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Montana Lawmakers Hear Testimony On Third Recreational Marijuana Policy Proposal

Screengrab of an MPAN stream of Mike Hopkins speaking into a microphone.
Montana Public Affairs Network
Montana Republican Rep. Mike Hopkins introduces House Bill 701 during a House Business and Labor Committee meeting on March 31, 2021.

More than 30 people testified during a marathon hearing over one of three bills Montana lawmakers are workshopping to stand up the state’s forthcoming recreational marijuana program.

Most speakers opposed House Bill 701 during its first hearing, which ran for three hours Wednesday. Opponents and supporters clashed over whether the bill is too permissive or too restrictive to the marijuana industry.

Bill sponsor and Missoula Republican Rep. Mike Hopkins said there will inherently be different rules between the recreational program and the state’s current medical marijuana program.

“We’re going to prepare a comprehensive, safe, responsible, controlled system for the implementation of this program here in the state of Montana," Hopkins said.

Representatives for substance abuse and anti-marijuana groups asked lawmakers to lower the potency ceiling for recreational cannabis and remove edibles from the program.

Meanwhile, members of the cannabis industry opposed several bill provisions banning outdoor growing and requiring local governments to opt into allowing recreational dispensaries in their area, instead of permitting such businesses by default.

Lawmakers this week have also held hearings on two recreational marijuana regulatory bills from Republican representatives Derek Skees and Brad Tschida.