Montana rec sales day one
Montana rec sales day one

Montana's First Day of Recreational Cannabis Sales Crushed Sales Expectations for the State

People lined up around the corner and in sub-zero temperatures to get legal weed on day #1

Posted by:
HighChi on Thursday Jan 13, 2022

montana marijuana recreational sales

Hundreds of Montanans waited outside, despite the extreme temperatures, to be one of the first to purchase recreational cannabis legally. Montanans waited a long time to have this opportunity. Many of these cannabis users decided not to wait a moment longer once the doors of cannabis dispensaries opened up some days ago.

2022 ushered in good tidings for Montana's cannabis industry as the recreational niche became operational for the sales of cannabis and its derived products. Before D-Day, many predicted that the dispensaries would not meet the expected demand, but these establishments came prepared. No one left without purchasing their desired cannabis products.

From staying outside the stores in the freezing and snowy weather to spending thousands of dollars on cannabis, cannabis users in Montana celebrated the new year high on recreational pot.


The Countdown Is Over

The days of waiting endlessly to have a functional recreational cannabis industry are now in the past. The government also did a great job putting everything to meet the scheduled day. From the moment recreational cannabis was legalized in 2020, dozens of stores across the 56 counties in the state were primarily rented to serve as marijuana shops.

At the turn of midnight on Saturday, while fireworks were being sparked around the state, the doors of these establishments were also being opened up. Throughout the first day, the stores were filled with customers choosing to queue outside for their turns.

J.J. Thomas, the founder of Missoula's Higher Standard dispensary, admitted that every cannabis user and advocate in the state had been counting down to that very moment. J.D. Petersen, another prominent name in the struggle for cannabis legalization in 2020 and the founder of Cannabis Corner dispensary, said that at least 80% of customers who visited dispensaries on January 1 bought only adult-use weed.


First Day Sales

Retail sales of recreational cannabis in Montana have been projected to generate at least $130 million this year. This projection could be a reality because sales on Saturday were crazy, to say the least. In recent days, the sales rush has reduced but has remained steady.

The first day saw people going in and out of these new dispensaries prepared with their cash to buy into the new stock. In Cannabis Corner, Petersen revealed that some customers danced in the queue in anticipation. Very few were worried about the significant 20% tax levy mandated by the state, and even fewer were grumbling about the potency levels of some of the available products. Workers reported that some individuals were curious and inquired about the products and how they were processed. As expected, there were hundreds of new faces, unlike when only medical card holders could enter the store to make purchases.

Petersen said that the brand took up possession of the store just last month, and he was surprised that the turnout was as high as this. Customers were all about purchasing their weed, with very little thought directed to the signage of the previous dispensary that was still present. This proved to him that with the right amount of supply, buyers would always be available, especially in the cannabis industry. Other dispensaries, like Firefly and Cannabis Corner, reported similar incidents.

Jerry Spurlock, CEO of Firefly, told reporters that before the store opened for business on Saturday, a crowd lined up just outside the building to partake in the sales. He added that the first day had some elements of chaos. With this being the first day of sales, and with so many customers to attend to, some challenges came up. The most serious of these are problems with the payment system. At some point, employees had to tally up and record sales with calculators and pens to keep the line moving.

Other issues included computer glitches, crowded unmoving lines, and technical problems.

A customer stood out at Firefly Dispensary. Employees and other customers in line said that the man literally stood at the store's door despite the low temperature because he wanted to be the first to purchase recreational pot in Missoula. He got his wish, as Firefly was the first to open in the county.


What You Can Expect

It's a given that the number of legal cannabis users will be on the rise from this week onward. It is still uncertain whether or not this increase will be at the same level as that of other states. The Governor's office disclosed that in 2023, the industry could be worth as much as $190 million, as the 12-month moratorium on new licenses would have been removed.

Another uncertainty is the level of stigma against the plant. In the buildup to recreational legalization in Montana, about 58% of residents supported the measure, but this didn't cancel out the ongoing stigma against the plant. Many families still oppose the plant and its legalization.

Over twelve underdeveloped counties in Montana are known as the "red counties" because they turned down the legalization initiative and have refused to allow any recreational dispensary to set up shop. Fortunately, cannabis advocates in this region can travel to legal counties to purchase their products.


Maintaining Supply

For this industry to thrive, supply must be sufficient. After all, the most crucial goal of any legal recreational cannabis market is to make a profit. With a tax rate of about 20% and an additional 3% excise tax, cannabis operators have to ensure the current sales momentum is maintained.

When it was just medical cannabis for sale, supply was regular as there were a limited number of patients registered under the program. With the new development, dispensaries will have to be prepared to serve at least one hundred thousand more residents. Situations are now very different, and while there will be shortages, operators must be ready to find a supply as soon as possible.


Bottom Line

The total amount realized this first week would be announced at the end of the first quarter when published tax reports. All indications point to the fact that cannabis dispensaries will remain bullish in the coming weeks, especially in the developed parts of the state. With time, the stigma will gradually reduce.





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