Businesses that had hoped to expand into the recreational marijuana business will have to wait another two years before being able to enter the lucrative trade in Montana.

That means people who had wanted to apply for a license will have to wait until 2025 before taking advantage of the legalization that was approved in 2020.

Montana voters had approved recreational marijuana sales in November of that year, a move that allowed not only "adult use" of marijuana from recreational sales, but also for production and sales. That's allowed the business to boom, with dispensaries expanding in the state's larger cities and even smaller towns. Those laws took effect in January. 2021.

However, the state had imposed a moratorium on the number of applicants that could apply for a license for the recreational pot business, limiting applications to dispensaries that were already in the medical marijuana business before November 3, 2020. The stipulation said those businesses already had to be operating, or have a pending application, and had to be in "good standing" with the Department of Public Health and Human Services.

During the recently completed sessions, lawmakers had tried all kinds of tweaks and adjustments to the rules. But one that cleared the Legislature was House Bill 128. Now Governor Greg Gianforte has signed that into law. Instead of the moratorium expiring on July 1st, it will now stay in effect until July 1, 2025.

The measure does lessen restrictions for Montana's tribal businesses that would like to be a part of the program.

And Gianforte has also signed House Bill 903, which makes a significant hike in the price of licenses for providers operating more than one dispensary. Where that fee had been $5000, now a business with multiple operations will have to pay $5000 for the first operation, $10,000 for a second, and then $5000 for each dispensary beyond the first two.

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