Montana Cannabis Attorneys
Like multiple other states around the U.S., Montana now has an adult and medical use regulated program in operation for cannabis, opening up lucrative opportunities for business owners.
Several initiatives since 2004 have gradually made cannabis an acceptable part of life in the state and the most recent legislation, Initiative I-190 (passed in November 2020) allows nonmedical usage and retail sales to anyone aged over 21.
The cannabis industry should now be in full flow in Montana but legislative holdups have created some delays.
With sales of nonmedical cannabis now beginning, the industry here is well-placed to thrive in the coming years. However, state regulators are unlikely to loosen their grip on the industry and you can expect some challenging obligations if you want to enter the industry here.
Aspiring cannabis business owners must be prepared to follow the evolving regulations and abide by the maze of local and state laws. Violations can result in administrative penalties or even criminal investigations at the state or federal level (potentially resulting in life-changing felony charges).
The cannabis attorneys at Cannabis Law Solutions have followed the evolution of cannabis legalization in Montana closely. We have a comprehensive understanding of the regulations and can help you navigate the complex legal landscape and capitalize on the opportunities provided in all sectors of the industry here.
Laws for possession (personal use) in Montana
The Montana laws for possession of cannabis for personal use are as follows:
Up to one ounce
One to two ounces (first offense)
- Civil infraction
- No incarceration
- Fine of $200
One to two ounces (second offense)
- Civil infraction
- No incarceration
- Fine of $300
Over two ounces
- Felony offense with up to five years in prison and a $45,000 fine.
Laws for the sale or delivery of cannabis in Montana
The Montana laws for the illegal sale or delivery of cannabis are harsh—even more so if the offense involves minors:
More than two ounces with or without compensation
- Felony offense with one year to life in prison and a $50,000 fine
- Mandatory minimum of one year in prison
From an adult to a minor
- Felony offense with two years to life in prison and a $50,000 fine
- Mandatory minimum of two years in prison
Within 1000 feet of school grounds
- Felony offense with three years to life in prison and a $50,000 fine
- Mandatory minimum of three years in prison
Cannabis cultivation laws in Montana
The Montana laws for the cultivation of cannabis are as follows:
Up to two plants and/or two seedlings per adult:
More than two mature plants up to 1lb or 30 plants
- Felony offense
- Up to 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine
More than 1lb or more than 30 plants
- Felony offense
- Up two years to life in prison and a $50,000 fine
Second or subsequent offense
- Twice the term of imprisonment and twice the authorized fine
Initiative I-190 in Montana
Punishments for noncompliance with the laws are harsh in Montana. To run a legal cannabis business here requires full knowledge of the latest regulations—in particular, Initiative I-190, which is the main piece of legislation to legalize adult-use non-medical cannabis in Montana.
Initiative I-190 introduced many requirements for the Montana cannabis industry. Following is a summary:
- 20% tax on non-medical cannabis
- 10.5% of the tax revenue allocated to the state’s general fund
- Individuals serving a sentence for a prior cannabis offense can apply for resentencing or expungement of the conviction
- Advertising of cannabis and related products is prohibited
- Packaging and labeling of cannabis products must abide by regulations to prevent accidental ingestion and access by children
- Cannabis provider licenses are issued only to in-state residents
- Localities can regulate, ban or restrict cannabis businesses within their jurisdiction
Other previous initiatives also introduced important legislation concerning the industry. For instance, Initiative CI-118 amended the Montana Constitution so that the state could set the minimum legal age for non-medical cannabis consumption at 21
The Department of Revenue is the designated authority for regulating the recreational cannabis market in Montana. It regulates the cultivation, transportation, and sale of cannabis and cannabis-infused products in the state.
The tight regulations introduce considerable challenges for obtaining a license, retaining it and avoiding administrative penalties.
The cannabis attorneys at Cannabis Law Solutions have been closely following the changing regulations in Montana and can advise you on how to overcome the obstacles to setting up for business here.
What types of cannabis licenses are available in Montana?
The Department of Revenue receives and approves applications for cannabis business licenses in Montana.
For the first 12 months after the legislation passed, they only issued licenses to cannabis providers, cannabis-infused products providers, and dispensaries that were already licensed.
However, multiple different licenses are now available for newcomers to the market, providing your business meets the stringent requirements. The three main license categories are:
- Dispensary licenses
- Testing laboratory licenses
- Canopy licenses for cannabis providers and cannabis-infused products providers
The canopy licenses are further broken down like this:
- Micro tier license: up to 250 square feet at one registered premises
- Tier 1 canopy license: up to 1,000 square feet at one registered premises (500 square feet minimum equipped for cultivation)
- Tier 2 license: up to 2,500 square feet at up to two registered premises (1,100 square feet minimum equipped for cultivation)
- Tier 3 license: up to 5,000 square feet at up to three registered premises (2,600 square feet minimum equipped for cultivation)
- Tier 4 license: up to 7,500 square feet at up to four registered premises (5,100 square feet minimum equipped for cultivation)
- Tier 5 license: up to 10,000 square feet at up to five registered premises (7,750 square feet minimum equipped for cultivation)
- Tier 6 license: up to 13,000 square feet at up to five registered premises (10,250 square feet minimum equipped for cultivation)
- Tier 7 license: up to 15,000 square feet at up to five registered premises (13,250 square feet minimum equipped for cultivation)
- Tier 8 license: up to 17,500 square feet at up to five registered premises (15,250 square feet minimum equipped for cultivation)
- Tier 9 license: up to 20,000 square feet at up to six registered premises (17,775 square feet minimum equipped for cultivation)
- Tier 10 license: up to 30,000 square feet at up to six registered premises (24,000 square feet minimum equipped for cultivation)
To legally operate a dispensary in Montana, you need a canopy license, a cultivation location license and a dispensary license. Medical dispensaries must cultivate all of their own products. To produce cannabis concentrates, you would also need a manufacturing license.
Dispensary license application fees vary from $500 to $100,000 depending on the number of locations you operate in. Canopy licenses range from $500 for a micro tier license up to $20,000 for a Tier 10 canopy license.
With these high fees and the stringent requirements for obtaining a license, most aspiring business owners seek help to navigate the application processes.
What is needed to apply for a cannabis business license in Montana?
To apply for a cannabis business license in Montana you will need at least the following:
- A completed application form from the Department of Revenue, showing the names, dates of birth, and street addresses for all owners
- Proof that you are all Montana residents
- Fingerprints of all owners
- The street address of the location at which you will cultivate cannabis or manufacture cannabis products
- Agreement for background checks to be conducted on all owners
- Payment of the applicable license fees
The department is unlikely to issue a license if any of the following apply:
- You have a felony conviction involving fraud, deceit, or embezzlement (or for distribution of drugs to a minor) within the past five years
- You have resided in Montana for less than one year
- You are under 18 years of age
How to prepare your cannabis business license application
Before you apply for a cannabis business license in Montana, you will need a viable business plan and you will have to incorporate your business.
Neither of these is straightforward considering the size of the commitment you must make to enter the industry here for the first time. You should be clear on the type of business you want to operate, its structure, your short and longer-term goals, how you intend to comply with the regulations, and so on.
Because of the many important considerations, business owners often find it best to consult with an attorney about the regulations in Montana.
Our cannabis attorneys can help you ready your business for the initial license application and, once we have helped you secure your business license, advise you on maintaining it by complying with all local, state and federal regulations.
Cannabis business legal planning, advice and support in Montana
Whether you want to grow, manufacture, retail or otherwise be part of the burgeoning cannabis industry in Montana, the legal hurdles are likely to be substantial.
Our cannabis business attorneys can provide the knowledge and support you need to plan, incorporate, protect, and grow a successful cannabis business.
For informed legal advice, call 866-329-0729 for a consultation with a knowledgeable cannabis attorney at Cannabis Law Solutions.