Montana's legal cannabis industry has moved nearly $73 million worth of product since adult-use sales began in January, according to new stats from the state Department of Revenue.
Adult-use sales have been growing steadily since the state's first recreational pot shops opened on January 1, climbing from $12.8 million in January to $13 million in February. Last month's total sales blew past both of those totals, peaking at nearly $15.9 million. Meanwhile, the state's healthy medical marijuana market made an additional $9.8 million in sales, bringing March's total to an impressive $25.7 million.
“This isn’t people growing weed in their shed anymore, this is big business,” said J.D. “Pepper” Petersen, president and CEO of the Montana Cannabis Guild, to the Montana State News Bureau.
Last year, state budget officials projected that the new adult-use market would make $130 million in sales by the end of 2022. But the current demand suggests that these figures are far too conservative. Adult-use stores have already sold more than $43.5 million worth of weed in just three months, putting the industry on track to make $174 million by year's end.
That figure may end up getting revised back down, though, thanks to concentrated efforts to return the Big Sky Country to a prohibition state. Montana legalized weed by way of a voter-approved ballot measure in 2020, but this unique measure only legalized adult-use sales in counties where a majority of residents voted for legalization. Prohibitionists are now hoping to overturn those results in counties where the pro-legalization margins were slim.
This year, the Montana Legislature is allowing every county in the state to take a second vote on allowing adult-use cannabis sales in their jurisdiction. And while a county that had previously banned weed sales could theoretically vote to approve them, insiders believe it is more likely that some legal-weed counties will ultimately say no to pot, forcing new local adult-use shops to shut their doors just months after opening.
Local sales bans may also reduce the amount of weed that is available to pot tourists from other states. Adult-use shops in tourist-friendly areas like Glacier and Yellowstone are expecting to see massive sales spikes this spring and summer, but those plans could be crushed if these counties vote to ban legal weed.
“We have a tremendous number of out-of-state customers coming into the dispensaries, and that number is just going to grow and grow,” Petersen told the Montana State News Bureau.
Every state that borders Montana continues to prohibit cannabis, and stoners living in these states have been more than willing to cross the border to cop some quality bud. Montana officials have predicted that out-of-state sales could reach $30 million this year and grow to $84 million by 2026. Neighboring South Dakota initially voted to legalize weed in 2020, but the governor conspired with local cops to overturn the will of the voters who pay their salaries.
Out-of-state sales are also proving to be a massive boon for America's newest adult-use market. New Mexico's legal weed industry, which raked in more than $5 million during its first weekend of adult-use sales, is predicted to sell over 40% of its legal weed to pot tourists. Most of these customers are expected to come from Texas, the country's largest prohibition state.