Proposed rules raise the bar for businesses, but could raise costs
Last update: December 18, 2017
After significant delay, the state’s regulatory agency overseeing Montana’s medical marijuana program recently introduced proposed rules for business licenses. They were not without controversy for many, as the state proposed rules across a wide range of areas including testing, labeling, and seed-to-sale inventory tracking, among many others. The rules mark a significant new direction in a state that has largely operated without marijuana business regulations since 2004.
The rules come following guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice, which states that jurisdictions that allow marijuana-related activity must carefully control it. Montana, along with California and Michigan, are the last three states to make the shift from what many consider under-regulated environments for businesses.
But in Montana, as in every other state, the need for regulation must be balanced with the financial burden it can place on the patients the program is designed to help. As the agency continues to consider rules, we hope those it adopts will not unduly burden seriously ill patients.
Montana’s harsh marijuana laws and efforts to change them
In Montana, possession of even a single joint for non-medical purposes can land a person in jail for six months, while possession of 60 grams or more (a little over two ounces) can result in a sentence of up to five years. These stiff marijuana penalties cause related negative consequences.
In 2012, there were 1,502 arrests or citations for marijuana-related offenses, 95% of which were for possession. The number of marijuana arrests more than tripled since 2003. At the same time, law enforcement was unable to solve 91% of all burglaries — including home invasions — and over 85% of all motor vehicle thefts. Instead of arresting adults for possession of a product that is safer than alcohol, law enforcement should focus its limited resources on going after real criminals. It’s past time for a better solution. Ask your legislators to support reducing the penalty for possession of cannabis to a civil fine.
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