Montana Cannabis Providers Adapt To New Rules

As of April 10th, all of Montana’s medical cannabis providers (marijuana growers or cannabis product producers) had to be using the state’s seed-to-sale tracking system. The need for this system was established as a part of SB 333, which passed in April 2017. Montana’s Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) oversees the state’s medical marijuana program, and they opted to use the Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Regulation and Compliance system (Metrc).

Metrc is a product of Franwell, a Florida-based company that also licenses its system to medical cannabis programs in Alaska, Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, and Oregon. In addition to product tracking, the system provides online licensing and auditing for providers and distributors. The DPHHS estimated that they spent $600,000 for the tracking system and $250,000 for the licensing system. The agency expects that the medical marijuana program will generate $1.8 million a year, so the system costs will be more than covered.

According to DPHHS spokesman Jon Ebelt, Metrc is easy to use and his agency hasn’t received any reports of usability or site problems from providers.

In addition to product tracking, Montana’s new rules require cannabis providers to more stringently label and test their products. The testing is partly aimed at protecting patients by ensuring that the THC and CBD levels on cannabis products are what they’re supposed to be. Providers also have to test their products for contaminants such as pesticides and solvents. However, the DPHHS has issued a 20-day grace period on pesticide testing because of the complexities and expense involved. Further, very small growers who provide cannabis to fewer than 10 patients have until 2020 to implement product testing.

Other rules are still being written or re-written by Montana lawmakers. For instance, there has been much debate about how much marijuana a provider can grow; currently, they can have a canopy of 50 square feet of marijuana plants for each cardholder they supply. A more recent change in the law allows patients to consume cannabis products at dispensaries, but so far the state’s dispensaries have not attempted to open new lounges for smoking or vaping.


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