How to Get a Cannabis License in Montana

Discover the step-by-step application process of obtaining a cannabis license in Montana. Learn about the requirements, regulations, and essential considerations to secure your license in this flourishing cannabis industry successfully.

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The cannabis market in Montana is continuously developing, offering a lot of potential for marijuana businesses to grow in the near future. Due to this, many entrepreneurs are attracted to it.

However, securing a cannabis license is mandatory for marijuana business owners who are looking to enter Montana’s cannabis market. The licensing process is lengthy and complex, and you need to be well-prepared to navigate it.

 

Regulatory Landscape Montana Cannabis Licenses:

Montana has just recently started handing out cannabis dispensary licenses, and its rules and regulations are constantly evolving. Through Initiative 190, the state’s voters approved the use and sale of cannabis for adults 21 and above in November 2020.

The Cannabis Control Division (CCD) was formed within the Department of Revenue following the approval of House Bill 701 in the 2021 legislative session.

The Montana Department of Revenue is responsible for accepting applications, reviewing them, and issuing cannabis licenses. Their website is constantly updated with the latest rules that must be followed for an applicant and a licensee.

There are various types of cannabis licenses available in Montana to choose from. These include the following:

  • Cannabis Cultivation License- The holder of this license can grow medical marijuana or recreational marijuana. Although, this license is issued based on a tiered canopy system.
  • Manufacturer License- Get a chance to compound marijuana and make marijuana products ready to be used by the public. The licensee can also package, repackage, label, or relabel according to preference as long as it doesn’t break any rules. The medical marijuana program further allows medical license holders to grow, and process marijuana their own products before selling to registered marijuana consumers.
  • Cannabis Dispensary License- Dispensary owners need this license to sell marijuana products or marijuana flowers to registered cardholders (medical marijuana consumers) and recreational marijuana consumers. However, the license issued does not mention whether the dispensary is for medical or recreational marijuana use. Based on this, if a dispensary has a medical marijuana license, the owner must sell cannabis products to only registered cardholders. Alternatively, if they have an adult-use cannabis dispensary license, they may sell the products to registered cardholders or adult-use consumers.
  • Transporter License- This license allows the licensee to transport marijuana and all marijuana products to all other existing cannabis businesses except adult-use consumers.
  • Marijuana Testing Laboratory License- The licensee can test samples of cannabis and marijuana products to find out their chemical composition and potency, as well as if it’s contaminated.
  • Combined Use License- Only the eight federally recognized tribes in Montana or the companies majorly owned by them are allowed to apply for this license. This license will allow the licensee to have a cultivation site and a dispensary at the same location.

How To Obtain A Cannabis License In Montana?

To obtain a marijuana business license in Montana for any of the above-mentioned purposes, you must follow the basic steps below.

Note: Remember that these steps can vary a little based on the type of cannabis dispensary license you opt for.

Research and Prepare

The first step is to conduct thorough market research and find out which marijuana business license is the best option for you. Then, look into all the specific licensing requirements enlisted by The Montana Department of Revenue on their website for that license.

The official website for The Montana Department of Revenue is updated with the latest information and is the ideal source for your research.

Whether you’re opting for a medical marijuana business or recreational marijuana business license, you should always look at the numbers before finalizing anything. This includes having an in-depth knowledge of the adult-use sales/medical sales in the vicinity you’ve chosen, along with the local laws regarding compliance and taxation.

Look into the eligibility criteria for a marijuana business license in Montana. This may include residency requirements and background checks. Also, remember to thoroughly read the Montana Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act and related administrative rules before applying.

Put in the time and effort to fill out the application and gather the documents you need. It is also important to understand the time it will take for your application to be processed and accepted and the procedures that will follow after the submission of your application.

Look into the cost of the application and how much you will have to pay for the type of license you want. The application process is exhausting, so ensure you’re aware of the zoning regulations, city limits, licensing fees, and all other imperative legal considerations before starting out your initial application.

Develop a Solid Business Plan

After you are done with your research and know that you are eligible for a marijuana business license in Montana, move towards making a solid business plan. This plan will help you in the licensing process and is mandatory for your business if you want to succeed.

Here are some key points you should ensure are a part of your business plan.

  • Your brand and company’s description, as well as its mission
  • Operating Agreement
  • Organizational structure
  • Analysis of other similar small businesses or marijuana businesses in the area and their success ratio
  • Understanding the target audience
  • Financial projections
  • Financial sources, plan to reach breakeven and budget
  • Security plans
  • Management of the team
  • Quality control measures
  • Risk management strategies

Developing a business plan that meets the requirements of The Montana Department of Revenue can be a difficult task. Feel free to seek professional assistance or consulting services specializing in the cannabis industry.

Assemble the Necessary Documentation

Here is a checklist you can follow when assembling the documents for your application.

  • Proof that you are a Montana resident and if you are applying for a license with a business that has 5% or greater than that financial interest, you need to have residency documents showing you have been a Montana resident for a minimum of 1 year.
  • Documents showing date of birth.
  • Give consent to the submission of fingerprints.
  • Documents proving that you own the property. If the property belongs to someone else, you must provide documents proving that the owner is okay with conducting your marijuana business there.
  • business organization chart shows the business ownership structure, which includes controlling beneficial owners, passive beneficial owners, financial interest holders, and employees, is in compliance with state regulations.
  • Documentation showing business structure form.
  • Provide documents showing the source of funding.
  • Documentation showing that you have passed the building inspection.
  • Documentation proving that a fire inspection has been conducted.
  • Documents proving that the city and/or county has given permission.
  • Any additional documents required for licensees applying through social equity programs.

Submitting the Application

After assembling all the required documents, you may proceed to fill out the application and submit It.

To begin the application, you must have an account on the TransAction Portal. After logging in or creating an account, scroll down until you find the Cannabis Control icon, where you will select Apply for or Manage a Marijuana Businesses License.

Three marijuana business licensing options will pop up, and you must choose according to your business requirements.

You will then be directed to the application page, where you will have to fill out several details. Some of these are your first and last name, date of birth, location’s address, and funding sources.

The application is long and time-consuming. But you can take your time and fill it at your own pace. Ensure that you save the changes every time you edit the application to continue from where you left off the next time.

Once you have completed your medical/recreational cannabis licensing application, attach the necessary documents. Then, pay the application fee and submit it.

To submit your application and begin the next step, you must pay 20% of the license fee. This amount is non-refundable and varies according to the license you have applied for.

The license fee for cultivation and manufacturing licenses is $1000 each. On the other hand, the fee for an adult-use dispensary license is $5000

Application Review and Compliance Inspection

Finally, submit your application and wait for a few weeks before you get your hands on the license. This is because The Montana Department of Revenue has to review your application and inspect for compliance.

During the application review process, the department will contact you via email if they have any queries or requests for any additional information. The Montana Department of Revenue has clearly stated that they only communicate via email, but if you have any other preference, you must call them and ask them to do so.

Remember that you should always be available for communication and promptly reply to the department’s emails so that your application gets approved.

The authorities will also confirm whether everything stated in the application is true and if your business and location are compliant with all the rules. They will visit the proposed marijuana businesses’ locations and inspect it to ensure it is up to the mark.

Keeping an open line of communication, following all the rules, and ensuring that your facility complies with all the requirements are the keys to getting your application approved.

Remaining Compliant with Montana Regulations

Even after getting your Montana cannabis license, keep checking the website for The Montana Department of Revenue and reading the Montana Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act every now and then for updates.

Remember that ongoing compliance is mandatory for the success of your cannabis business and that the department holds the power to cancel your license at any time due to non-compliance.

Fulfill all the compliance regulations such as record-keeping, product testing, employee training, and security measures. Conduct internal audits regularly, keep accurate records, and submit any report required by the department on time. You can also get insurance to help you out.

Establish robust compliance procedures and systems that ensure you follow the guidelines required. If there is any major change in the business, inform the authorities to show your cooperation.

Conclusion

To successfully acquire a cannabis license and run an adult-use dispensary in Montana, you must fulfill all the requirements and adhere to the rules and regulations enlisted by The Montana Department of Revenue.

Follow the steps mentioned in this guide, take your time, and seek professional help when needed to maximize your chances of obtaining a Montana cannabis license.