Montana Regulator Restricts Tribal Cannabis Grow Licenses

Montana Regulator Restricts Tribal Cannabis Grow Licenses
High Times

Native American tribes in Montana have been reluctant to apply for cannabis licenses set aside for them by the state’s marijuana regulation bill after a government regulator placed restrictions on the size of cultivation operations allowed by the permits. In 2020, Montana voters passed Initiative 90, a measure to legalize pot for use by adults and allow for the production and sale of cannabis. The following year, state lawmakers passed House Bill 701 to establish a regulatory framework for commercial cannabis production and retail sales. HB 701 set aside cannabis licenses for the state’s Native American tribes, with each tribe automatically allocated a single combined-use license to cultivate and sell cannabis. Under the provisions of the measure, the facilities authorized by the licenses must not be on tribal land, and the cultivation and retail operations must be in the same location. Following the 2021 legislative session, the Economic Affairs Interim Committee attempted to confirm with the Department of Revenue that the licenses, while defined in state statute as tier 1 licenses limited to 1,000 square feet, could be eventually upgraded to a license allowing for a larger cultivation operation. But in a reply letter sent to the committee on June 2, Brendan Beatty, director of the Department of Revenue, wrote that tribes are not permitted to expand beyond the cultivation space permitted by tier 1 license. Montana Lawmakers Dispute Restriction But lawmakers including state Sen. Jason Small, a member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe, say the restriction to tier 1 grows, the state’s smallest permitted facilities, will limit the tribes’ success and serve as a barrier to entry into Montana’s regulated cannabis industry. “During the last legislative session, a lot of the tribes and the legislators saw this as an opportunity, finally, for the tribes to get in on equal…

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