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What Are the Cannabis Licensing Requirements in Montana? (April 2024)

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In 2004, Montana legalized medical marijuana through a ballot initiative, with 62% of state voters in favor. The state's medical marijuana laws were later expanded in 2016 by Initiative 182. Providers seeking to participate in the program must secure a license from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. The application process is thorough, requiring proof of residency, fingerprints, a signed agreement with the registered cardholder, a commitment not to serve non-cardholders, and details about the cultivation location. While there is no set limit on the number of licenses issued, there is a production cap.

Individuals with qualifying medical conditions, such as cancer, severe chronic pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, and post-traumatic stress disorder, can apply for a medical marijuana card.

In May 2021, Governor Greg Gianforte signed HB 701 into law, implementing Initiative I-190, a ballot measure that legalized marijuana. Voter approval for this measure was obtained in November 2020. The law allows adults aged 21 and over to possess and purchase up to 1 ounce of cannabis, including up to 8 grams of concentrate and/or up to 800 mg of THC in edible form. Home cultivation is permitted, with a limit of two plants per adult or four plants per household. Recreational cannabis sales commenced on January 1, 2022.

Under the law, the potency of cannabis flower is capped at 35% THC, and edible products are limited to 100 mg of THC, with no more than 10 mg per serving.

Cannabis License Types in Montana

Cultivator Licenses

Cultivation licenses permit the licensee to cultivate marijuana for both medical and adult use. These licenses follow a tiered canopy system, allowing for an increased allocation of cultivation space.

Manufacturer Licenses

A manufacturing license empowers the licensee to transform or combine marijuana into various products, concentrates, or extracts. It also allows for the packaging, repackaging, labeling, or relabeling of marijuana products in accordance with statutory and regulatory provisions.

Dispensary Licenses

Dispensaries serve as establishments where marijuana can be legally sold to registered cardholders and/or adult-use consumers. These licenses are categorized as either medical-only or adult-use. Medical-only dispensaries exclusively cater to registered cardholders, while adult-use dispensaries have the flexibility to serve both registered cardholders and adult-use consumers.

Transporter Licenses

Introduced through House Bill 701 in 2021, the Marijuana Transporter license enables businesses to transport marijuana and marijuana products between licensed premises, including testing laboratories, or to registered medical cardholders. However, transporters are not authorized to deliver to adult-use consumers.

Testing Lab Licenses

A marijuana testing laboratory license grants facilities the ability to conduct comprehensive testing of representative samples of marijuana and marijuana products. This includes analyzing the chemical composition, potency, and identifying the presence of molds, pesticides, or other contaminants.

Combined-Use Licenses

Exclusively designed for Montana’s eight federally recognized tribes and entities majority-owned by these tribes, combined-use licenses integrate cultivation and dispensary activities within the same premises.

Conclusion

Between January 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023, the Montana Department of Revenue is exclusively authorized to issue adult-use cultivation, manufacturing, and retail licenses to established medical cannabis businesses. In Montana, adults are permitted to purchase cannabis from stores situated in “green counties.” These are counties where the majority of voters endorsed the I-190 ballot initiative, which legalized adult-use cannabis. In these green counties, local authorities are prohibited from preventing the establishment of adult-use cannabis businesses.

However, in counties where the majority of voters opposed I-190, adult-use cannabis businesses cannot operate unless approved by the local government. At the point of sale, a 20% tax is applied to cannabis products for adult consumers. Additionally, local governments reserve the right to impose an extra tax of up to 3% based on the sale price of cannabis products.