HELENA — After months of preparation and planning, leisure marijuana gross sales in Montana are beginning Saturday morning. For the Hashish Management Division on the Montana Division of Income, there’s now one huge query left to reply: Are they prepared?
“We’re prepared,” mentioned Kristan Barbour, the division’s administrator.
Home Invoice 701, the primary marijuana invoice lawmakers handed throughout the 2021 legislative session, pushed the primary day for gross sales again from Oct. 1, 2021, to Jan. 1, 2022. Barbour mentioned DOR would spend Friday – the final full day earlier than the launch – implementing new licensing and tax methods and ensuring marijuana suppliers’ methods on the level of sale are functioning accurately.
“There’s nothing at this level that might stop it from taking place – wanting possibly an influence outage the place these methods simply are down, and we do have protocols in place to permit for, if an influence grid goes out, how these companies can pivot and make gross sales and monitor that knowledge individually,” she mentioned. “We really feel like we’ve tried to essentially deal with something that might doubtlessly occur, wanting the belongings you simply can’t guess.”
Beginning Saturday, dispensaries that had been licensed previous to Nov. 3, 2020, can start promoting marijuana to leisure prospects over the age of 21, in addition to licensed medical prospects – so long as they’re in a county that permits adult-use gross sales. The tax fee will stay 4% for medical marijuana gross sales and might be 20% for leisure gross sales.
Barbour estimates about 380 dispensaries across the state might be eligible to begin promoting to adult-use prospects Saturday, and so they count on virtually all of them to take action. She mentioned the division is assured the system can deal with no matter quantity of gross sales they see.
One of many closing items of the puzzle got here into place final week, when DOR finalized the preliminary units of guidelines for the leisure marijuana system.
“I’d say we did get the entire important parts of Home Invoice 701 stood up in time underneath our guidelines for Jan. 1,” mentioned Barbour. “We do know now we have some necessary gadgets that we have to deal with going into the primary a part of 2022. I feel a very powerful a part of that might be our packaging and labeling requirements.”
Barbour says, for now, they’ll enable dispensaries to observe both the present labeling necessities for medical marijuana or the brand new insurance policies set out in HB 701, till they’ve time to completely transition.
The division made a number of adjustments to the foundations in response to public remark – notably eradicating a provision that might have banned the sale of CBD merchandise in dispensaries and one other that advocates anxious may preserve folks with minor prison convictions from working within the business. Additionally they addressed some considerations from state lawmakers, together with taking out a proposed rule that might have allowed some outside marijuana growers to extend their cultivation house.
Barbour mentioned DOR might be monitoring for potential violations as soon as leisure gross sales start.
“Ensuring that individuals are promoting an oz. or much less, we’re going to be actually keeping track of that,” she mentioned. “Ensuring that they’re working throughout the hours of 9 A-M to eight P-M each day – actually type of anticipating these baselines and something that appears prefer it’s exterior of that can definitely pique our curiosity to the place we’ll do an extra investigation.”
Nonetheless, she mentioned she’s optimistic there received’t be many egregious points.
“From what we’re listening to from the business and from what we’ve seen, everybody desires to do that properly – they need to achieve success at this,” she mentioned. “That is their alternative to essentially present that these are reliable companies who’re following the legislation. So our concern just isn’t whether or not they’re going to behave out, it’s actually simply ensuring that they know that we’re checking and that we’re holding individuals who aren’t going to observe the legislation accountable.”
Barbour mentioned the division ought to have a primary thought of the amount of marijuana gross sales pretty shortly, however they received’t speculate instantly on how a lot of that might be leisure gross sales or how a lot it should translate to in tax revenues. Taxes might be due quarterly, so the primary info on revenues will doubtless be accessible in April.