HELENA — Helena marijuana dispensaries saw an uptick in sales on New Year's Day thanks to adult-use recreational marijuana being legal as of January 1, 2022.
"We've been cleaned out. We ran a really big Christmas sale that was definitely a contributor to that," said Brett Flower, co-owner of Nomad Big Sky.
With only a small supply of marijuana available, Flower says the business has been waiting to legalize recreational marijuana.
"Today's a day we've been looking forward to for a really long time with recreational coming up. I think it's a great opportunity for Montana. We had people at the front door as soon as we were opening their excited to buy their first legal marijuana," said Flower.
Flower hopes to have a restock in the next week.
Meanwhile, a downtown Helena dispensary has been preparing for January 1st for weeks.
“December was really dedicated to getting the name out and the word out that things were going to be happening, as well as stocking up on things that we needed,” said Teria Gioch, co-owner of Ganja Goddess.
“I am very excited for this movement and to be able to educate people on cannabis. As a Montanan I never thought I would see the day that this would happen in my lifetime, so it’s very exciting,“ said Keeva Beddow.
"We had to ramp up our edible production. We had to double up on cartridges. We had to hire new people, get, you know, familiarize new individuals with the industry," said Talia Hansen, lead budtender.
Hansen says the days following the first sales day will still be busy: "The first couple of days might be being kind of wild and kind of a lot, but fortunately, all of our systems were up and working. We have been pretty successful on that side getting, you know, sales made and moving through the day," said Hansen.
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.