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Montana Faces Uncertainty with Newly Legal Cannabis

montana cannabis laws

The uncertain status of cannabis as a newly legalized substance in Montana has officially moved to terra firma. On April 23, 2021, the state Senate passed a bill that had been passed by the House earlier in April, to legalize recreational marijuana and direct taxes on the drug to support addiction treatment and conservation programs as part of the Montana cannabis laws. As of April 27th, the Legislature has passed Senate-amended House Bill 701. After a wild ride that didn’t always follow protocol, it is now destined for the governor’s desk for signature. Per plan, retail sales of recreational Montana cannabis are slated to begin in late 2022 or early 2023.

Recreational Montana Cannabis Laws

The bill states recreational cannabis sales will be taxed at a 20% rate. From these revenues, which are anticipated to be $217 million in the first year and $234 million in 2024, the substance abuse prevention program, the HEART Fund, will annually receive $6 million; 20 percent of the remaining sum will go to Habitat Montana, a program to fund conservation easements. From there, 4% goes to parks, trail maintenance and non-game wildlife habitats, with several hundred thousand dollars then going to care for veterans and programs within the Department of Justice, followed, ultimately, by the general fund. Technically, cannabis has been legal for recreational use since January 1, 2021, when Initiative 190 went into effect. Medical cannabis was legalized by ballot initiative in 2004.

Additionally included in HB701 is a new requirement for medical marijuana growers: to keep operations confined to indoor environments such as greenhouses or hoop houses. This change would allow outdoor cultivation for only hemp production. The aim of this movement is to prevent cross-pollination between hemp and marijuana. According to researchers at Michigan State University, a single male cannabis flower can produce 350,000 pollen grains capable of traveling great distances in the wind. While some cultivators are in favor, as well as the state agriculture department, some medical marijuana growers object, noting the bill would impact the investments made in outdoor facilities. This group has also argued the cannabis industry is more lucrative and more established than the state hemp program, and therefore, should not be forced to adjust in favor of hemp. The amendment does grandfather marijuana cultivators who are licensed to grow outside as of November 3, 2020.

Further, local governments are able to ban marijuana operations, if granted permission from voters first. A seed-to-sale tracking system will be implemented, and licensees must be vertically integrated, however, licensed operators are permitted to sell up to 50% of the products grown or manufactured on the wholesale market to other cannabis businesses. HB701 calls for ten cultivation tiers, including a micro-tier of up to 250 square feet.

Cannabis Business Fees

Regarding fees and availability of cannabis business licenses in Big Sky Country, many advantages have presented themselves. Although only Montana residents can obtain medical and recreational cannabis licenses, there are no statewide limits on medical marijuana providers. Those existing providers will receive an exclusive opportunity to enter the recreational market for the first 12 months. Residents of the state have been accepting of the medical marijuana program, with patient counts reaching 3.8% per capita. Pepper Petersen, spokesman for New Approach Montana, the committee running the legalization campaign, said the residency requirement was carefully considered. “We wanted to make sure the people who participate have already proven their worth in the Montana system,” Petersen said. “It keeps things tighter and a little more homegrown.” As a precedent, however, residency requirements have been challenged in the other state courts.

Cannabis and Native Americans in Montana

In other news regarding Montana cannabis laws, the Montana-based Crow Tribe recently approved an ordinance to oversee its own cannabis cultivation and sales, with the tribe benefiting from the proceeds. Cannabis products will be sold by the tribal government at a sales tax rate of 7 percent. Thor Hoyte, legal counsel for the Crow Tribe, indicated the tribe would run its cannabis program parallel to the state, despite its sovereignty and not needing state permission. “Not only are we paralleling the state in terms of carry and transaction limits. The Crow Tribe is going further … in terms of the labeling, testing and that sort of rubric,” he said to the Independent Record. Hoyt also noted the industry would be a potential jobs driver in the Nation, which has a 75% unemployment rate.

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Swing through @up_n_smoke_fort_collins if you're in that area to cop some CVaults and some @bovedacannabis  for your dad for Fathers Day! Makes the perfect gift!
Hope everyone is having an awesome Saturday!
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Happy FRIDAY!!! Enjoy this amazing shot of some amazing nug by the amazing @prettylilcannabee AMAZING!!!
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Yall peep this #londonbridgeF3 shot by @renzobudhaund 
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What is everyone smoking on right this second?
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Check out these super sick PR boxes that @doja.life is sending out, complete with a whitelabeled CVault!
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📸: @coleandcogifts 
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@dilligafcustomdesigns cultivated some #PowerKush and cured it up in a CVault. Not bad for his first ever indoor grow! Congrats fam! We love being a part of someones process and are always humbled by the support we receive. Thank you all 🙏🏼
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@210sfarms always has the flavors chillin in the CVault! Hope everyone is having a great Saturday. Remember to always stop and smell the flowers!
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@tegridyfarms918 cultivated this beautiful #velvetpie bred by @inhousegenetics_official 
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You gotta look at this mix of #bluedream and #districtcookies all stay CVault FRESH! Be sure to check out @cannabinol_mom for more awesome shots and content!
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Check out this European CBD flower in a CVault, curing up over in Switzerland!!! 
Shout out to @highgarden_cbd for the shot. We love seeing how widespread our products are. It means the world to us to have the support of you all! CVault fam keeps growing bigger everyday! Happy Schmonday!
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Hope everyone is enjoying their Sunday! Peep these colors! @poweredbypotency had some #pinkputang #purpleputang and #salamiglue curing up in a CVault!
Never get tired of seeing this beautiful flower. What is everyone smoking on today?
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@prettylilcannabee coming in with this amazing shot! Clovers and some dank nug! LETS GO!!!!
Have a great weekend CVault Fam!
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@roughneck_1620 has some nugs in the CVault looking fresh!
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Lights! Camera! CVault! Action!
A little #BTS action from @the_loco_gardener of some #northernlights 
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First show in over a year! @_cannacon_ OKC here we come! 
Anyone got any recommendations for Oklahoma City?
@killerk87 has some #mangomeat chillin in the CVault! Looks at that color!!!
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CannaCon roll call!!! Who all is going to be at CannaCon OKC this week? If you are, be sure to swing by booth 807 to meet us! See ya there fam!
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