Montana lawmakers proposing "cleanups" for state's marijuana law

Posted at 8:10 AM, Jun 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-15 10:10:54-04

HELENA — State lawmakers are continuing their work to “clean up” some of the issues that have come up since the launch of recreational marijuana sales in Montana.

The Economic Affairs Interim Committee is working to put together a draft bill for the 2023 legislative session that would propose a number of small adjustments to the marijuana law. Many of them would simply be technical changes, resolving inconsistencies in wording.

Some of the larger changes include simplifying the rules for background checks on marijuana businesses’ employees – putting the responsibility on employers instead of the Montana Department of Revenue – and fixing wording that keeps some local-option tax revenue from being distributed to municipalities.

One of the biggest topics of discussion was clarifying the rules for Montana tribes that want to take part in the adult-use marijuana program. Each of the state’s eight tribal nations was guaranteed a marijuana license. However, the Revenue Department says, because of the way the law is worded, those licenses would be limited to a very small cultivation area.

The committee says that goes against the Legislature’s intent – which was that the tribes be able to scale up their operations like any other producer. Lawmakers expressed disappointment with the department’s position. They supported revising the language during the next legislative session, but said they’re concerned about the continued delay that will mean for the tribes.

So far, no tribes have taken the opportunity to participate in the program.

Also on Tuesday, the committee issued an objection to a Revenue Department rule on the packaging for marijuana products, saying they want more clarification on it. Industry representatives objected to some of the requirements for Revenue to approve packaging, saying they were unnecessary.