BILLINGS – The current legislative session has closed and bills have made their way to the governor’s desk to be signed;
One of those bills is Senate Bill 265 which revamps Montana’s medical marijuana program.
When Montana’s medical marijuana program first debuted in 2004 it, unfortunately, had some difficulties
“When this program was initially created in 2004, [it was] kind of just the wild west. Everybody was advertising where they wanted to, doing whatever they wanted to with no oversight,” said Medicine Creek owner Ryder Gerberding.
With the passing of Senate Bill 333 back in 2017 — and the current passing of bill 265 –there have been a lot of revisions to the program that tackle different elements.
The most noticeable change is the untethering of patients from only having one caregiver while placing 5-ounce limit that patients can buy each month.
“The state will have a system set up of all the providers who are in their tracking system and you can choose whomever you want to go to. That will give patients freedom if their traveling to go somewhere else,” said MAC CFO Jean Lucas.
One question is that with patients now being able to shop at multiple dispensaries what does that mean for competition in the industry?
“I think it’s going to be really good for competition and it’s going to allow providers to work on their niche. Say one provider is really good at making eatables,” Gerberding told MTN News.
The total sales in the medical marijuana program reached $45 million in 2018 and now the tax is being raised back to 4% to fund the program.
One aspect that hasn’t changed is the restrictions on advertising, prohibiting the industry to advertise in any medium including electronic — something that providers do not necessarily agree with.
If signed by Gov. Steve Bullock, the new bill would go into effect in July of 2020.
-Marcus Boyer reporting for MTN News