2020-21 Improvements and Recommendations

Montana voters chose to pass a ballot initiative in the 2020 election which would legalize cannabis possession for all adults over 21. Governor Gianforte signed HB 701 into law in May 2021, the bill set the rules and regulations for the state’s retail market set to open at the beginning of 2022. The new retail market will rely on existing medical producers until new licenses are issued. Montana was extremely conservative in granting production licenses to medical operators; dispensaries already report product shortages in just serving the medical market. When the recreational consumers hit the stores, patients can expect to be competing with them directly for medicine.

In 2022, ASA recommends that Montana legislators expand the protections provided under the law for patients. There must be explicit language in state law to keep employers from wrongfully discriminating against medical cannabis patients. Patients should not face discriminatory roadside sobriety testing. Being a medical cannabis patient should not be grounds for the denial of housing or eviction so Montana legislators must codify language that prevents landlords from doing so. Finally, parental rights of any kind should not be denied based on a person’s status as a patient, so state legislators must create specific legal language to protect them.