Opponents want recreational marijuana vote in Yellowstone County

Posted at 6:19 PM, Nov 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-05 20:19:18-04

BILLINGS - Billings voters decided against allowing recreational marijuana sales within the city limits on Tuesday and now one group wants to put that up to a vote in the county.

Safe Montana founder Steve Zabawa said he talked with Commissioner John Ostlund about that possibility.

With the ordinance failing 55% to 45%, Safe Montana says there is a chance for the county to consider prohibiting recreational marijuana businesses

"John Ostlund told me that he would take a hard look at it, if the city of Billings voted to opt-out," Zabawa told Q2 on Tuesday.

After Steve Zabawa said this, we called Ostlund who talked about the city vote.

"The voters sent a pretty clear message," Ostlund said. "The attorneys will have to look at what's legal. I'm committed to looking at all the options. Steve is welcome to come back and we'll look at anything."

"So I think it needs to go back up to the county commissioners be brought up at a meeting go through the normal process," Zabawa said.

In the meantime many medical marijuana dispensaries in Yellowstone county are getting ready to sell recreational marijuana the first of the year.

"It's going to be more challenges for us most definitely but in a growth sense it'll be really good for us," said Ryder Geberding Medicine Creek owner.

"We've been getting as prepared as we can," said Jed Sadloski, Lionheart Caregivers manager. "We're working with the state to ramp up our production."

Montanans voted 57% to 43% in 2020 to passI-190 legalize recreational marijuana.

But earlier this year, the Montana legislature passed House Bill 701, which states in part that a marijuana business may not operate in the county in which the majority of voters voted against legalization.

Right now, 26 counties prohibit recreational sales, according to Safe Montana.

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The bill also states a county or municipality may hold a vote to prohibit the previously approved or allowed operations.

Those in the medical marijuana business talked about the possibility of putting recreational marijuana up to another vote.

"Yellowstone county passed the first time, not by much but it did pass," said Gerberding. "So it's it's definitely what the people want."

"It's always up to the voters in the city and the state," Sadloski said.

"It's a natural process that the Yellowstone County voters need to have an opportunity to go through," Zabawa said.