at home.
  • Capped the potency of cannabis flower and MMJ concentrates at 10%.

Sponsors of the bill included national prohibitionist organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which claimed that the only purpose of “potent marijuana products” is “trying to addict kids,” the Free Press reported.