Earlier this year, the governor of Montana signed House Bill 701 into law, setting the stage for Montana to launch a recreational cannabis market in January 2022. Sponsored by Republican Representative Mike Hopkins, the legislation allowed the sale of adult-use cannabis in counties that had voted in favor of the legalization initiative to adults 21 and older and charged the state Department of Revenue with developing administrative rules and issuing recreational cannabis business licenses. However, two proposed rules by the department drew the ire of industry stakeholders who claimed that the rules were not correct interpretations of the legalization bill.
Officials from the Department of Revenue have informed the Revenue Interim Committee that they have listened to several comments from individuals who are unsatisfied with the proposed rules. According to Cannabis Control Division attorney Courtney Cosgrove, the revenue department is now working to align the proposed rules with the recreational cannabis framework that was signed into law in May. But with the recreational market set to begin sales on Jan. 1, 2022, the department has a tight window to make the necessary changes.
According to Cosgrove, members of the committee meet once a week to every two weeks to discuss the proposed rules for Montana’s forthcoming recreational cannabis market. One of the rules that raised eyebrows was a proposed ban on the sale of CBD (cannabidiol) products in marijuana dispensaries. House Bill 701 requires that legal industrial hemp have less than 0.3% THC, the main chemical agent responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive effects. The state’s revenue department assumed that this ban also extended to CBD, which isn’t psychoactive.
Senate Minority leader Jill Cohenour argued that the ban wasn’t in line with the cannabis legislation’s provisions. She was part of a bipartisan working group that carried the bill through the Senate, and she says that lawmakers have also heard complaints about the proposed ban on CBD products. With demand for cannabidiol-infused products at an all-time high, the CBD market is projected to be worth $19.5 billion by 2025. Unsurprisingly, plenty of producers were preparing to cash in on the lucrative CBD market before the proposed CBD ban sent them into a panic.
The other contentious rule would have given the state revenue department the ability to revoke or suspend a cannabis worker who had been convicted of any crime or a cannabis-related crime in another state. This proposed rule was especially controversial because it would essentially punish the people who were already being punished by prohibition and prevent them from getting gainful employment. J.D. Pepper Petersen, a key figure in the 2020 legalization campaign, says the department should empower individuals to obtain any legal work they can, not put up even more barriers to employment.
Such a ban on the sale of CBD products in recreational cannabis ports would be extremely unfair to even far-off dedicated companies such as Simply Sonoma Inc., which manufacture CBD medicinal products that are in compliance with federal law.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Simply Sonoma Inc. are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/Sonoma
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