**Why it matters:**
A judge in Montana has temporarily blocked the enforcement of new fees for marijuana dispensary licenses while a lawsuit challenging the fee structure is being heard. The fees, which increase for each additional dispensary license, were established by the state’s Cannabis Control Division under a law passed earlier this year. The businesses that brought the suit argue that the new licensing fees would force them to close several dispensary locations, resulting in job losses and reduced access to medical marijuana.
**What they are saying:**
The businesses bringing the legal action argue that the new fees would require them to cease operations and would jeopardize their licensure and ability to honor their leasehold interests. The fees would also result in job losses and negatively impact medical marijuana patients. Attorneys for the state argue that the fees are necessary to adequately regulate the marijuana industry in the fourth-largest state by landmass.
**The big picture:**
The case revolves around the legality of the new fee structure and whether it exceeds the costs of regulating the cannabis industry. The plaintiffs also challenge the addition of the fees to the legislation without public comment. The outcome of this case will have implications for the regulation and cost of operating marijuana dispensaries in Montana.
**What to watch:**
Parties on both sides of the case are currently negotiating and hoping to reach a settlement within the next 60 days. It remains to be seen whether a resolution can be reached or if the case will proceed to trial. Additionally, it will be interesting to see how the court ultimately rules on the legality of the new fee structure and the extent to which the state is justified in imposing higher fees for multiple dispensary licenses.
The temporary block on the enforcement of the new fees is a positive development for the cannabis businesses involved in this case. The steep fee increases would have had significant financial implications for the dispensaries and potentially led to closures and layoffs. It is crucial for the court to carefully consider whether the new fee structure aligns with the state’s regulations and if the fees truly reflect the costs of regulating the industry. The outcome of this case could set a precedent for future fee structures for marijuana businesses in Montana.