What Does SB333 Mean for Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in Montana?

The Montana House and Senate have both passed SB333, a bill seeking to generally revise medical marijuana laws in Montana, and now the initiative is waiting to be signed into law via Governor Steve Bullock’s signature. Sponsored by Mary Caferro, a Helena Democrat, the new law would introduce reasonable taxation and regulations within Montana’s medical marijuana industry. Mary Caferro crafted the bill so that it complies with federal injunctions.

What Exactly Will Change?

The new law focuses on a handful of facets within the current industry; one being the tracking of each and every medical marijuana from seed, plant, to final cultivation and production. This would give our local government the ability to ensure the harvested cannabis that is meant for legal patients won’t end up on the black market and be sold illegally. This kind of state accountability would also help inhibit the federal government from raiding providers throughout Montana and would help safeguard the medical marijuana program here so that it isn’t shut down by some aspect of federal law.

Essentially, Bill SB333 is aimed at upholding a transparent, effective, and safe system for medical marijuana patients and providers by making sure providers are held responsible for their grow operations and to keep medical marijuana off the streets and away from our school systems.

This structure of tracking and accountability will require the implementation of a complex network infrastructure, one that will rely on the support of constituent’s tax dollars to operate effectively. Similar to other state models, SB333 will effectuate new taxes on medical marijuana to make sure that the money that is necessary to overview and grow Montana’s new system is in place and that things are regulated efficiently and transparently.

Another aspect of SB333 will require providers of medical marijuana who have over 10 patients in Montana to submit samples of their product to laboratories with oversight from the government who would then test and make sure the plant is pure and does not contain additives or chemicals to enhance effects. Those who have 10 or less patients will be exempt from this part of the law until 2020, after which time they too will be held to these same regulations. Random samples of product will be taken from providers or a licensed medical marijuana dispensary during unannounced inspections and tested for contaminants. All marijuana sold will contain a label showing whether it has been tested.

Changes also include the number of seedlings (plants that are both in a vegetative state and under a cubic foot) allowed for patients that are also their own provider to go from 12 to 4. Provider plant counts will be based on a canopy model. Provider fees will also go up to a maximum of $5,000 per year.

Further impacts of SB333

This law will also allow for concentrates and oils which contain THC to be legally created and sold by providers within the state.

In addition, Montana medical marijuana cards will now include a picture and will be capable of tracking purchases by registered cardholders. Minors will also be able to obtain medical marijuana from a provider, not just their parent or guardian.

Providers will need to have been a Montana resident for 3 years.

How Many Tax Dollars Are We Talking About?

SB333 will tax providers four percent on their gross sales the first year the law comes into effect, and follows up with a two percent tax after the first year is completed. These tax dollars will go directly to funding the regulation and oversight of the industry.

We will know by Friday, May 5th 2017 if Governor Steve Bullock has chosen to veto SB333 or allow it to become Montana law.