Despite near-zero-degree temperatures, an overflowing parking lot marked the first day of adult-use cannabis sales at Lionheart Caregiving in Yellowstone County, Mont.
On Jan. 1, the dispensary was one of many to experience the start of a new era of adult-use cannabis sales in the state, the Helena Independent Record reported.
Two dispensaries with locations Missoula, Mont., Puffin Canna and The Higher Standard, had their busiest days ever on New Year’s Day after previously solely serving medical patients, according to television station KPAX.
“It’s been going amazing,” Matty Coen of The Higher Standard told KPAX. “We had people coming in right off the bat. We opened half an hour early even and people just started flowing in.” Coen’s role at the business is budtender, per the Independent Record, which published a photo of Coen selling a pre-roll to a customer.
The Higher Standard owner JJ Thomas told the Independent Record that there have been obstacles getting to this point where his business can sell adult-use cannabis.
"I'm thankful for everything, thankful for my health, (to) be able to do this because it’s taken a toll on me and my family to build all these stores and get here, but it was a dream I had," said Thomas, whose business has locations in Helena, Missoula, and Butte. "I'm hoping to create a legacy for my family."
Montana voters approved I-190, the state’s adult-use legalization initiative, in November 2020. The state government then passed House Bill 701 to implement the adult-use program. Cities and counties can opt in or out of participation in the program, which implements a 20% excise tax on cannabis product and allows municipalities to impose an additional excise tax up to 3%, according to HB 701.