A recent report by Montana’s Department of Revenue (DOR) provided an analysis of the state’s first year of legalized recreational cannabis sales. According to the data, marijuana sales for both personal and medical purposes totaled $303,563,878 in 2022. Adult-use marijuana generated $202,947,326 of the total, while medical cannabis generated $93,616,552.
The department reported total sales of $25,653,687 in December, which remains at par with the averages of each month all year long. Although the overall figures haven’t changed a lot, adult-use transactions have increased their market share from 58% at the beginning of the year to nearly 77%.
According to Pepper Petersen, president of the Montana Cannabis Guild and a key player in the fight for recreational cannabis legalization, the total anticipated sales for last year were between $260 million and $280 million, thus the actual amount was significantly higher. Petersen stated that the numbers represented approximately 40 tons of marijuana in the entire state, all of which was grown and sold in Montana. Furthermore, Petersen estimates that the industry currently supports approximately 5,000 employment opportunities in the state.
In a meeting with legislators, Kristan Barbour, the head of the DOR Cannabis Control Division, revealed that as of Dec. 27, 2022, some $35,460,146 in cannabis tax revenue had been deposited into Montana’s general fund.
This year, state legislators are planning to take into account potential amendments to the sale of cannabis. One proposal, House Bill 128, could mean a few changes, including extending the prohibition on opening new cannabis businesses by two years. Adult-use cannabis sales are currently only allowed to be conducted by companies that were active in the medical cannabis market prior to the 2020 legalization vote.
The bill also supports making changes to the moratorium date to enable businesses that opened after the 2020 presidential election to sell recreational cannabis. Many Montanans would be happy about this, including Cindy Coleman, the proprietor of Sean’s Way, a cannabis dispensary in Helena. Coleman named the business after her son, who greatly benefited from medical cannabis prior to his cancer death.
Coleman started her business in 2017, took a break for personal reasons in 2019, then returned in 2020 but was unable to complete the state licensing requirements until Nov. 20, a few weeks after the vote,, and thus she cannot sell recreational cannabis. Coleman acknowledged that it has been challenging to continue operating exclusively for medical pot, and she believes that the expensive medicinal cannabis is deterring many potential patients from obtaining it. She claims that every day she has to turn away a large number of people who do not have medical cannabis cards.
House Bill 128’s initial committee hearing, which was originally scheduled for Jan. 17, 2023, has been postponed. The bill will likely be heard the following week, according to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Josh Kassmier (R-Fort Benton).
The success of newly launched cannabis markets such as the one in Montana shows that if industry players can access funding from various sources, including REZYFi Inc. and traditional banks, rapid growth can occur and residents will have a lot more products to choose from at competitive prices.
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