In a reversal of previous rules, the Montana Department of Revenue will allow tribes to acquire licenses for high-capacity cultivation facilities. The Economic Affairs Interim Committee lifted its bipartisan objection delaying the new industry’s regulations after several proposed rules were amended, including regulating licenses on Indian reservations and how businesses manage marijuana waste. Adult-use sales in Montana will commence on January 1, 2022.
House Bill 701, the legalization framework lawmakers passed earlier this year, previously restricted tribes to tier 1 licenses (1,000 square feet of indoor cultivation). Tribes are now eligible for all available licenses, including tier 12, which allows 50,000 square feet of cultivation.
The rules require current outdoor grows to remain the same size and do not allow any new outdoor cultivation facilities for their cannabis supplies. Grandfathered in, however, are outdoor grows that were operational before the 2020 election.
Lawmakers on Monday also eliminated a proposed rule to allow providers to label their products as “cannabis” instead of “marijuana.” Sen. Jason Ellsworth argued that while cannabis may be the scientific term, children may not recognize the term and might not be deterred from consuming the product. Despite the contention among some that it is a pejorative term, “marijuana” is seen to be more clearly apparent to children what the contents are.
In September, the Department of Revenue loosened cannabis industry advertising rules, allowing online advertising without warnings but requiring an “Are you 21 and older?” question. Cannabis dispensaries must still follow local sign ordinances under the approved advertising rules.
Only four or five tribal governments are currently participating in the new cannabis market. J.D. “Pepper” Petersen, president of the trade group Montana Cannabis Guild, hopes to see more engagement.
“We want to see the tribes participate, and we want to see an even playing field so that the folks that may have been impacted heavily by this could benefit from this as well, instead of just a subsect of our society,” he said.