A New Year in Montana means new customers for marijuana dispensaries
Happy New Year, especially for those residing in Montana. On Saturday morning, Jan. 1, recreational marijuana sales in the state were permitted by law to begin. Montana Initiative 190 passed with 56% of the vote in November, 2020, setting the stage for a legal recreational marijuana market. However, the ability to purchase marijuana won’t be enjoyed statewide, as some counties have opted out of sales in their jurisdiction.
People who live in what are known as the “green counties” in Montana will have the ability to purchase recreational cannabis within their jurisdictions. These counties are packed with supporters of Initiative 190. In contrast, residents residing in the state’s “red counties” are not currently able to purchase marijuana without a medical reason. This could change, but opponents of recreational marijuana would have to put it up for a vote.
For the first 18 months of recreational sales, only medical marijuana dispensaries that have already obtained licenses prior to the 2020 election will have the ability to make sales. Starting July 1, 2023, new businesses will be allowed to apply for licenses. Marijuana will also remain prohibited at Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National park until the federal government lifts their prohibition on the plant.
Recreational marijuana businesses in the state will be allowed to be open for 11 hours between 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Montanans aged 21 and over will be permitted to purchase marijuana with a 20% sales tax added to their purchase. Some localities have added their own additional taxes. Publicly consuming marijuana could result in a civil penalty, while driving under its influence remains illegal.
Marijuana legalization is gaining popularity amongst voters, regardless of political affiliations. Montana joins a growing list of states that have not only legalized marijuana for recreational use, but have also implemented their plans to execute sales. While marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, states across the country have taken the matter into their own hands. With 2022 being a midterm election year, it’s likely we’ll see more states join the bandwagon after seeing the success of recreational sales in other states.