Updated on August 16, 2019.
In 2004, voters in Montana approved a measure to legalize medical marijuana. Since then, the Big Sky Country’s cannabis program has gone through multiple revisions — the most recent of which is the passing of SB 265, which is slated to go into effect no later than July 1, 2020.
Under the new rules, registered cardholders will no longer be tethered to one individual provider; instead, Montana medical marijuana patients will be able to purchase cannabis from any of the state’s registered dispensaries. Additionally, the new law increases the purchase limit to one ounce of cannabis per day, and no more than five ounces per month.
Below, we’ve summarized the state’s dispensary licensing rules and procedures as they currently stand, and we will update this page as the new laws come into effect.
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The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) is responsible for licensing medical marijuana providers and dispensaries.
In order to obtain a medical marijuana dispensary license in Montana, you must first successfully apply for a provider license. If you intend to manufacture and sell marijuana-infused products, you must apply for a chemical manufacturing endorsement, which is also referred to as a marijuana-infused product provider (MIPP) license.
Once you’ve obtained your provider/MIPP license, you’ll be eligible to apply for a medical marijuana dispensary business license through the DPHHS website.
Providers applying for a license before July 1, 2020, must have resided in Montana for three years, unless the provider was named by a registered cardholder by June 30, 2017.
After July 1, 2020, providers must have resided in Montana for one year before applying for a license.
The fee for a medical marijuana provider license depends on the number of registered cardholders that have listed you as their official provider:
The fee for a chemical manufacturing endorsement (that is, the MIPP license) is $500; you may apply for your provider license and your MIPP at the same time.
The fee for a dispensary license is $500 — however, you may apply for one dispensary license at the same location as your provider/MIPP license at no charge.
Yes. One person may only hold one provider/MIPP license. However, you may apply for multiple dispensary licenses.
Learn how to remain compliant with Montana's cannabis retail laws.
Montana residents who possess a valid medical marijuana registry identification card may purchase cannabis from their listed provider/dispensary.
Under Montana law, a registered medical marijuana cardholder may possess up to one ounce of marijuana flower or its equivalent (eight grams of marijuana concentrate, 800 mg. of THC in infused products/edibles, 16 .5-ml. vape cartridges or eight 1-ml. vape cartridges, or any combination thereof).
Montana dispensaries may not be located within a zone of a city, town, or county where activity related to medical marijuana use is prohibited. Additionally, dispensaries may not be located within 500 feet of any church, synagogue, or other place of worship, or of a school or post-secondary school.
Licensed providers and dispensaries are prohibited from advertising marijuana or marijuana-related products in any medium, including electronic media.
Before selling marijuana flower or other products, providers who hold a dispensary license must verify the validity of the customer’s registry identification card. Additionally, marijuana products must be tested by an approved laboratory or the department of agriculture to ensure product safety and consumer protection.
Licensed providers/dispensaries are required to track all inventory, transfers, and sales in the official state seed-to-sale tracking system.
Metrc provides statewide marijuana seed-to-sale tracking and reporting in Montana.
Yes. Cova’s marijuana retail point of sale and inventory management system includes all the features needed to keep Montana providers compliant, including:
First, no advertisements for anything cannabis-related can be attractive to minors (no cartoon characters or public figures appealing to a younger age group) or promote underage or out-of-state consumption. Second, no product can claim any therapeutic or curative effects. Lastly, any cannabis advertisement must include the following government warnings:
"This product has intoxicating effects and may be habit forming.";
"Marijuana can impair concentration, coordination, and judgment. Do not operate a vehicle or machinery under the influence of this drug.";
"There may be health risks associated with consumption of this product."; and
"For use only by adults twenty-one and older. Keep out of the reach of children.”
Each licensed retail location can have two signs at their location with their business name or trade name. These signs cannot be larger than 1,600 square feet (measured from the outer frame). No signs can be on the road pointing in the direction of the dispensary, they can only be affixed or hanging from the building or windows of the actual storefront.
The signs can include the business name, location and identify the nature of the business. It cannot have any photos or depictions of cannabis and it cannot be appealing to minors.
A cannabis dispensary can advertise on billboards with some restrictions. First, the billboard can only contain the same information as signage on the storefront (i.e., name of business, address and nature of business). It cannot contain any photos or depictions of the cannabis plant (this includes any logo with a cannabis leaf) or appeal to minors. No matter the design, the billboard must say that cannabis can only be purchased and possessed by adults over 21 years old.
No, dispensaries cannot give away any product or coupons. They can, however, encourage customers to sign up for an email or text list and offer specials that way.
No, a dispensary is only allowed to sell legal cannabis products and paraphernalia. But branded merchandise for a dispensary can be sold on their website or through a separate entity.
Yes, a dispensary is allowed to advertise in print publications, but with a few restrictions. The publication cannot target or distribute to an audience out of state or underage. And the content of the advertisement must follow the same rules as billboards and signage (no cannabis depictions or photos, cartoon characters or anything appealing to minors and must include government warnings). Local jurisdictions are able to establish additional advertising rules, so always check for relevant local laws.
A retail cannabis business can have a website, but it cannot appeal to or solicit anyone under the age of 21. You can sell branded non-cannabis merchandise on your website, but all cannabis products must be purchased in store.
Yes, a dispensary can host or sponsor an event, but only if attendees are over 21 years old. They cannot have product on hand, neither as a free gift or sold.
Rules and regulations regarding advertising for Washington cannabis companies are constantly changing. You can view the WSLCB’s Q&A on advertising here.
Cova POS software provides complete seed-to-sale tracking functionality and has a number of built-in features designed to help you automatically comply with the legal regulations in your state/province. For example, the Cova POS system automatically monitors:
To ensure that you always maintain an expedient transaction pace and keep lines moving, Cova comes with a built-in offline sales processing mode that enables continuous access to critical functions even when your Wi-Fi or internet connection is unavailable. Once connectivity is restored, all transactions performed in offline mode are synchronized with the state’s reporting system, data is backed up, and reports and inventory records are adjusted accordingly.
By choosing a POS system with built-in tax reporting functionality, you’ll always know exactly how much tax you need to pay.
There are several reasons why a cannabis-specific POS is ideal for your operation—but the most important one is compliance management. Because traditional retail operations and pharmacies don’t have the same government-mandated compliance requirements, their POS systems aren’t built to manage the complexities involved with track and trace reporting and the other aspects of state compliance.
With the industry still in its infancy, regulations are bound to change. At Cova, our team keeps up with industry-wide and state-specific changes so that our developers can quickly made necessary software updates—and so you never have to worry about remaining compliant with the latest regulations.
Absolutely! Cova software is built on technology that has the ability to dynamically scale with your needs. Microsoft’s Cloud Computing Platform, Azure, automatically detects instances of heavy traffic (such as sales on 4/20) and assigns further servers and computing power as necessary to compensate—allowing you to process sales without interruption, even during the busiest retail periods.
Although technically you are not mandated to comply with the new law and regulations until July, it’s a good idea to implement a compliant POS now so you don’t have to switch later.
With Cova, you can easily stay compliant with California’s inventory reconciliation requirement by printing the Inventory-on-hand report and checking it against your physical inventory. You can make any necessary adjustments directly into the POS, which will then sync the data across your network.
Cannabis Business Lawyer & Founding Partner, Segev LLP
Ron Segev is the founding partner of Segev LLP. A practical-minded business lawyer with expertise in the cannabis industry, he represents cultivators, dispensaries, CBD extractors, oil extractors, food processors, media and marketing companies, consultancies, and other businesses in the legal cannabis market.