Montana’s hashish business is scrambling to finalize particulars earlier than leisure gross sales start

Recreational cannabis sales begin in half of Montana’s counties in less than two months. Regulators and retailers alike are trying to finalize the details at the last minute before the January 1st deadline.

It’s another busy morning at Missoula’s Greenhouse Farmacy. Pharmacy staff pluck mass dried marijuana flowers from a large plastic container, pre-weigh them, and pack them in small aluminum containers for sale.

“I feel like I’m in a hamster wheel. It’s constant, “says Brian Monahan, co-owner of Greenhouse Farmacy.

He says the cannabis industry is intense under the best of circumstances, but especially now that recreational sales are on the horizon. Monahan is preparing its medical marijuana pharmacy to join the new marketplace for the first legal sale of recreational cannabis to adults aged 21 and over. Monahan estimates its sales could triple in the next year. In preparation, he starts up production, updates floor plans, installs new sales stands and improves parking facilities.

“It’s almost like a marathon runner at the end of a marathon. It’s like, just a few more miles and it’s there.”

Edward O’Brien

Greenhouse Farmacy co-owner Brian Monahan stands next to a sign that reads “Drugs” in his Missoula, MT store on November 4, 2021.

Most Montaner voted to legalize recreational cannabis last year. While it will be legal to use nationwide, it will be legal to sell in half of the states where voters approved the election legalizing adult use.

This means that marijuana sales can vary from county to county.

“I think what we hear from local governments is a real interest in making sure they control their territories with what their citizens want to see,” said Kristan Barbour, head of the state treasury’s cannabis control division.

“As we are seeing from different areas – Billings, Missoula – they are thinking about how they are going to run this business or how much business they want to allow in the first place. So we will always make sure that local governments trump what the state allows, ”says Barbour.

In the recent local elections, counties were given the option to enact local sales taxes on marijuana and regulations on where business would be allowed. Three counties have decided to do this.

Voters in Missoula, Park, and Yellowstone counties will levy a 3 percent local tax on recreational marijuana in addition to a state-mandated 20 percent tax. Park and Yellowstone County also approved a medical marijuana tax increase.

According to Aaron Smith of the National Cannabis Industry Association, Montana’s imminent patchwork approach to marijuana sales is not uncommon. He says that when this new system is introduced, disagreements are to be expected between policymakers, regulators and industry.

“It’s not unique at all. There are certainly many complex questions to be answered. As in other countries, mistakes are made along the way. It is important that the will of the electorate is encouraged, and I think Montana is on the right track. “

Legislators recently asked the Treasury Department to reconsider a proposed regulation on who can work in cannabis stores.

Another rule embedded in adult cannabis sales legislation would prohibit license holders from selling CBD products on the premises as well. This rule is also subjected to a new test.

Cannabis bud.

Pepper Peterson of the Montana Cannabis Guild says the introduction of regulations for this new industry has been an “interesting drive”.

Despite his frustration with the state’s early regulatory efforts, Peterson believes the new industry will be lucrative – one that will generate millions of dollars in business opportunities and tax revenues in the so-called “green counties,” which will soon be selling recreational pots will take place legally.

“I think we’re going to see the opt-out counties come before the legislature in 2023 and say, ‘We want some of this damned money.’ We will fight against it. If you don’t participate when your county has no sales, you shouldn’t get any of the money. “

Aaron Smith of the National Cannabis Industry Association:

“What we are seeing over time is that with the tax revenue flowing next door, these places then decide to have a slice of that tax revenue pie and start changing their local ordinances. I would expect the same thing to happen in Montana over time. “

Trade groups predict the country’s recreational marijuana industry will soon surpass the $ 20 billion mark.

A study by the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research says Montana’s fledgling recreational cannabis industry could reach over $ 200 million in sales by the next year.