Montana Cannabis Business Licenses
WHAT IS MONTANA'S CURRENT CANNABIS MARKET STATUS?
Montana is about to approach a pivotal moment in their cannabis history. Medical cannabis has been legal in Montana since 2004 and has undergone revisions since then. In August, it was officially announced that there will be two legalizing measures on the November ballot. Recreational legalization could be on the horizon very soon.
WHAT ARE MONTANA'S CANNABIS LAWS?
The Montana Medical Marijuana Act was approved by popular vote in 2004 which legalized medical cannabis for debilitating diseases. Certain provisions restricted medical cannabis providers from servicing more than three patients which caused outrage amongst patients and providers. In November of 2016 Bill I-182 was passed, which revised the 2004 law and allowed providers to service more than three patients.
In May 2017 Governor Steve Bullock signed into law SB333, which enacted regulations on the medical cannabis industry by adding mandatory testing and seed to sale tracking. Montana’s Department of Public Health and Human Services (MDPHHS) decided to adopt the Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Regulation and Complication system, also known as METRC.
WHAT IS MONTANA'S CANNABIS LICENSING TIMELINE & CANNABIS APPLICATION PROCESS?
In order to apply for a dispensary license you must first apply for a Canopy License to become a Provider and/or MIPP. Applications for Canopy and Dispensaries can be processed concurrently. Once you have been approved for your business license, METRC Level 1 Training must be completed. To enroll or verify if training is complete, contact METRC Support, (877) 566-6506. All dispensary applicants will apply online via Complia’s Industry Portal. The following is required to submit an application for a dispensary license:
Persons of interest (anyone with an ownership interest) must submit fingerprints and have their background check complete before an application can be processed.
Signed Applicant Rights and Consent to Fingerprint for each person of interest. If you have been approved for your provider license you may use the same fingerprints if done within 1 year to add an MIPP (Chemical Manufacturing Endorsement) or Dispensary License. During the application process, indicate your provider license number on the general information tab when prompted. You will still upload consent to fingerprint documents and sign the Request to Waive Fingerprints portion at the bottom of the form. The department will verify your provider license and last fingerprint results on file.
Copy of MT Driver’s License, MT State ID, Tribal ID, or Passport for each person of interest. If submitting a passport, include a proof of residency document for each passport. Acceptable proof of residency documents include a utility bill or lease agreement. Please contact the Montana Medical Marijuana Program for additional guidance.
If renting or leasing the property where you are dispensing marijuana, you must include a notarized Property Owner Permission Form.
Register for an employee badge (all employees must register as well). Dispensary applications will be processed in the order received. An email notification will be sent upon receipt of application. After review, an email indicating approval, rejection, or denial will be sent. Further instructions will be included if applicable. If your application was rejected, follow the Application Rejection Process to remediate the outstanding issues and resubmit your application. When an application is approved, an email notification will be sent with instructions on how to get credentialed into METRC’s tracking system. Access to METRC is not available until a business license application has been approved. Submit Renewal applications 45 days before expiration date to allow for processing. Renewal notifications will be emailed 45 days before license(s) expire. Contact Montana Medical Marijuana Program (406) 444-0596 for questions regarding the application process.
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF CANNABIS IN MONTANA?
Like most states, cannabis in Montana had been outlawed during the prohibition era in the 1920’s. Fast forward a few decades, Montana experienced its own fame in the illegal cannabis market. In 1985, a failing Montana beef ranch turned to cannabis to bring in some profits and pay off outstanding death. The Kurth family who owned the ranch were successful in their plan, and thrived off of their cannabis sales. Once their debts were reduced, they decided to scale back their efforts, however drug traffickers they had worked with were threatening the family. The ranch was attacked by criminals impersonating DEA agents who beat the owners and stole plants, and the couple was threatened with reporting their activities to the DEA if they did not pay extortion money. The extortionists did indeed report the ranch, and in October 1987 it was raided by the DEA, and the Kurths were arrested.
After their arrest, the Kurths were informed that they also owed tax on their cannabis proceeds to the Montana Department of Revenue. In the case of Montana Department of Revenue v. Kurth Ranch (1994), the Supreme Court concluded that Montana's 1987 Dangerous Drug Tax Act, passed just weeks before the Kurth's arrest, was a punitive tax rather than normal revenue generation, and that to tax their proceeds after the Kurths had already been punished for drug charges would be unconstitutional double jeopardy.
In 2004, The Montana Medical Marijuana Act was approved by popular vote which legalized medical cannabis for debilitating diseases such as PTSD, cancer, and other chronic illnesses. The bill was criticized for its very harsh restrictions, only allowing a provider to service three patients. In November of 2016 Bill I-182 was passed, which revised the 2004 law and allowed providers to service more than three patients.
In January 2020, cannabis activists collaborated with New Approach Montana and submitted Montana I-190, a ballot initiative to legalize cannabis in the state. On August 13, the state Secretary of State announced it had qualified for the November ballot
DOES MONTANA HAVE A HEMP PROGRAM?
PREPARING FOR THE MONTANA CANNABIS MARKET
We are ready to support your team as you prepare for cannabis licensure in Montana. Contact Point7 to discuss the fully customizable products and service packages available that have proved successful for operators around the country.