The House of the state of Montana, on April 15, passed Senate Bill 265, which aims at making a number of changes to the present medical marijuana program.
The reforms include a temporary tax increase, the ‘untethering’ of patients and legalization of medical marijuana certifications by phone.
Wondering what an ‘untethering’ clause is? Well, untethering may make the biggest difference in the lives of patients enrolled under Montana’s medical marijuana program. It will basically allow patients to buy their medicines from any cannabis provider, revoking the previous practice of being ‘tethered’ to a single provider.
However, every bill has its pros and cons and so does this one. Under the new bill, patients will not be able to buy more than 5 ounces of cannabis a month and over 1 ounce a day.
“This is completely new to Montana; we’ve not really done things to this extent in the past,” Senator Tom Jacobson, the bill’s sponsor, told a local news site. “We knew there would be some changes that have to come about.”
The reform legalizing medical marijuana certifications by phone should come as a boon for a number of patients living in the remote areas of the state.
SB 265, which passed the Senate in early April by a 36-14 vote, and on April 15 in the House by a huge 68-32, has doubled the tax imposed on distributors to 4%.
Notably, this is not the first makeover that Montana medical marijuana program has undergone in recent years. In 2017, SB 333 had imposed a quarterly tax on cannabis businesses which resulted in a collection of $1.8 million off of $45 million of medical marijuana taxes.
“Ultimately, we see medical marijuana as medicine. And so it is the state’s duty to provide a regulatory framework that assures cancer patients and other types of patients that their medicine is safe and effective,” Representative Zach Brown said upon the passage of SB 265.
A recent poll conducted by the University of Montana found that 51% of residents feel that recreational marijuana should now be legalized in the state.