BILLINGS — On Monday night, the Billings City Council brought its marijuana laws in line with state marijuana laws and lowered the age a person can work for or own a marijuana business from 21 to 18.
The city has the right to establish an age requirement for marijuana business license holders and their employees, but voted 8-3 to lower the minimum age to 18.
The 21-year-old age requirement prompted the Billings dispensary, Montana Advanced Caregivers, to file a lawsuit against the city earlier this month. The dispensary employs three people who are older than 18, but not yet 21.
The state's marijuana law drew criticism from council members at the meeting because one section in question a sort of oxymoron. It reads that no one under 21 is allowed inside a marijuana dispensary, but then the next line states people 18 or older can work for one.
"Even if we allow 18-year-olds, assuming they are in a marijuana business, there is still an issue, isn't there? On whether to do so is a violation of state law. And that's between the marijuana business owner and the state of Montana, not us," said Mayor Bill Cole.
At past council meetings, the state's marijuana law has often befuddled the city's legal team for gaps like this one where assumptions need to be made by local governing bodies.