“This initiative passed with margins that people like me can only dream about,” House Minority Leader Kim Abbott, D-Helena, said in a press briefing Thursday. “Public lands and recreational marijuana are more popular than most of us in this building. So we still want to fight for the intention of voters on where the money goes and the policy. Republicans don’t seem interested in that.”
The bill draft’s regulatory framework has also raised questions from the medical marijuana community, with constraints on everything from labeling to where cannabis can be grown.
Kate Cholewa, government affairs representative for the Montana Cannabis Industry Association, said, while the bill itself is still only a draft, certain provisions in the proposal bear some “oppositional dynamics.”
“Of course we’re legalizing it, everyone can do this now, yet still throughout the bill we’re still imposing stigma,” Cholewa said.
The proposal allows a wholesale market, meaning providers can buy product from other companies and sell it on their shelves. But the labeling is allowed to have simple black-and-white lettering for the product name, essentially prohibiting anything unique to the company that produced the product.
Employees, too, will be subject to background checks along with approval by the Montana Department of Revenue, which will oversee the recreational marijuana program, although its not clear from the draft what could disqualify those employees, Cholewa said.