The chairs gave it away. Two of them flanked the door inside the small Third Street boutique, armless and brown and patterned with marijuana leaves. Shelves on the walls housed a collection of coffee mugs, journals, stickers and glass pipes. Glass bottles with wood stoppers sat in a display on the counter, the green buds inside partly obscured by labels bearing strain names like Jedi Kush and Moose ‘N’ Lobsta.
Emmie Purcell and Brian Monahan have been waiting eight months to flip the switch on the “open” sign they’d purchased for Greenhouse Farmacy, Missoula’s newest medical pot dispensary. On Nov. 25, they did just that, ushering in a wave of family, friends and at least one potential patient looking to get a medical use card.
“We’re in a fantastic time in Montana where we can be on the ground level of this whole new budding industry,” Purcell said, pun intended.
Purcell and Monahan are hardly strangers to either the industry or the state. Montana natives both, they got their start as medical providers at the onset of Montana’s green rush in 2010, Monahan explained, and had planned to open a dispensary before the post-Legislature crash of 2011. The duo then moved to Oregon, where Purcell wound up as the co-owner of a Hood River dispensary that was among the first to offer sales of recreational weed in 2015. Now the two hope to apply their knowledge as Montana crafts a regulatory framework heading into 2018.
“I feel as though, like a lot of industries in Missoula, there’s a bar that’s set, and then there’s a bar that can be set,” Monahan said. “I feel like Missoula is ready for new growth.”
Greenhouse Farmacy isn’t waiting on the state’s new rules to shape its philosophy. Sustainability is a big word around the shop—even the countertop is reclaimed wood from the Missoula Mercantile. Greenhouse is also one of the state’s only Clean Green Certified dispensaries, an industry certification recognizing organic and sustainable practices. Greenhouse uses nematodes and ladybugs in lieu of pesticides, Purcell said, and plans to keep its edibles sugar- and dairy-free—just as soon as they find the right baker for the job.
“You’re not going to see edibles [here] until we can find that happy medium,” Purcell said, adding that the shop’s primary focus is the non-psychotropic cannabis compound CBD.
As Greenhouse’s grand opening afternoon wore on, several young people stopped in brimming with questions about dosages and the vape cartridges advertised on the shop’s chalkboard menu. When the shop was empty again, Purcell and Monahan began talking about phase two: a community space for events aimed at broadening Missoula’s understanding of cannabis. Purcell already has her mother’s book club on the schedule next spring, having spoken to the group about medical marijuana this fall.
“Here’s the Silver Tsunami coming in with arthritis and fibromyalgia … but none of them even knew about CBD,” Purcell said. “They didn’t know they could use a lotion or a salve. It’s not just about smoking weed.”