HELENA — After months of preparation and planning, marijuana dispensaries in Montana made their first sales to recreational customers on Saturday, January 1, 2022. Most of the retailers that MTN talked with on Tuesday said the first weekend was a success.
An estimated 380 dispensaries in 29 counties are now able to sell marijuana to both medical and recreational customers.
The Montana Department of Revenue reported that they recorded a combined $1,566,980 in marijuana sales for Saturday and Sunday.
There’s no immediate indication how much higher that figure is than typical, but a number of dispensary managers told MTN they had much more business over the weekend than usual.
They said the vast majority of those sales were to recreational customers, noting that many medical patients stocked up before Saturday's launch.
For the next 18 months, only dispensaries that had been licensed prior to the legalization initiative in November 2020 can make recreational sales.
The state has placed a 20% tax on recreational sales, compared to 4% on medical sales. That means the first weekend’s sales could generate up to $313,000 in state revenues.
Voters in several counties have also approved 3% local option taxes on marijuana, which won’t go into effect for a few more weeks.
Yellowstone, Park, and Dawson counties will put the tax on both medical and adult-use marijuana. Missoula County voters approved the tax for adult-use sales but voted against putting it on medical marijuana.
Here are some important things to know about recreational marijuana in Montana:
Montana Initiative 190 passed 56% to 43% back in November 2020, but that doesn't mean you'll be able to buy marijuana anywhere in the state.
People living in what are called "green counties" - where a majority of residents voted in favor - will be allowed to have recreational sales.
Residents of "red counties" - where voters opted out of legal sales -will not have recreational sales but still have the ability to make the switch as long as they put it up to a vote.
While marijuana will be legal in Montana, it's still not legal at the federal level, so that means having marijuana at Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park will still not be allowed.
Another thing you should know is that medical marijuana businesses that had a license on or before November 3, 2020, will be the only ones allowed to sell recreational marijuana for the first 18 months.
After July 1, 2023, new businesses will be allowed to apply for permits.
The Montana law allows for adults over the age of 21 to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana with a 20% state sales tax added to the purchase. Other localities may have an additional tax.
Marijuana businesses will only be allowed to open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Montanans will be allowed to have 2 mature plants and 2 seedlings in their home.
Important to know: public consumption of marijuana can get you a civil penalty, and driving under the influence of marijuana will still be illegal.