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Initiative 190: Montana’s Recreational Use Legalization Kicked off on Jan 1, 2022

By January 28, 2022March 11th, 2024Cannabis

Montana expanded their cannabis legalization to include adult recreational use for some counties

Blog - Handing Holding Cannabis With Message About Montana and Recreational Manijuana

As of January 1, 2022, adult recreational marijuana is now legal in the state of Montana for numerous counties. This has impacted cannabis businesses significantly across the state.

In the “red counties” where only medical marijuana is legal, a number of cannabis business owners are worried about how they are going to compete with their competition in “green counties” where recreational sales are legal. They are worried that they are going to lose a lot of business since they can only help half of the market, like what is described here where one marijuana shop owner estimates that he is going to lose $1.2 million because he is in a “red county,” and therefore cannot sell recreationally.

On the contrary, some cannabis shops in legal territory are worried about likely Montana cannabis shortages in the near future. They are trying to take whatever precautions they can to help ensure that product does not run out for their medical marijuana clients.

Recreational Legalization Still Has Some Growing Stages

At this time, cannabis businesses can only medical marijuana across the entire state. Recreational use marijuana can be sold by Montana cannabis companies in a handful of counties now—the counties that had voters pass Initiative 190. The state of Montana has 56 counties, and about half voted in favor for Initiative 190, so cannabis companies located in the counties where it was passed have the first ability to implement recreational marijuana sales. It is currently understood that the voter rejected counties will need to hold another vote to see if they can opt-in.

For more information about what counties are not allowing retail sale for recreational marijuana, and what some local marijuana businesses have to say about that, visit KTVH News. You can also view which counties passed Initiative 190 here (scroll to the bottom of the list to see the option for a map view).

You might also be interested about prior preparation for legalization back at the end of 2021, and the possible impacts to the cannabis market on U.S. News.

What Else Is Important to Know?

With this new breakthrough, it is important for businessowners and the public to keep in mind that certain cannabis restrictions and protocols have not changed in Montana regardless of this new legalization breakthrough. (If you are ever looking for current Montana state cannabis legalization and regulation information, visit Montana’s Department of Revenue. They also have a FAQ page on the new recreational marijuana initiative.)

According to Montana’s Department of Revenue (MDR):

1. Adults over 21 may possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana for recreational purposes and not face criminal penalties.

2. Marijuana consumption and possession (including medical marijuana) is still prohibited in public and in certain other locations.

3. It is still illegal to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana.

4. Only medical marijuana is legally allowed in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

5. Individual growing:

  • Adults may cultivate up to 2 mature plants and 2 seedlings for private use in a private residence (subject to certain restrictions).
  • Medical marijuana cardholders may cultivate up to 4 mature plants and 4 seedlings.
  • NO plants can be visible to the public.

6. When in doubt, contact your local law enforcement agency for more information.

7. PLEASE NOTE:No matter what state you are in that has legalized cannabis, it is important to keep in mind that state legalization does not change the fact that cannabis is still illegal under federal law on all federal lands and waters.

What’s Next?

Legalization expansion could happen for more Montana counties. Many cannabis business owners who are in counties that did not pass Initiative 190 are hoping that their county will do a revote and that the results are in-favor the next time around. Only time will tell. Keep in the loop by following the voting map. You can also contact the Cannabis Control Division (CCD) for more information.

Keep in the loop on what is allowed in your county so that your marijuana company can act accordingly. You can get county details and information here. (That page also has information about scams, such as individuals claiming to represent the CCD who don’t. Be cautious and reach out to the CCD when in doubt or if you ever have any questions.)

You can stay up to date on adult-use marijuana cultivation, sales, etc. by signing up for the Department of Revenue’s e-newsletter. To subscribe, visit this page.

Know the differences between recreational marijuana and medical marijuana products for your customers and market accordingly. For example, MDR says that currently medical marijuana will continue to be taxed at 4% of retail sales, while recreational marijuana will be taxed at 20% retail sales. That is a huge gap that customers might notice, and it might be beneficial to your company to be prepared for that confrontation and to think of ways to soften the blow. For example, your marketing campaign might want to really focus on quality vs. quantity/pricing, so that people know that they are going to you for your product, not for how cheap they can get it.

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