Eight adult-use marijuana dispensaries are slated to open in Whitefish after the passage of state legislation last spring allowed for the beginning of recreational marijuana sales across Montana. However, procedural slowdowns and overlapping guidelines have complicated the process, obscuring the future of the city’s cannabis economy.
On May 18, 2021, Gov. Greg Gianforte signed into law House Bill 701, which outlined the future of recreational cannabis sales throughout the state. The bill featured a number of provisions outlining when, where and how dispensaries could begin selling marijuana to adults over the age of 21.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2022, dispensaries that held established licenses for medical marijuana were allowed to begin sales to all adults. This permitted medical sellers to begin dispensing recreationally in their pre-existing shops, as well as to apply for permits to open new adult-use dispensaries. This provision gave medical marijuana dispensers an 18-month lead in the recreational cannabis market, as newcomers to the business without preexisting licenses are not allowed to put in applications with the state government until July 1, 2023.
The bill also included regulations such as prohibiting the smoking of marijuana in public places, regulating marijuana packaging and transportation and limiting the amount of