On Election Day in 2020, Montana residents voted to legalize the adult consumption of marijuana, and create a government-regulated system for the production and sale of all cannabis products. As laws implementing these policy changes are put into place, cannabis growers, sellers, manufacturers, investors, and users will need to navigate a complex regulatory landscape. One slip-up could lead to fines, criminal charges, or the loss of a license required to do business in this industry.
Attorney Michael R. Hughes, who has been at the forefront of the movement to legalize cannabis products across the country, is well-positioned to assist Montana residents and cannabis entrepreneurs with all of their cannabis law consulting needs. He regularly defends individuals facing fines or criminal charges, and assists cannabis businesses on matters such as business formation, getting permits, complying with regulations, and cannabis litigation.
A Growing Industry
In addition to working as a cannabis attorney, Michael R. Hughes is a hemp and cannabis producer. He knows this industry from the ground up.
As the cannabis industry has grown and changed, Attorney Hughes has helped lead the way forward. Both his law practice and consulting firm have helped his clients adapt as policy changes have altered the legal landscape surrounding cannabis. Hughes’ focus on the future has allowed him to stay a step or two ahead, and his clients have benefited from his foresight and preparation as much as his hard work.
Keeping his clients legally compliant is particularly important given that cannabis is still a Schedule I drug. This means it is a federal crime to possess, use, or attempt to sell it. The tension between this federal law, and Montana’s adult-use cannabis law is important to understand. Additionally, when local governments can ban or overregulate the adult-use market within a state, it is difficult for cannabis businesses to navigate. However, Michael R. Hughes has been threading this needle in other states for years. He is intimately familiar with the careful steps one must take to respect complex and at times conflicting local, state, and federal regulations.
Cannabis Business Formation in Montana
It is important for those who hope to enter the cannabis industry in Montana to start setting up their business entities as soon as possible since they will be entering the market months after already established medical dispensaries. It is also important for established cannabis businesses or their attorneys to consult with an attorney whose expertise is cannabis. Consulting with someone experienced with the law and the business, like Attorney Hughes is the best investment for new and existing cannabis companies.
As an experienced cannabis business lawyer Hughes will help you understand the legal, financial, and tax implications of entity selection and develop a long-term strategy to grow your cannabis-based business.
We can help you:
- Select the appropriate business entity (e.g. LLC, partnership, corporation)
- Create foundational documents (Articles of Incorporation, bylaws)
- Negotiate and draft operating agreements, partnership agreements, and shareholder agreements
If you have other business concerns, Attorney Michael R. Hughes can likely assist you with them as well. He’s not just a cannabis attorney, he’s a cannabis and hemp producer with unmatched knowledge of this industry.
Cannabis Licenses and Regulations in Montana
Montana law governs everything from the in-home cultivation of marijuana to the commercial sale of edibles and other marijuana products, and everything in between. It also allows local governments to pass and enforce their own more strict regulations in certain circumstances. And lest we forget, cannabis is still classified as a Schedule I drug under federal law. In short, there is a complex web of laws regulating the cannabis industry.
Attorney Michael R. Hughes has been helping clients in the cannabis industry stay in compliance with the various laws regulating them for years. Hughes has helped many farmers, producers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and others in the cannabis industry walk the fine line required by the complex laws and regulations.
As Montana moves from a medical marijuana program overseen by the Department of Public Health and Human Services to a commercial program run by the Montana Department of Revenue, the licenses required to sell cannabis are changing.
The Department of Revenue will be issuing at least five different types of licenses, regulating:
- Manufacture — making edibles and other products from natural marijuana
- Laboratory testing
Businesses will be able to apply for multiple licenses and have more than one type of license. This means a retail location could have several locations, and make their own unique items to sell.
The state is also going to issue eight combined-use licenses to each federally recognized tribe in Montana for the establishment of tribally owned dispensaries.
Having a license is one of the first steps toward running a successful business, but it is far from the only time the business will interact with the state government. Laws regulating things as varied as packaging and taxation must also be complied with. Attorney Hughes works with a number of cannabis businesses in an ongoing advisory role to ensure they are in compliance with changing laws.
At the local level, cannabis businesses must ensure their local government remains supportive of their existence. Montana law allows areas that did not vote in support of legalizing marijuana to limit its sale in their jurisdiction. Attorney Hughes helps his clients in these areas build support in their communities and tap into the political network so they are not regulated out of existence.
Hughes also helps businesses navigate complex regulatory requirements in their communities, such as land use, zoning, and building codes. These local regulations can trip up even the most well-meaning business owners, and violations can have far-reaching repercussions.
You can rely on Attorney Michael R. Hughes to help you get your marijuana business off the ground, and keep it running smoothly. His legal knowledge and real-world experience give him unmatched insight in this challenging industry.
Expert Opinion and Testimony in Criminal Defense matter against Cannabis Users & Entrepreneurs in Montana
It is going to take years for Montana regulators, retailers, and users to get to a point where the distribution and use of cannabis are established enough that legal risk is not something most people think about when they use or sell a cannabis product. In the meantime, consumers and everyone in the industry could face criminal charges if they make a misstep.
While Attorney Michael R. Hughes focuses on keeping cannabis businesses out of legal trouble and in compliance with the various laws regulating the industry, he is also called on as an expert to assist attorneys and their clients facing criminal charges. Hughes can provide expert opinion, testimony and consulting regarding cannabis related criminal cases.
It is critical for those in the industry to work with an experienced cannabis law and production expert. There is more at stake than a fine or a slap on the wrist. Having a criminal record can make it very difficult to get the licenses needed to do business in the cannabis industry.
An Attorney Who Understands Your Side
Voting to legalize marijuana was just the first step toward building a robust cannabis industry in Big Sky Country. Attorney Michael R. Hughes is ready to help growers, manufacturers, retailers, investors, and users in Montana take full advantage of the new opportunities open to them while avoiding legal risk.
Hughes provides comprehensive legal and cannabis business consulting services on matters as varied as land use, zoning, and water rights; to banking; to criminal defense. He has the business savvy, political connections, and legal knowledge to represent you, no matter what your role in the cannabis industry. Reach out today to schedule an initial consultation.