HELENA — The countdown is on to Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, when authorized leisure marijuana gross sales will start in Montana. It’s doubtless to usher in numerous new enterprise for a lot of current marijuana dispensaries – however for these working in a lot of Montana’s extra rural counties, it’s not going to be open for them, not less than not instantly.
“I believe it’s going to come back as a shock to lots of people right here in Beaverhead County,” mentioned John Buhrman, a associate and supervisor at The Larger Normal, a dispensary in Dillon. “In speaking to totally different individuals in Dillon and across the county, they imagine Saturday morning, they’re going to have the ability to purchase adult-use marijuana. I’m positive we’re going to have a bunch of them within the store Saturday morning that we’ll have to show away.”
Beaverhead County is considered one of Montana’s so-called “pink counties,” the place medical marijuana suppliers aren’t licensed to start promoting to leisure prospects. In “inexperienced counties,” suppliers that had been working earlier than voters handed the legalization measure Initiative 190 can begin these gross sales Jan. 1.
Based mostly on the state’s projections for leisure gross sales, Buhrman estimates that his enterprise might lose out on as a lot as $1.2 million in income per yr if they’ll’t be part of the adult-use market.
“Fairly a kick within the pants,” he mentioned.
As a part of the negotiations over leisure marijuana through the 2021 legislative session, lawmakers inserted a provision into Home Invoice 701 that linked adult-use gross sales as to if county voters supported I-190. In counties the place most voters backed legalization, leisure gross sales could be robotically allowed. Counties the place voters rejected the measure must maintain an extra public vote to “opt-in” to leisure marijuana.
Half of Montana’s 56 counties voted for I-190, and the opposite half voted towards it – although the 28 “inexperienced” counties included properly over 80% of the state’s inhabitants. Beaverhead County had the closest ends in the state, with “No” profitable 2,819 to 2,792 – a distinction of simply 27 votes.
Buhrman says he’s disenchanted within the county-based restrictions, arguing they’re simply more likely to drive prospects to neighboring counties or to the black market. He mentioned, since marijuana possession received’t be unlawful, individuals could be driving again into the pink counties with marijuana they purchased elsewhere.
Counties can flip from “pink” to “inexperienced” or vice versa. A resident in a pink county can flow into a petition, and in the event that they get sufficient signatures, one other vote might be held on whether or not to permit adult-use gross sales. In a inexperienced county, leaders can name a vote on whether or not to ban marijuana companies.
Dawson County, which incorporates Glendive, was the primary pink county to modify. Final week, they held a particular election, the place voters accepted permitting leisure gross sales. County Commissioner Joe Sharbono advised MTN they anticipate that change to take impact on Jan. 1.
In Yellowstone County, a inexperienced county, county commissioners determined to position a vote on the June main poll, giving residents the choice to ban leisure gross sales.
Buhrman is hoping to flow into a petition for an election in Beaverhead County subsequent yr, more than likely to be held in November 2022. He mentioned, whereas he opposed the “pink/inexperienced” cut up, he credited the Legislature for giving native individuals a path to make modifications.
“We’ll work by means of it that approach, and subsequent yr right now, hopefully we’ll have it right here in Beaverhead County and it’ll simply fade into the previous,” he mentioned.