The Economic Affairs Interim Committee unanimously voted on Thursday to stall the rulemaking process for implementing the state’s new recreational marijuana program, with lawmakers asserting that some of the Department of Revenue’s (DOR) interpretations of House Bill 701, a law passed this session regulating recreational marijuana, stray too far from its legislative intent. As the January 1 implementation deadline for the program inches closer, the committee postponed all decisions on the new rules proposal until its next meeting on Monday. Until then, Sen. Jason Ellsworth, R-Hamilton, and Sen. Shane Morigeau, D-Missoula, will work with DOR to clarify and amend the rules to more closely match legislative intent. “I would say that trying to pass a comprehensive rules package that is on a key piece of legislation that affects everyone in Montana is a very difficult task. We have to be precise, in our wording, phrasing and it’s very important to get that accurate. We only get one opportunity at this, and we need to make sure that we get it right,” Ellsworth said. During Thursday’s meeting, lawmakers and members of the public weighed in on equity among tribes in the implementation process, how licensing fees should be handled, warning labels on marijuana packaging and who should benefit from a moratorium on new licenses.The Hamilton legislator was specifically concerned about the language surrounding Native American tribes’ ability to expand their marijuana grow operations under their automatic combined-use licenses and whether dispensaries or the DOR should be tasked with coming up with training standards for industry employees.
Marijuana Moment, Marijuana Moment, 12/10/2021 09:30:00