BOZEMAN - The first day of recreational sales of marijuana in Montana and now businesses and guests are ready to kick off the new year with a lot of excitement and still a lot of uncertainty.
“Since the summer we have had multiple people walk in throughout the day asking, ‘Hey, do you sell recreational?’ and always having to turn them away and tell them January 1st,” says Darian Gregory, owner of Bighorn Buds in Bozeman.
That day is finally here for owner Gregory and his employees; the minutes before opening were filled with anticipation.
“It's been hectic. We have been up almost at midnight getting everything ready here,” said Gregory.
As the guests waited in their cars in sub-zero temperatures and the employees put the final touches on the store making sure labels and everything was in order they were excited to see how this new era for their store would go.
“Anxiety and anxiousness you know seeing what's going to happen- you know we don't really know,” said Gregory.
As their store filled with guests Gregory and those who came to his store said they were excited agreed to that. “I’m happy Montana made the jump to recreational,” said one customer.
The last few weeks have meant long hours for Gregory’s team of 5 employees doing everything from cultivation to selling. “This is kind of our dream and we just want to make it work,” says Gregory.
Throughout the day a steady flow of customers, marijuana and cash made the day fly by for the employees at Bighorn Buds and as the sun went down and the flow of shoppers slowed down they were finally able to take a breather.
“It was crazy busy to start out with,” says Gregory.
With each passing hour, the nerves from the morning had gone down. “The day is almost over, we are not as anxious as we were,” says Gregory.
Reflecting on how business went on the first day of recreational sales: “It was definitely better than expected,” says Gregory.
Gregory tells me that he saw a lot of people from out of state, in fact, he says traffic was so high that even their ATM machine ran out of money. As the night came to a close on this new chapter, and they began to gather things up, his dogs Sayde and Dobby who greeted every single customer laid in their bed exhausted. Not only were they tired but the employees who worked all day said they were ready for some much-needed rest before they do it again.
“I'm going to sleep- I’m going home so fast I'm going to pass out,” says Gregory.
MARIJUANA SALES: WHERE AND WHEN
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 people 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 two mature plants and two seedlings in their home.
Public consumption of marijuana can get you a civil penalty, and driving under the influence of marijuana will still be illegal.