The recent legislative session in Montana was filled with ups and downs for those advocating for Cannabis policy change. While some bills sought to end the recreational cannabis industry entirely, or make changes to the amount of THC permissible in edibles, only a handful of proposals have made it all the way to the desk of Governor Greg Gianforte for consideration, according to an article from benzinga.com.
On May 23, the governor signed several measures into law that could help boost the marijuana industry, as reported by KRTV.
- House Bill 128, introduced by Rep. Josh Kassmier (R), proposes changes to House Bill 701, the cannabis industry framework bill passed in 2021. The bill seeks to extend the existing 18-month moratorium on new cannabis business licenses to June 30, 2025. If this bill is passed, only state-based medical marijuana businesses will be approved to sell recreational cannabis while tribes will be allowed to start their own facilities. Cannabis multi-state operators and other businesses looking to enter the market will have to wait at least two years to take advantage of the opportunity.
- House Bill 903, sponsored by Rep. Mike Hopkins (R), also addresses the moratorium on new licenses and specifically, when it began. The bill seeks to amend HB 701’s moratorium start date to April 27, 2021, allowing 16 businesses that applied before the set date to start selling recreational marijuana. The bill also seeks to impose a cumulative $5,000 fee per additional location annually to renew the licenses for stores run by licensed cannabis operators.
- House Bill 229, another bill from Rep. Hopkins that received the governor’s approval, allows for a 10% variation in the THC content of edibles. Previously, any cannabis product that was even slightly above the permissible amount was considered to have failed the safety test.
- House Bill 948, sponsored by Rep. Steven Galloway (R), makes it illegal to produce and distribute synthetic marijuana products, including Delta-8 THC and HHC. Delta-8 THC is a chemical component typically derived from legal CBD found in hemp plants. Although delta-8 occurs naturally in very small concentrations, it can produce a mild psychoactive effect in some people, similar to delta-9 THC.
What’s Happening with the Marijuana Tax Distribution Bill?
Meanwhile, Governor Gianforte’s decision to veto Senate Bill 442, which sought to regulate how $50 million in recreational cannabis taxes would have been distributed across the state, is facing strong opposition.
To that end, Sen. Mike Lang (R), the bill’s sponsor, has sought to override the Governor’s veto. Furthermore, according to The Western News, an association of the state’s counties has also voiced opposition to the governor’s decision.
“His veto ignores 132 legislators from both parties who voted for SB 442,” the association stated. “It ignores 56 county commissions and numerous local governments who support the bill because it supported needed county road maintenance, enabling farmers and ranchers to get their products to market and EMTs to respond to emergencies.”
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