Montana releases temporary medical marijuana rules

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The Montana health department has issued temporary emergency rules for the state’s medical marijuana program.

Parts of the program took effect Friday as state regulators develop permanent regulations, which must be in place by April 30, 2018, the Billings Gazette reported.

The emergency rules, which expire in late October, include clarifications on how the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services will regulate marijuana testing laboratories and cannabis concentrates manufacturers during the transition period.

The emergency rules include allowing the health department to issue licenses to marijuana testing facilities on a temporary, case-by-case basis. This is so the facilities can begin to legally handle medical marijuana, though required testing doesn’t begin until 2018.

Montana’s MMJ market has been on the upswing since voters approved an initiative last November that rolled back 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.

There are currently more than 15,000 registered medical marijuana patients in Montana, the Gazette reported. By contrast, the program had just over 8,000 patients in December 2016.

– Associated Press