The 2020 election has been a turbulent event for the United States, but one thing was made clear: voters want marijuana legalization. Montana voted to legalize recreational use of cannabis alongside Arizona, New Jersey, and South Dakota. Initiative 190 and its necessary companion Constitutional Initiative 118, both received a 57 percent approval from voters on election day. But when does Montana’s new cannabis laws go into effect, what do they allow and are lawmakers on board?
Montana Cannabis Laws Go into Effect on New Year’s Day 2021
For most Montana residents the number one question is when does this law go into effect? The short and simple answer is New Year’s Day. Starting on January 1, 2021 it will be legal for residents to possess, use, and grow marijuana for personal use. So, those who are waiting in anticipation should prepare their favorite pipe, vape, or have something rolled to celebrate the new year and the new freedom.
What are the Possession and Home Growing Limits in Montana?
From January 1, 2021, possession of cannabis flower will be legal up to one ounce. You can also have up to eight grams of cannabis concentrates.
An individual may grow up to four mature plants and four seedlings at a time. However, there is an eight-plant maximum per household regardless of how many people live there.
It’s also important to note that there are restrictions to home growing beyond the number of plants.
- Plants must be kept at a private residence.
- Amounts over one ounce must be kept locked away and not visible to any public place.
- The grower must also own the residence or obtain written permission from the owner of the property.
- The cannabis produced must be for personal use only.
- The space where it’s grown cannot be shared, rented, or leased by an adult-use provider.
When Will Montana Retail Marijuana Sales Start?
It will be roughly a year before retail sales are available, with the expected rollout to start by January 2022. I-190 outlines that current medical marijuana providers and new in-state companies will run the show. This is thanks to a one-year moratorium on out-of-state companies. Once that year is up, out-of-state companies will only be able to enter the Montana industry with a small grow.
Also, I-90, or the Montana Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, should go into effect no later than October 1, 2021. This is the deadline for the Department of Revenue to establish the states rules and regulations. I-190, also passed by voters, mandates the state must begin accepting licenses for new businesses no later than January 1, 2022.
What is the Tax Rate on Commercial Cannabis?
I-90 implements a 20 percent sales tax on recreational marijuana sold by licensed vendors in the state of Montana. A little more than 10 percent of that tax revenue will go directly into the state fund. The remaining revenue will be used for a combination of conservation programs, substance abuse treatment, veterans’ services, health care costs and the local governments where cannabis is sold.
Are There Provisions for Criminal Record Expungement?
Expunging criminal records was overlooked on the earliest legalization ballot initiatives in other states and addressed by legislature later. Montana’s ballot measures made sure to include this from the start. It allows for those with cannabis-related offenses that are now legal to file for expungement. It also provides a path to have current sentences vacated or reduced depending on the offense.
Are There Any Anticipated Roadblocks to Implementation?
In the last eight years since Colorado and Washington legalized in 2012, there has been a significant uptick in ballot initiatives and legislation aimed at ending prohibition. For the first time, every ballot initiative for marijuana that made it to the vote was passed on election day. But that doesn’t mean that everyone is on board just yet.
There has already been a bill filed for months aimed at repealing I-90. Legislators would not be wise to go against the will ojf voters. Lawmakers in Massachusetts and Maine, for example, delayed retail sales to much backlash. Ideally, lawmakers will move forward, and legal sales can begin as early as January 2022.