District Court Judge David Grubich has ruled in favor of a couple who want to open a marijuana business in Great Falls.
Janelle and Dale Yatsko have operated outside city limits in the county for several years and planned to open a store in Great Falls; they filed the lawsuit after being denied by the City earlier this year.
Judge Grubich's ruling states: "Pursuant to 16-12-301, MCA, the cultivation and sale of adult-use cannabis is authorized by state law within Cascade County, including within the City of Great Falls."
The City of Great Falls will not appeal the court's ruling (scroll down to read the complete order).
The decision also states:
The City has the power under 16-12-301(2), MCA, to regulate by ordinance marijuana businesses operating in the City. However, the only power to prohibit a marijuana business in a county or city belongs to the voters within the county or city at issue... The City's ordinance does not regulate recreational marijuana within the city; it prohibits it. The City's ordinance has been enforced to prohibit recreational marijuana businesses with the City. This is a clear conflict with state law. State law exclusively controls where recreational marijuana is legal and where it is illegal, as well as providing a process for voters in cities and counties to change whether they are a "green" or "red" city or county.
In a news release on Thursday, city officials said they understood that the issue “might not receive a favorable ruling,” so adopted zoning to allow recreational/medical marijuana in the city limits in certain zoning classifications.
The court's ruling triggered the enactment of Ordinance 3249, which outlines zoning for commercial marijuana business activities. Ordinance 3249 was passed by the City Commission during a public hearing on September 6, 2022.
Under state law, the City is empowered to regulate where sales of marijuana may occur; the City Commission voted to allow marijuana in Industrial Zones.
On August 2, 2022, the City Commission passed Resolution 10471, which refers to Great Falls voters the question of whether or not to prohibit all types of commercial marijuana businesses from operating within the City.
The question will be on the General Election ballot for vote on November 8, 2022.
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Here is the full text of Judge Grubich's ruling: