BILLINGS - Montana's medical marijuana industry continues to evolve with new changes to its rules outlined recently by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.
In the latest changes, the state added mandatory testing again in place of randomized testing. Providers said they liked the revisions, and some called it a "great day for the industry." But others expressed the need for more change.
"It's expensive. Random testing done by an inspection is a much better way to catch pesticides," said Elizabeth Pincolini, owner of Alternative Wellness Montana.
License costs for providers with 11 to 49 patients were lowered to $2,500. Providers with under 11 patients must pay $1,000 while providers over 49 must spend $5,000.
"The revised provider's fees for middle-sized providers is good and helps them stay in business," Pincolini said.
The state health department also outlined new rules for labeling marijuana items to ensure there is no confusion of the product. Among the changes, patients who are minors can now have a provider, but their parents or guardian must make purchases by proxy. Minors cannot smoke their cannabis. Before, a parent or guardian was the grower of cannabis.
"I think overall, the rules are doable for most. I expect some changes and tweaks to the rules as the program rolls out and we find things that need adjustment, but I think that is fairly typical for any new program," said Pincolini. "Testing is still excessive, in my opinion, and expensive and could impact the prices patients pay. But overall, better than what was originally proposed."