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Montana  cannabis consultants


Cannabis Consultant Insights

Applications for cannabis businesses will be open July 1, 2025
Introduction to Montana Cannabis

The Montana cannabis market in 2024 continues to evolve rapidly, driven by robust demand and a dynamic regulatory landscape. Since the legalization of both medical and adult-use cannabis, Montana has developed a comprehensive framework to ensure the industry operates within a structured and compliant environment. The state's regulations are designed to maintain high standards for safety, quality, and transparency, supporting both consumer protection and business integrity.

Montana's cannabis market is characterized by a diverse range of businesses, from cultivators and manufacturers to dispensaries and testing laboratories. Each sector plays a crucial role in the supply chain, contributing to a vibrant and competitive marketplace. The regulatory framework, managed by the Montana Department of Revenue, ensures that all cannabis operations adhere to stringent guidelines, fostering a safe and fair industry.

Businesses must navigate a detailed application and renewal process through the TransAction Portal (TAP), with licenses granted on an annual basis. The state emphasizes thorough inspections and compliance checks, ensuring that every aspect of the cannabis operation, from cultivation to sale, meets regulatory standards. This meticulous approach helps maintain the integrity of Montana's cannabis industry, promoting responsible growth and innovation.

As the market matures, businesses in Montana are increasingly focusing on operational excellence, customer experience, and sustainable practices. The state's regulatory environment continues to adapt, reflecting the evolving needs of the industry and its stakeholders. For businesses looking to enter or expand within Montana's cannabis market, understanding and adhering to these regulations is paramount to achieving long-term success.

Medical Cannabis

Montana has had a legal medical marijuana program since 2004, following the approval of Initiative I-148. Initially restrictive, the program saw significant changes in 2016 that made access easier for patients. These changes include:

  • Expanded Qualifying Conditions: The list of medical conditions eligible for treatment with cannabis was broadened.

  • Increased Patient Rights: Patients gained more autonomy in selecting caregivers and obtaining their medicine.

  • Operational Clarity: Clearer guidelines for cultivation, distribution, and use were established.

Adult Use Cannabis

As of January 1, 2021, adults 21 and over may possess and use up to one ounce of marijuana with no criminal penalties:

  • Taxation: A 20% tax on non-medical marijuana sales generates significant revenue for public services.

  • Regulation: Establishment of a regulated marketplace ensuring product safety and quality standards.

Possession Limits

These provisions ensure that personal use remains within reasonable limits while allowing individuals some degree of self-sufficiency.

  • Adults can possess up to one ounce of marijuana.

  • Up to 8 grams can be in concentrated form.

  • Individuals can cultivate up to four plants and four seedlings for personal use.


  • Adult-use marijuana will be taxed at 20% of retail sales.

  • Medical marijuana will continue to be taxed at 4% of retail sales.

  • Local jurisdictions may add an additional tax of up to 3%.

Cannabis Business License Types in Montana
The distinct license types ensure that businesses operate within clear boundaries while fostering specialization within the industry.
Cultivator Licenses

Cultivation licenses in Montana allow a licensee to cultivate marijuana for either medical or adult use. These licenses are issued according to a tiered canopy system, allowing for increasing amounts of cultivation space.

What Cultivator Licenses Entail and Allow:

  • Cultivation of marijuana plants for medical or adult use.

  • Expansion of cultivation space based on tiered canopy system.

  • Compliance with state regulations on plant count and canopy size.

  • Implementation of security measures to protect cultivation site.

  • Maintenance of detailed records for seed-to-sale tracking.


Manufacturer Licenses

A manufacturing license in Montana permits a licensee to convert or compound marijuana into marijuana products, marijuana concentrates, or marijuana extracts. It also allows for the packaging, repackaging, labeling, or relabeling of marijuana products.

What Manufacturer Licenses Entail and Allow:

  • Production of marijuana-infused products, concentrates, and extracts.

  • Use of various extraction methods and equipment.

  • Packaging and labeling of marijuana products in accordance with state regulations.

  • Compliance with health and safety standards for manufacturing facilities.

  • Record-keeping and reporting as required by state law.

Dispensary Licenses

Dispensaries in Montana are locations where marijuana can be sold to registered cardholders and/or adult-use consumers. These licenses are categorized as either medical-only or adult-use.

What Dispensary Licenses Entail and Allow:

  • Medical-only dispensaries:

    • Sale of marijuana and marijuana products exclusively to registered cardholders.

  • Adult-use dispensaries:

    • Sale of marijuana and marijuana products to both registered cardholders and adult-use consumers.

  • Implementation of security measures to protect dispensary premises.

  • Maintenance of inventory and transaction records in compliance with state regulations.

  • Compliance with advertising and marketing restrictions set by the state.

Transporter Licenses

The Marijuana Transporter license in Montana, created by House Bill 701 in 2021, allows a business to transport marijuana and marijuana products between licensed marijuana business premises, including testing laboratories, or to medical registered cardholders. Transporters may not deliver to adult-use consumers.

What Transporter Licenses Entail and Allow:

  • Transportation of marijuana and marijuana products between licensed premises.

  • Delivery of marijuana and marijuana products to medical registered cardholders.

  • Compliance with state regulations on transportation security and documentation.

  • Maintenance of transport logs and records.

  • Prohibition on delivery to adult-use consumers.

Testing Lab Licenses

A marijuana testing laboratory license in Montana permits a laboratory to test representative samples of marijuana and marijuana products. The lab provides information on the chemical composition and potency of samples, as well as the presence of molds, pesticides, or other contaminants.

What Testing Lab Licenses Entail and Allow:

  • Testing of marijuana and marijuana products for chemical composition and potency.

  • Detection of contaminants such as molds and pesticides.

  • Compliance with state standards for laboratory testing procedures.

  • Reporting of test results to relevant parties.

  • Maintenance of detailed testing records.

Combined-Use Licenses

Combined-use licenses in Montana are special licenses created specifically for the state’s eight federally recognized tribes and/or entities majority-owned by one of those tribes. These licenses consist of a cultivation and dispensary located at the same premises.

What Combined-Use Licenses Entail and Allow:

  • Cultivation of marijuana plants for both medical and adult use at the same premises.

  • Operation of a dispensary for the sale of marijuana and marijuana products.

  • Integration of cultivation and retail operations for efficiency.

  • Compliance with state regulations for both cultivation and dispensary operations.

  • Security measures to protect the combined-use premises.


Cannabis Business License Applications in Montana

In Montana, all cannabis business applications must be submitted through the TransAction Portal (TAP). Businesses have the flexibility to apply for and hold any combination of licenses, which are granted for one-year periods and must be renewed annually. Renewal applications become available 75 days before expiration and must be submitted at least 60 days in advance to allow for the necessary inspection and processing. Extensions for renewals are not granted.

Each proposed business location requires its own approval process. While each business type receives only one license, multiple sites can be associated with it. For example, a business may hold a single dispensary license but operate multiple dispensary locations. However, every location must be individually applied for, inspected, and approved before commencing operations.

Applications require a non-refundable processing fee of 20% of the total license fee. Regardless of the application's outcome, this fee is retained. Upon approval, the remaining 80% of the license fee must be paid. To avoid the risk of losing the non-refundable processing fee, it is strongly recommended that all required documentation is gathered before submitting the application.

Basic Requirements

These requirements underscore the state's commitment to ensuring responsible business practices within the cannabis sector.
  • Age: Applicants must be over 21 years old.

  • Proof of Funds: Not specified yet but likely required.

  • Background Check: Mandatory.

  • Residency: Proof of residency required.

  • Business Experience: Preferred but not mandatory.

Application Components

These components provide a comprehensive overview of how applicants plan to run their operations safely and efficiently.

Operating Plans:

  • Security measures

  • Inventory control systems

  • Employee training programs

Financial Plans:

  • Detailed budget projections

  • Funding sources validation

Required Forms:

  • Personal documents (ID proof)

  • Business location information

  • Business Structure Form

  • Business Organization form

  • Building inspector report

  • fire inspector report

Zoning Requirements:

  • Proof of compliance with local zoning laws

  • Specific property distance requirements from schools and other sensitive areas

  • Control over property prior to applying with permission from property owner

License Ownership

This approach prevents monopolistic practices while encouraging diversity within the market.The state considers these licenses as privileges rather than rights:

  • Restrictions may apply on the number of licenses one entity can hold or invest in.

  • Potential overlap allowed between different types of licenses if owned by the same individual or entity (e.g., a provider can also be an infused products provider).

Social Equity in Montana Cannabis Businesses

Currently, there appears to be no social equity program within Montana’s cannabis regulations. This is notable given Montana's high arrest rates for drug possession among Black individuals. The absence of such a program may affect social dynamics within the industry by perpetuating existing disparities.

Business Competition

Businesses poised to enter this market must strategically position themselves to capitalize on these opportunities while navigating competitive pressures. The market potential for recreational cannabis in Montana is substantial due to several factors:

  • Existing medical marijuana infrastructure provides a head start.

  • High tourism rates could boost sales significantly.

  • Limited number of initial licenses could result in heightened competition among businesses seeking entry into this new market.

SWOT Analysis of Montana as a Cannabis Market

Understanding these factors enables stakeholders to better navigate this evolving landscape while anticipating challenges that may arise.


  • Established medical cannabis framework provides groundwork for expansion into recreational use.

  • Strong tourism sector adds potential customer base beyond residents.



  • Lack of social equity programs may lead to public criticism and regulatory challenges.

  • Stringent licensing viewed as privilege could deter small businesses.

  • Residency requirement



  • Untapped recreational market with high revenue potential upon legalization.

  • Ability to cultivate both local consumer base and tourist market.

  • Ability for vertical integration



  • Potential opposition from local government units affecting dispensary operations through zoning laws.

  • High competition among early entrants vying for limited licenses.


Seeking Support from Industry Professionals: Role of Cann Strategy as Your Cannabis Business Consulting Firm

Navigating the complexities of setting up a cannabis business requires experience, time, and strategic planning. Cann Strategy is here to streamline your journey from obtaining your license to establishing successful operations. Our tailored services cover every aspect from compliance to business development ensuring your venture not only meets regulatory standards but also thrives competitively.



Book a free call with one of our consultants.

Contact us to discuss Montana cannabis business consulting services.

Book a free call with one of our consultants.

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