Montana Could Shut Down Recreational Marijuana Dispensaries If This GOP-Led Bill Becomes Law

A Republican lawmaker is seeking to put an end to dispensaries selling recreational cannabis in Montana with a bill he filed on Friday, reported Montana Free Press.

Senate Bill 546 from state Sen. Keith Regier (R), is designed to amend the state's marijuana retail market by "eliminating adult-use dispensaries" and banning recreational marijuana sales.

The measure also aims to raise the state tax on medical cannabis from 4% to 20% as well as to drastically lower the potency of cannabis products and amounts that can be legally possessed.

The Senate Business, Labor and Economic Affairs Committee are scheduled to hold a legislative hearing on Wednesday, March 29, Sen. Jason Small, (R), the committee's chair, said.

If the bill becomes law, Montana's cannabis market would generate less than half as much tax revenue over the same period.

"If SB 546 passes, it would render the entire cannabis program worthless, not only for the operators but also for consumers and patients in the state," Zach Block, the owner of Montana Canna, a dispensary in Kalispell, told the news outlet. "You'd be delivering a subpar product to a small group of people and you're ignoring the majority of the worthy demographic."

Montana officially became the 14th state to legalize adult-use cannabis in 2020. Fifty-eight percent of voters said yes to the initiative during the November election making the possession and use of one ounce or less of cannabis or eight grams or less of marijuana concentrate by adults 21 or older legal.

Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) signed a bill to implement legalization in March 2021 and then a legislative panel approved the rules for the adult-use program the following December. Retail marijuana sales kicked off statewide on January 1, 2022, garnering $1.5 million in its first weekend of sales.

Recent Legislative Updates

Earlier this month, the Montana House of Representatives moved forward on a measure with bipartisan support that would require cannabis growers to deal with the odor around their businesses. House Bill 304, sponsored by Rep. Jedediah Hinkle, would require all indoor weed manufacturing operations to install an air filtration system or other "odor neutralization system."

Meanwhile, a separate measure, House Bill 351 from Rep. Kerri Seekins-Crowe, which sought to prohibit marijuana businesses from promoting their brand or business in print, on TV and radio, or on billboards was struck down by the Senate Business, Labor and Economic Affairs Committee last week, one day after it got a hearing.

Photo: Courtesy of Budding . on Unsplash

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Posted In: CannabisGovernmentNewsRegulationsPoliticsRetail SalesMarketsGeneralGreg GianforteJason SmallKeith Regiermarijuana salesMontana CannabisRecreational CannabisSenate Bill 546Zach Block
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