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Montana just voted to legalize marijuana. Here’s what happens next

Published on November 3, 2020 · Last updated November 7, 2022
Montana voters approved the legalization of cannabis for all adults 21 and older. Now comes the hard part: Implementing the law and opening the new stores. (Joshua Titus for Leafly)

Congratulations, Montana!

After a contentious campaign rife with rancor, Montana voters have legalized recreational cannabis via Initiative 190. Montanans also passed I-190’s necessary companion, Constitutional Initiative 118, which amends the state constitution to set the legal age of cannabis consumption at 21. Both measures gained favor with 57% of voters.

Here’s what happens next.

No, not quite yet—but very soon. 

New Year’s Day.

Montana residents will be allowed to possess, use, and grow marijuana on January 1, 2021.

More specifically: Montana adults will be legally able to celebrate the new year by lighting up a legal joint, spliff, vape, or bong, on Jan. 1, 2021, at 12:01 a.m.

How much can I possess?

Every adult 21 or older may legally possess up to one ounce of cannabis flower, and up to eight grams of cannabis concentrates.

Home cannabis growers may possess up to four mature plants and four seedlings per individual, with a maximum of eight plants per household.

The best strains of all time: 100 popular cannabis strains to try before you die

When can I legally buy marijuana?

About a year from now. Recreational sales are scheduled to start in Montana in Jan. 2022.

Can I grow cannabis at home?


Starting Jan. 1, 2021, adults may possess up to four mature plants per individual, with a maximum of eight plants per household.

Leafly’s guide to growing marijuana

Will there be new retail marijuana shops?

Probably, but not for a couple of years.

To help currently operating medical marijuana providers gain a foothold in the adult-use retail market, Initiative 190 institutes a one-year moratorium on new licenses for out-of-state companies.

Furthermore, when that moratorium expires, those out-of-state operators will only be able to enter the market with a small grow canopy.

Will marijuana be taxed?

Yes, adult-use cannabis will be taxed at a flat rate of 20%.

Is there a sentence expungement process?


Individuals with non-violent cannabis records can begin applying for expungement through the Department of Revenue.

Individuals currently behind bars for cannabis-related offenses that are deemed legal under Initiative 190 can also petition to have their sentences reduced.

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Can my town ban cannabis stores?


A local municipality can enact a temporary moratorium on adult-use cannabis stores. But that hold must then be put to a vote in the next election—which doesn’t have to be a general election, it could be a primary or off-season election.

Can retail marijuana stores advertise?

Not in the traditional sense. Retail cannabis stores can’t advertise in local newspapers or on TV.

Leafly currently lists legal medical marijuana dispensaries in Montana, and will list licensed adult-use cannabis stores on our website and app.

How will Montana providers fare in all this?

It’ll be mixed, for sure. They’ll probably need to scale up to meet the increased demand from an adult-use consumer audience.

Here’s how Spark1‘s CFO, Marc Lax, was feeling about it all on Election Day.

Leafly: Are customers calling about legalization? Do they have questions?

Marc Lax: They’re asking, “When it passes, can we come in and purchase immediately?” [The answer is no, not until January 2022.]

If rec passes, there’s going to be a huge spike in demand for cannabis. How do you prep for that?

I think untethering has given us a taste of what rec is going to give us. More than doubling would be an understatement. If you’re not as efficient as possible, and you’re not prepared to double your infrastructure, put a Closed sign up, sell now.

If we base [our program] on what’s happened in other states, the big are going to get bigger and the small are going to go away. Team up [via the 50% horizontal provision in the adult-use bill], or close up.

Greg Gianforte is projected to become the governor of Montana tonight. He’s very anti-legalization. Are you apprehensive that he will attempt to slow down or stand in the way of legalization?

I think he needs to ask himself what the repercussions of creating a more complicated rollout would be. We need to realize that cannabis in Montana is blue collar capitalism. It’s agricultural work. They go in and get dirty. They work hard. It’s not a simple “get rich” scheme by any means. It’s as Republican and American as it gets. It’s good capitalism.

How do you think rec will impact the medical market in Montana?

What’s going to happen to current medical providers is it’s going to explode their business. Locals will always have a card, no one’s going to pay a 20% tax. They’re going to want the [stronger], better products. Doctors [who write recommendations for cannabis] are going to blow the fuck up. Rec is a tourist tax. Tax the tourists. They want to come in and pick up herb? Great. Keep the doctors, keep the medical community thriving.


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Max Savage Levenson
Max Savage Levenson
Max Savage Levenson likely has the lowest cannabis tolerance of any writer on the cannabis beat. He also writes about music for Pitchfork, Bandcamp and other bespectacled folk. He co-hosts The Hash podcast. His dream interview is Tyler the Creator.
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