SAM’s “Turn a Lemon into Lemonade” approach prevails; New law bans advertising, limits pot shops, and caps THC levels.
(Helena, MT) Today, in a major state victory for Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed HB 701, a bill outlining the regulations for marijuana commercialization, into law.
SAFE Montana & SAM were both intimately involved in the framing of this bill and see its passage as a great start to reining in the influence of the marijuana industry and preempting its addiction-for-profit marketing and lobbying schemes.
Notably, the bill includes three major provisions that were championed by SAM, SAFE Montana, and other groups seeking to limit the unchecked power of Big Marijuana:
- Commercialization will not be automatic across the state. In the 28 counties that voted against legalization, marijuana industry activity will not be allowed without a vote by the people of the county to opt-in to legalization. Vice versa, a county where the ballot measure was approved can also hold a vote to opt-out of legalization. This added measure of local control is one of the most effective ways of pushing back on the marijuana industry.
- A significant body of research links marijuana advertising to increases in marijuana use and normalization of the substance among young people. As such, there will be no marijuana industry advertising of any kind allowed under the provisions of this regulatory framework save for limited business signage on marijuana storefronts.
- The preponderance of available data show that the use of high potency marijuana is significantly linked to the potential development of severe mental health issues such as psychosis, anxiety, depression, and even suicide. In an effort to limit this serious harm, THC levels in marijuana flower will be capped at 35% THC.
“We are thankful for the dedicated work of our affiliate, SAFE Montana, and to the lawmakers who came to us seeking advice on the drafting of the regulatory framework for Montana’s marijuana industry,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of SAM and a former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration. “We are confident that this outline of regulations is a good starting point and we look forward to continuing to work with the Department of Revenue and the Economic Affairs Committee to push for further restrictions on THC levels and other regulations that will ensure public health and safety are kept at the forefront.”
“While dark money and lies were used to swindle voters into opening our doors to Big Pot, we are proud to see the legislature implement strict regulations on the industry that will limit the power of the pot lobby in our state,” said Stephen Zabawa, Executive Director of SAFE Montana. “Even as we celebrate these limits, we must acknowledge that this fight is not over. Constant vigilance is necessary when it comes to the addiction industry. We will continually work to keep Montanans safe, productive, and healthy by keeping this industry tightly regulated.”