State regulators prepare for 2022 implementation of voter-approved legalization law
Last update: September 14, 2021
Officials with the Montana Department of Revenue are working to finalize regulations for the adult-use cannabis market, which is expected to open up next year. The legalization law Montanans approved in 2020 directs the department to begin accepting applications for cannabis business licenses by January 1, 2022. The regulators have been in discussions with the public and stakeholders in the industry about rules detailing how the cannabis market will be implemented.
Meanwhile, a recent study published by researchers at the University of Montana found that passage of legalization laws have no effect on teen cannabis use, further debunking a common argument from opponents of cannabis policy reform. The authors wrote that, “the overall association between [recreational marijuana law] adoption and marijuana use among adolescents was statistically indistinguishable from zero.”
Gov. Gianforte signs adult-use legalization implementation bill
After a series of back-and-forths in the state legislature, Montana lawmakers agreed on a plan to move ahead with legalization in May this year after voters approved Initiative 190 and Constitutional Initiative 118 to legalize cannabis for adults by a considerable margin in November 2020.
The final version of House Bill 701 makes modifications to the voter-approved law but keeps most of I-190’s original language intact. Montana’s network of activists who supported the ballot measure last year successfully fended off a series of last-minute attempts to make significant changes that would have undermined the will of the voters.
With the governor’s signature, HB 701 establishes January 1, 2022 as the starting date for legal cannabis sales in Montana. Home cultivation will still be allowed, but adults are now limited to two plants (up to four per household). The bill also appoints a special administrative judge and establishes a dedicated court process specifically to expedite expungements for individuals with prior low-level marijuana offenses on their records. Read a comprehensive summary of the legislation here.
Montana voters approve CI-118 and I-190 to legalize marijuana adults 21 and older!
In the 2020 Election, Montanans passed two complementary ballot initiatives to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for adults 21 and older. Constitutional Initiative 118, which amends the Montana Constitution to set the legal age for marijuana at 21, passed 58% to 42%. The statutory measure, Initiative 190, which outlines a comprehensive system of legalization overseen by the Montana Department of Revenue, passed by a similar margin, 57% to 43%.
Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project and director of the New Approach Montana ballot campaign, said, “This is a great day for Montana. These initiatives will expand access to medical marijuana, generate millions in new tax revenue, and end the injustice of arresting Montanans for personal marijuana possession. Montana joins a growing number of states that have replaced a failed policy of prohibition with a common sense approach to marijuana."