How Montana pot shops are adapting, what to expect in the future
The expectation of huge sales the first weekend seemed plausible for those selling marijuana at retail. Statewide recreational weed retail stores, which number 467 in total, saw increases of up to 500% in some areas, with gross sales reaching north of 1.5 million bucks. According to Montana Department of Revenue List of approved dispensaries.
FUTURE CHANGES IN THE LAW ARE LIKELY TO FUEL INCREASE IN SALES
According to Marijuana Trade Daily, the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research predicts a continued rise in overall cannabis sales, supported in part by Montana’s robust tourism industry. Another factor, however, that will almost certainly play a role in the sales forecast is a change in licensing restrictions. According to the Department of Revenue, only licensees who had obtained their license before November 3, 2021 (before the vote) were eligible to procure and sell adult recreational marijuana.
Since July 1, 2023, everything has changed. To this date, anyone not convicted of a drug-related felony or misdemeanor will be eligible to apply for a recreational sales license. Although there will likely be a flood of new applications, not all will be approved. And of those who are approved, many will not open a business due to the heavy regulatory burden they unexpectedly face.
Tiera Goich owns multi-location cannabis retailer Ganja Goddess GGMT. With her team, she operates stores in Bozeman, Livingston, Butte, Helena and Missoula, according to the chain. website. Their busiest store, she says, is by far Bozeman’s, a fact she attributes to being one of the first in that area to get a license. Overall, Goich estimates they’ve seen a 300-400% increase in sales across the entire product line. Although sales have (predictably) stabilized, they do not anticipate a precipitous decline at any time in the future.
Regarding the onerous monitoring and compliance rules instituted by the state of Montana, and the endless list of minutiae involved in getting produce from greenhouse to storefront, Goich says, “There are so many things that come into play so if you can’t stay on top of that that will eventually bring you down We trust our team and our “budtenders” but only seeing them one day every two weeks it is hard to have that oversight,” she said, alluding to the fact that no store is ever in absolute compliance, all the time, although that is the obvious goal.
THIS IS NOT LEGAL EVERYWHERE
Contrary to popular belief, the sale of cannabis for recreational purposes is not permitted in many counties. Mostly rural, these areas voted by a majority not to allow the new law to come into force. Administration of the statewide program recently changed hands from the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) to the Department of Revenue (DOR), and it’s clear you’re really exploring the website. DOR; bits of information are missing. For example, it is unclear whether individuals can still grow and possess the plant for personal (non-medical) recreational use in counties where the ordinance prohibits sales for recreational purposes.
WHERE WE GO FROM HERE
As with just about any nascent legislation, there is no case law yet to cite, and compliance and enforcement measures lag behind the trade. Certainly, we can expect this somewhat nebulous situation to evolve over time as new issues are discovered and resolved, not the least of which is the standard that will be applied for impaired driving, and the well-established science that proves the standard works.
Keep reading for more local business news in Western Montana.
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