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Medical marijuana

Medical marijuana

LARRY MAYER, Gazette Staff

Two new systems for tracking medical marijuana and licensing providers will go online later this month.

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services set March 19 as the date to put the Complia and Metrc systems online.

Complia is the system that will handle online licensing for medical marijuana providers. Employees of medical marijuana businesses and patients will also have to register, according to new rules governing the system.

Metrc is the contractor that will run the product tracking system, which was a major part of the remade medical marijuana program. The company has contracts with multiple other states including Colorado. The system is supposed to track marijuana from the grow facility to the point of sale.

According to the health department, providers must register through Complia in order to begin with Metrc.

The costs of using Complia and Metrc are covered by the fees and tax revenue generated within the program, according to health department spokesman Jon Ebelt.

The program's final administrative rules, which support legislation passed by lawmakers last spring, take effect on April 10, Ebelt said in an email.

Providers probably will come into the new systems throughout the year. Ebelt said that the department requires all providers to be signed up by Dec. 31.

Kate Cholewa, spokeswoman for the Montana Cannabis Industry Association, said that she was concerned that providers who opt into the program earlier in the year may be subject to more costs than those who sign up later.

At any rate, the health department is in the final stages of implementing the new medical marijuana program, which in addition to tracking includes new laws for licensing, product testing, taxes and possession limits.

The program continues to grow. The department reported 24,128 registered patients in February. That's up roughly 2,000 from two months ago.

There were 610 registered providers in Montana as of February.

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General Assignment Reporter

Reporter for The Billings Gazette.