Montana Legislature prepares to regulate medical cannabis, again

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The Montana Legislature is gearing up for a new session of lawmaking, and on tap already are up to 10 bills related to the medical cannabis industry.

According to the Missoulian, the measures vary from an outright overturn of Initiative 182 – which Montana voters approved in the election earlier this month – to pro-cannabis bills that would restore access for MMJ patients.

The legislature has immense power over the industry in Montana, given that I-182 is a state statute and not an amendment to the state constitution. That means legislators are free to adjust the law as they see fit. That’s what led to I-182 in the first place, since voters approved MMJ in 2004 and legislators cracked down with an anti-industry law in 2011, which finally went into effect in August 2016.

But now, the new law may not allow dispensaries to reopen until June, meaning the legislature has months to tinker with MMJ industry ordinances.

Six bills have been drafted by pro-cannabis state Sen. Diane Sands, a Missoula Democrat who wants to repeal the current limit of three patients per MMJ caregiver. That alone would likely allow dispensaries to reopen.

But Republican legislative leaders, who control the majority in the statehouse, have declined to comment on whether they have plans for new regulations, the Missoulian reported.

So the fate of the Montana industry may remain unclear for months.