Legit at Last: Montana’s Long and Winding Road to Legal Medical Marijuana

Roughly 30 medical marijuana providers groan in unison as the proctor leading the workshop on the state’s new tracking system opens another sub-menu.

The system is called “Metrc” (pronounced “metric”). It’s a private cloud-based service first deployed by supply-chain management firm Franwell in December 2013. That’s when Colorado regulators found themselves suddenly responsible for tracking and testing in a newly legal recreational marijuana market that had previously operated underground for decades. Since then, eight other states have signed contracts to track the legalized manufacture and sale of medical and recreational cannabis with Metrc. Montana, with 22,213 patients and 611 providers, is the latest.

“Metrc does everything you are required to do by the state,” the proctor tells the crowd. For many attendees, the realities of regulation are just setting in.

Though medical marijuana has been legal in Montana since 2004, the ballot language that legalized it contained little in the way of regulatory guidance, leading to a decade and a half of federal raids, courtroom dramas and legislative battles. The end result, at long last, is a responsible system, but substantially more logistical labor for providers. The gardeners must become bureaucrats.

Another submenu, another groan. This tab is for tracking home deliveries to patients, and requires providers to enter turn-by-turn directions to their destination, estimated time of arrival, make, model and license number of the transport vehicle, employee’s name, driver’s license number and Metrc ID number, as well as a manifest of the marijuana product being delivered, which itself is tracked by radio frequency identification tags that migrate from seed to sale to ensure a documented chain of custody. All to drive some cookies down the street.

missoula cover

Many of the providers in the Wingate Hotel conference room near the Missoula airport are over 50, and some have never before used a computer in their role as providers. To go from bare-bones regulation to tracking with radio waves and the internet is a shock.

Kylea Rusch laughs dryly near the back of the room.

“If you’re shaking your head now, you better get out while you can,” she says under her breath.

Rusch has been in the medical marijuana business since 2013 and provides for roughly 150 mostly elderly patients at her Missoula-based dispensary, Ganja Goddess. She had more than 500 patients before a three-patient limit briefly torpedoed the industry in the summer of 2016, leaving 93 percent of patients without a provider. Her dispensary used to be a node of a statewide provider network called Montana Buds, until that consortium’s leadership in Bozeman was raided that same summer and indicted by the feds for selling under the table.

By the admission of the presiding federal judge, the Montana Buds-related cases revealed so many gray areas in the state’s medical marijuana law that it was impossible to follow.

“I don’t like gray areas,” Rusch says. “I like black and white.”

Rusch had to shut down her operation when the patient limit went into effect, but she reopened in December 2016 after Initiative 182 passed on the November ballot, removing the limit, rewriting the broken law, and requiring the Montana Department of Health and Human Services to establish the tracking and testing infrastructure now manifest in Metrc.

Rusch says she’s excited for the legitimacy the new system will bring to Montana’s medical marijuana industry, and she’s been testing and internally tracking her products for months in preparation. The fact that the state chose a system used nationwide and in much larger markets gives her peace of mind, too, even if she’ll have to spend a lot more time at a terminal.

“It’s kind of a pain in the butt, but we finally have a system in place,” Rusch says.

Go big or go home

If dispensaries the current size of Ganja Goddess are to succeed, they’ll have to either grow or shrink dramatically. Providers with 10 patients or fewer pay a $1,000 annual licensing fee and are exempt until 2020 from sending their marijuana products to private testing facilities, which charge between $300 and $700 per five pounds. Larger providers — typically multi-city networks — can defray those costs through sheer volume.

According to the Montana Cannabis Industry Association, a political lobbying group for providers, licensing and testing costs that don’t adjust equitably for provider size are going to force mid-sized providers — those serving between 11 and 200 patients — out of business.

According to a Feb. 7 MCIA white paper, “The rules filed by DPHHS will steer the program towards a provider market that consists of hundreds of providers with 10 patients or less and 10-30 very large providers, most likely with several locations throughout the state.”

The health department added a new provider tier on Feb. 9 that halved the annual fee for providers serving 11 to 49 cardholders to $2,500. Final rules are scheduled to be released in April. I-182 called for a tiered approach to licensing based on canopy size (50 square feet of garden per patient), but due to legislative tinkering in the 2017 session and health department interpretations, that hasn’t come to pass.

Marijuana bud
Source: unsplash.com

Bobby Long, owner of Missoula’s Flower dispensary, says private labs successfully lobbied the Legislature for excessive testing under the guise of patient safety, requiring providers to raise the price of their product to cover the testing costs.

Long says that Metrc and the taxation and fee system the state is implementing is designed for a volume typically associated with lucrative recreational marijuana sales, not a small medical market like Montana’s.

Flower is the largest dispensary in the county, according to Long (he doesn’t reveal patient numbers for security reasons), and has enough patients to weather the new fees and regulatory expenses. Long attributes Flower’s position to closely following the news and expanding at the right time.

“Less than 2 percent of the population of Missoula County is a medical patient and potential customer. And since patients can only purchase from one dispensary, that 2 percent is broken up between over 60 providers. That’s not a lot to go around,” Long says.

Missoula may be praised and derided as Montana’s hippie city, but Bozeman is the state’s medical marijuana capital. With more than 150 providers and 4,400 patients, Gallatin County’s medical marijuana market is twice the size of Missoula County’s, which lags behind even Flathead and Yellowstone counties, based on the latest available data.

One aspiring Gallatin mega-dispensary following the expand-or-die ethos is Spark1, which has Bozeman and Belgrade locations, and a shiny new Missoula dispensary on East Broadway in the building recently vacated by the Indian Grill.

The cold-storage locker where edibles are stored still smells of curry, and signs on the fresh drywall warn that paint is still drying, but manager Shelly Hall-Crobar says the toilet in the new ADA-compliant bathroom now flushes, and the dispensary has been open since a soft launch on Feb. 2.

Hall-Crobar had been at the Metrc training the day before, and felt bad for some of the medium-sized providers, who were clearly fed up by the end of the day.

“These guys are going to have to go smaller or work to get bigger. It sucks,” she says.

Spark1 has grown quickly. Since incorporating in December, Hall-Crobar says, the dispensary has expanded its business to provide for 323 patients. Business is booming. But there’s always the possibility that the Trump administration could bring it all crashing down.

What happens in D.C.

In January, Attorney General Jeff Sessions retracted Obama-era guidelines that instructed the Department of Justice not to prosecute medical and recreational marijuana growers who follow state law, leading some observers to anticipate a federal crackdown. That hasn’t happened yet, and Hall-Crobar and other providers think there’s little political will to go after such popular programs, especially in medical marijuana states.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox and U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana Kurt Alme have avoided the question of whether or not they would defend or indict, respectively, Montanans following the state’s medical marijuana laws.

If Sessions were to go after Montana’s medical marijuana program, he’d first have to get Congress to repeal the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, a law passed in 2014, and annually appended since to a trillion-dollar omnibus spending bill, that bans the DOJ from funding federal prosecution of people following their state’s medical marijuana law.

Whether Rohrabacher-Farr survives will be known only after the U.S. House of Representatives finally passes a budget. Every time it passes a provisional spending bill to prevent a government shutdown for another week or two — as the House has done eight times now — Rohrabacher-Farr protections continue.

Source: unsplash.com

Even if the House fails to extend the amendment, the Senate already has, and Rohrabacher-Farr could still survive a closed conference committee that reconciles differences between the chambers’ bills. If not, patients and providers would become as vulnerable to federal indictment as the legal adult-use marijuana industry is now.

According to montanastatecannabis.org, the medical marijuana program in Montana is finally regulated. Hence, the Rohrabacher defense, if retained, might have a chance to work as intended. When a defendant in the Montana Buds-related cases tried to show the court last year that he had followed Montana law, thus precluding prosecution by the DOJ, the judge agreed that the man had done his best. Even so, the judge found Montana’s law to be so vague that it effectively couldn’t be followed. The defendant accepted a plea deal.

There was not even a firm definition of how much medical marijuana a Montana provider was allowed to have on hand. The law was that bad, and had been for years.

Boom and bust

In 2004, cannabis crusader Tom Daubert and a group of like-minded advocates authored a bare-bones citizens initiative to legalize medical marijuana in Montana. It passed, but the business it spawned puttered along with fewer than 1,000 patients for years, punctuated with occasional busts of small providers who went astray of the law.

Then, in 2009, two things happened that opened the door to the industry’s expansion. One was that the Obama administration issued the Ogden memo (which Sessions recently retracted) directing the DOJ not to pursue indictments against patients and providers operating in accordance with state law, thus allowing those patients and providers to participate in state medical marijuana programs without fear.

The other catalyst was Jason Christ’s “cannabis caravans.” Christ was a marijuana evangelist and head of the Montana Caregivers Network who heralded himself as “an active provocateur” with a mission “akin to that of Harvey Milk and the Gay Rights Movement in San Francisco in the 1970s.”

Christ smoked weed in the streets of many Montana cities, in his Missoula offices, on the capitol lawn and in the University of Montana law school, which got him banned from campus. He attracted media attention, almost always negative, wherever he went. He frequently filed lawsuits, or was a defendant in lawsuits, involving the state, his employers and his competitors.

The Montana Caregivers Network (later known as CannabisCare and Care+) connected pro-marijuana doctors with hundreds of eager potential patients (each paying $150 for a consultation) at one-day mobile clinics that traveled from city to city. Christ shut down the caravans in July 2010 after complaints by legislators and the Board of Medical Examiners that patients were being rubber-stamped without receiving a proper medical examination.

Christ said the caravans made him a million dollars. He soon partnered with dispensaries to host doctors, as well as teleconferences with potential patients.

In December 2008, Montana had 842 medical marijuana cardholders. It’s hard to quantify exactly how much Christ alone jumpstarted the market, but enrollment peaked in May 2011 at 31,522 patients, and Christ later told a state judge that his organization had registered more than 30,000 cardholders.

Raid and repeal?

The Montana Legislature was in session in 2011, and reaction to the boom among conservative lawmakers was immediate. Instead of improving Montana’s shoddy medical marijuana law, legislators tried to repeal it. The same day that medical marijuana opponents learned they didn’t have the votes for a full repeal, federal agents executed 26 search warrants against medical marijuana facilities in 13 Montana cities and towns.

With no Rohrabacher amendment yet on the books to deploy in providers’ defense, the defendants were legally helpless.

marijuana in jars
photo by Cathrine L. Walters

In 2011, Daubert was federally indicted in a high-profile lawsuit consequent to a federal raid on a large dispensary network called Montana Cannabis, which Daubert had helped found.

Daubert was sentenced to five years of probation after accepting a plea deal in 2012. The Montana Cannabis cases are featured in the 2012 documentary Code of the West. He now lives in the Philadelphia suburbs and is no longer involved with medical marijuana. Daubert did not respond to a request for comment.

One of his partners, Chris Williams, facing 85 years in prison, fought the federal charges and was saved only by the grace of the federal prosecutor, who dropped the charges post-conviction to avoid making Williams a martyr for the movement.

Williams is currently working with a reporter on a national story, and not otherwise granting interviews until its release, but he told the Indy last July, “I’m happy that my life moves on, and I made the best of my time in prison. I can still say I made the right decision and fought for what is right.”

Another Montana Cannabis partner, Richard Flor, accepted a plea deal and died in federal custody after allegedly being denied appropriate medical care. His family sued.

The 2011 raids scared off plenty of patients and providers, but the Legislature provided the coup de grace.

Failing to repeal Montana’s medical marijuana law, lawmakers managed to neuter it into uselessness by banning providers from accepting payment for marijuana and limiting them to three patients each, among other changes. The law went into effect July 1, making Montana the first and only state to essentially repeal its medical marijuana program. Cardholder enrollment plummeted, and dispensaries began to close. The MCIA immediately sued for injunctive relief, eventually getting the payment ban repealed and keeping the patient limit tied up in court and off the books until the summer of 2016.

The program survived, but with the pro-marijuana lobby busy in court, there was no momentum to improve the law, and the gray areas that had been present since 2004 continued to fester until 2016. While Montana waited, other states began legalizing recreational marijuana, and the DOJ released the Cole memo, instructing states to regulate new businesses or have their proprietors face federal indictment.

The Rohrabacher amendment put patient protections on the books in 2014, and by the time Montana’s patient limit finally became law in summer 2016, nearly destroying the program, the MCIA had organized I-182. The initiative passed shortly thereafter, albeit with a typo in the activation date that required a brief lawsuit before the law was enacted as intended.

When the Legislature met in 2017, the chance for repeal had vanished. America had adopted marijuana while Montana wasn’t looking.

Revolutionaries to lobbyists

The industry has changed its image. Medical marijuana advocates are no longer ideologues trying to start a cannabis revolution, but entrepreneurs trying to make an honest buck and help patients.

Despite the rebranding, the effect of Montana’s new well-regulated medical marijuana system is the same as the first boom from 2009 to 2011: a steep rise in the number of cardholders and dispensaries, though this time without the public outcry. After years of defending restrictions in court and two successful voter initiatives, there’s not much fight left among opponents and repealers.

On its face, Montana’s latest medical marijuana boom may look similar to the state’s first pot rush, but it is distinctly different. New dispensaries are popping up around the state as before, but they are now heavily monitored, not essentially unregulated.

There’s been a similar spike in the number of cardholders, but there’s also been an increase in the number of applicable health conditions approved for treatment with medical marijuana, opening the program to more people than ever.

A handful of doctors are still responsible for recommending the vast majority of patients to the program, but they aren’t campaigning across the state in audacious caravans, and medical examination via teleconference has been banned.

Based on the state health department’s most recent data, from November, of the 224 Montana doctors who have recommended patients for medical marijuana cards, just 13 account for 92 percent of the state’s 21,881 patients. One physician has recommended more than 6,300 patients. The two physicians with the next-highest counts recommended roughly 4,200 and 3,300 patients, respectively.

That’s not far from the count of libertarian doctor Chris Christensen, who told the Billings Gazette in 2010 that he had signed up more than 3,000 patients — roughly 15 percent of all patients in the state at the time. Christensen was one of many doctors upset with the cannabis caravans enrolling masses of patients for cash, despite his own high referral rate.

“We have reached the point in Montana where medical marijuana certification is for sale with a physician’s signature,” Christensen said at a 2010 meeting of the Montana Board of Medical Examiners.

State prosecutors would later charge the Bitterroot physician with 400 felonies for over-prescribing opiates, leading to overdoses, two of them fatal. He was found guilty in November of two counts of negligent homicide, nine counts of criminal endangerment, and 11 counts of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs, and sentenced earlier this month to a decade in prison, though he is free awaiting appeal to the Montana Supreme Court

marijuana plants under grow light
photo by Cathrine L. Walters

Christensen, Daubert, Flor, Williams — the high-profile old guard of Montana’s first medical marijuana boom and bust — are gone. They’ve either died in custody, effectively vanished after prosecution, in prison, or quietly recovering after serving federal drug sentences.

As for Christ, he was convicted of felony intimidation for threatening to bomb the Verizon Wireless store on South Reserve in 2010, and in 2013 was given a five-year deferred sentence.

At his sentencing hearing, Christ said he no longer used marijuana, was living out of his car, and planned to attend a bible college in Redding, California, and reconnect with his adult son. Christ has not made headlines since. He could not be reached for comment.

How to register as a medical marijuana patient in Montana

• Visit with an MD or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, who can ensure that you qualify under state law. Montana law allows cards for chronic pain and certain debilitating conditions. A chronic pain diagnosis requires medical notes and some form of imaging, such as an X-ray or MRI, or a confirming second opinion from an independent physician. The state’s list of approved debilitating conditions can be found at dphhs.mt.gov.

• Choose a licensed provider or opt to grow your own medicine. If you list a provider, you may possess up to 1 ounce of usable cannabis. If you do not list a provider, you may possess up to four mature plants and four seedlings.

• Send your application with physician’s statement and a copy of your state-issued ID to the state Department

of Health and Human Services with the $5 application fee. Cash is not accepted. Forms are available at dphhs.mt.gov.

• Cards will be mailed to approved patients, and must be presented to provider to receive medicine. Cards are valid for one year.

—Micah Drew

Words of weed-dom

A glossary of medical marijuana terminology

If you’re unfamiliar with the medical marijuana scene or have only recently embarked on that whole card-getting process, there are probably a few terms that have you scratching your head. No biggie. It’s a sprawling lexicon, the kind that’s bound to produce a few “duh-huh?” moments. So here’s a by-no-means-exhaustive roundup of definitions to help you get started.

Buds: The flowers of a marijuana plant. They are harvested for use in either cannabis-infused products or for smoking.

CBD: Short for cannabidiol. One of scores of active compounds in cannabis, CBD’s popularity in the medical marijuana community is surging, largely due to it having fewer psychoactive effects than THC (we’ll get to that in a minute).

Concentrates: Dissolved extracts containing concentrated amounts of certain cannabis compounds. Can come in a variety of forms including oils, waxes and resins.

Dab: The act of dropping cannabis concentrates on a hot surface and inhaling the vapor. This method of ingestion has become increasingly popular in recent years.

Dispensary: A state-licensed business that is allowed to grow and sell limited amounts of marijuana to registered medical marijuana patients in Montana.

DPHHS: The Department of Health and Human Services, a branch of Montana state government that administers the medical marijuana program. This is where you send your paperwork if you want a green card.

Edibles: Cannabis-infused food items, sometimes sold at dispensaries. Think candies, cookies, brownies and other snacks. Warning: can be extremely potent.

Glass: Slang term for a glass pipe used to smoke marijuana buds. Available at head shops and some dispensaries.

I-182: A 2016 ballot initiative, passed by 291,334 Montana voters, that repealed a number of restrictive laws on medical marijuana and expanded access across the state.

Joint: A marijuana cigarette. Sold by some dispensaries and often called a “pre-roll.”

MIPP: Marijuana Infused Products Provider, as defined by state law. These are the folks legally registered to manufacture and provide all marijuana-infused products.

Provider: A Montana resident over the age of 18 who is authorized by the state to grow and provide marijuana to registered patients.

Strain: A specific variety of cannabis plant with its own unique combination of compounds. Could be pure or the product of cross-breeding multiple strains, known as a hybrid. Comes with groovy names like Willy’s Wonder, Cherry Pie and Purple Haze.

THC: Short for tetrahydrocannabinol. The most renowned compound in cannabis, THC is responsible for most of marijuana’s psychoactive effects. Not to be confused with the heavy metal band Texas Hippie Coalition.

Tincture: Liquid cannabis extract that is often ingested orally via dropper and is absorbed quickly. Can also be mixed into a drink.

Vape: The act of consuming either a cannabis bud or cannabis-infused oil through a device called a vaporizer, which heats the substance to produce vapor. Said to be healthier than smoking since there’s no actual smoke.

—Alex Sakariassen

A directory of Missoula-area dispensaries

Source: unsplash.com

Missoula’s medical marijuana scene, in case you hadn’t noticed, is maturing. New dispensaries are opening and old ones are expanding, and all of them are coming into compliance with long-overdue new state regs that mark the end of the industry’s Wild West roots. Read “Legitimate at Last” (pg. 3) to find out how we got from here to there, and then browse the following pages, where you’ll find a directory of area dispensaries.

A note on the directory: We called every area dispensary we could find and asked about their business. Information about their “most popular strains and top-sellers” and “specialties” are drawn from the dispensaries’ own self-descriptions, and should not be considered exhaustive. If a category of information is missing from a dispensary’s entry, it’s because the dispensary declined to share that information. Finally, the directory itself, despite our best efforts, is not complete. Several registered dispensaries and individual providers declined to respond to multiple contacts seeking information. We’re sorry not to be able to include them here.

Apogee Gardens

Address: No storefront; delivery only.

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Website: apogeegardens.com

Phone: 406-647-2128

Most popular strains and top-sellers: Pink Love, Bubble Dawg

Formats: Flowers, concentrates, oils, tinctures, hard candies, gummies, suckers, infused coconut oil

Specialties: Apogee Gardens just won the Concentrate Cannabis Cup, so “We think we’re one of the best concentrate sellers in the state.” Everything is organic and vegan. Will soon be releasing suppositories, the “most medicinal way at this time to take cannabis.”

Delivery: Missoula and Bitterroot Valley

Awesome Blossom

Address: 1420 W. Broadway St., Missoula

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat.-Sun. Noon-4 p.m.

Website: awesomeblossommt.com

Phone: 890-2420

Open since: The Kalispell location has been open a year. The Missoula location has been open for several months.

Most popular strains and top-sellers: Dawg Waltz, Blueberry

Formats: Flowers, salves, edibles, pre-rolls, concentrates

ATM on premise: No

Delivery: No

Big Sky Herbals and Edibles

Address: 1637 Idaho St., Missoula

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Website: bigskyherbals.com

Phone: 926-1222

Open since: 2004

Most popular strains and top-sellers: Granddaddy Purple, Sour Diesel, Sour Blueberry

Formats: Flower, tinctures, edibles, drinks, CBD oil

Specialties: Discreet location, personal service, friendly environment

ATM on premise: No

Delivery: Yes, limited

The Coffee Joint

Address: 401 N. Russell, Missoula

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9:45 a.m.-5:45 p.m., Sat. noon-4 p.m., closed Sun.

Website: thecoffeejointmt.com

Phone: 848-4420

Open since: Established 2008. Formerly Green Bean Coffee Shop.

Most popular strains and top-sellers: Green Crack, Mr. Nice, Granddaddy Purple, and Alien Hallucination.

Formats: According to owner Guy Silvernale, “Everything besides suppositories and patches. And we’re working on the suppositories.”

Specialities: The Coffee Joint has its own licensed extraction lab to produce concentrates. It also offers a “get your card free” promotion that credits new patients the cost of their physician appointment. Oh, and the shop has coffee.

ATM on premise: No. But the Coffee Joint accepts most forms of payment, including credit cards.

Delivery: Maybe. Case by case, depending on patient circumstance.

Cotton’s Cannabis Club

Address: 304 Ridgeway Dr., Lolo

Hours: Tues.-Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. 12 p.m.-3 p.m.

Website: none

Phone: 406-218-1073

Open since: 2004

Most popular strains and top-sellers: Blue Boy, WTF, Granddaddy Purple

Formats: Flower

Specialties: Flower quality, customer service

ATM on premise: No

Delivery: Exclusively

Fat Hippie LLC

Address: 714 Juniper Dr., Seeley Lake

Hours: daily, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Website: facebook.com/FatHippiellc/

Phone: 406-207-5672

Open since: two months ago

Most popular strains and top-sellers: Blue Dream and Gorilla Glue

Formats: Flowers, concentrates, butter

Specialties: Owner says, “We’re just a small provider and we have time to know our patients and do deliveries. I just kind of try to get personal with people.”

ATM on premise: No

Delivery: Yes, as far away as Billings

Flower (Higgins Avenue)

Address: 133 N. Higgins Ave., Missoula

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Website: facebook.com/FlowerMMJ

Phone: 406-541-0420

Open since: January 2017; providing since 2007

Most popular strains and top-sellers: Blue Cookies, Montana Silvertip, Lemon Skunk

Formats: Flower, edibles, tinctures, capsules, RSO, salves, topicals, concentrates, vape cartridges, shatter, live resin, distillates

Specialties: Premium CBD line, flower, highest-testing concentrates in the state

ATM on premise: Yes

Delivery: No

Flower (Brooks Street)

Address: 2710 Brooks St. #2, Missoula

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Website: facebook.com/FlowerMMJ

Phone: 406-541-0420

Open since: Jan 2017; providing since 2007

Most popular strains and top-sellers: Blue Cookies, Montana Silvertip, Lemon Skunk

Formats: Flower, edibles, tinctures, capsules, RSO, salves, topicals, concentrates, vape cartridges, shatter, live resin, distillates

Specialties: Premium CBD line, flower, highest-testing concentrates in the state

ATM on premise: Yes

Delivery: No, but does have a drive-thru

Ganja Goddess

Address: 801 Ronan St. #3, Missoula

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Website: ganjagoddessmt.com

Phone: 406-203-2204

Open since: 2013

Most popular strains and top-sellers: Pure Kush, OG Kush, Pineapple Express, Power Diesel

Formats: Edibles, tinctures, oils, vape cartridges, flower

Specialties: High-CBD strains and CBD-infused products. Fifty strains grown in-house.

ATM on premise: No

Delivery: Yes

Garden Mother Herbs

Address: 904 Kensington Ave., Ste. A, Missoula

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., closed Sun.

Website: gardenmotherherbs.com

Phone: 406-529-3834

Open since: 2009

Most popular strains and top-sellers: Jack Herer, Chocolate Thai, Cinderella 99, Gorilla G#4, Chocolate Mint, Sugar Black Rose, New York Purple Diesel and Kava Fudge.

Formats: Flower, edibles, topicals, capsules, butter, oil, suppositories and tinctures.

Specialties: Capsicum salve, Restful Muscle Relaxing tincture, Suppositories and Canna-Drops (non-alcohol version of tincture)

ATM on premise: No

Delivery: Yes

Green Alternative

Address: 314 North 1st St. W., Missoula

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-4 p.m., closed Sunday

Website: facebook.com/GreenAlternativeMT/

Phone: 406-926-2580

Open since: 2009

Most popular strains and top-sellers: Blueberry, Black Afghan, Serious Happiness, OG Ghost Train Haze

Formats: Flower, tinctures, double distillate topical cannabalm, edibles

Specialties: All-organic, reasonably priced edibles

ATM on premise: Yes

Delivery: To homebound patients

Greener Pastures

Address: 900 Strand Ave., Missoula

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Website: greenerpastures.com/missoula

Phone: 406-370-7186

Open since: September 2017

Most popular strains and top-sellers: Golden Goat, Very Berry, Montana Silvertip

Formats: Tinctures, edibles, flower, vape pens, resins, CBD topicals

Specialties: Organically grown; edibles menu changes seasonally

ATM on premise: No

Delivery: Coming soon

Greenhouse Farmacy

Address: 1541 S. 3rd St. W., Missoula

Hours: Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m.

Website: greenhousefarmacy.com

Phone: 926-6420

Open since: November 2017

Most popular strains and top-sellers: Montana Silvertip, Blue Dream and 9 Pound Hammer.

Formats: Flowers, concentrates, vape cartridges, topical sprays, tinctures, live resin, some edibles.

Specialties: A focus on CBD products. Co-owner Brian Monahan says Greenhouse Farmacy is one of the few dispensaries in the state that carries Charlotte’s Web-brand products, a line of extract-based dietary supplements developed in Colorado.

ATM on premise: Yes

Delivery: Yes, for now

marijuana plants
photo by Cathrine L. Waltersphoto by Cathrine L. Walters

Heirloom Remedies

Address: 1771 US Highway 93 N., Victor

Hours: Tue.-Fri. noon-6 p.m., Sat. noon-3 p.m., closed Sun.-Mon.

Website: heirloomremediesmt.com

Phone: 406-802-4211

Open since: May 2017

Most popular strains and top-sellers: Customers like that they do a pesticide-free closed grow

Formats: Flower, edibles, tinctures, topicals, CBD products (including for pets), cartridges

Specialties: Pesticide-free closed grow. Tincture is a proprietary blend of three medicinal strains. Yoga classes and massage on-site.

ATM on premise: No

Delivery: Limited

Hydrocare LLC

Address: 2825 Stockyard Road, Ste. A-20, Missoula

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Website: none

Phone: 406-777-7377

Open since: 2008

Most popular strains and top-sellers: CBD strains: Black Cherry Soda, Granddaddy Purp, Pineapple Express

Formats: Flowers, tinctures, salves, capsules, hard candy, chocolates, CBD cream, gummies, rosin, extract

Specialties: A proprietary strain called Addy’s Armour, named after a 3-year-old girl whose malignant glioma was reportedly reduced after using the strain.

ATM on premise: No

Delivery: Yes, in Missoula area and Bitterroot Valley

Lionheart Caregiving

Address: 2007 Brooks St., Missoula

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat. noon-5 p.m., Sun. noon-4 p.m.

Website: lionheartcaregiving.com

Phone: 855-546-2837

Open since: 2007

Most popular strains and top-sellers: Lionheart OG, Montana Silvertip and Blueberry OG.

Formats: Infused products including tinctures, edibles and dabbables. Also bath salts, chapstick, pre-rolls and flowers.

Specialities: A focus on bud variety, with more than 60 different strains available. Through April 21, Lionheart offers patients $50 sign-up and referral bonuses that can be used on any product in the store.

ATM on premise: Yes

Delivery: Yes, for now, though state rules going into effect in mid-March may change that.

Missoula Cannabis Caregivers

Address: 5646 W. Harrier St., Missoula

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat-Sun noon-4 p.m.

Website: kindpollen.com

Phone: 406-359-1420

Open since: 2009

Most popular strains and top-sellers: Stardog Starfighter, Chemodo Dragon, Trinity

Formats: Concentrates, flower, edibles, kombuchas, topicals, vape juice, CBD

Specialties: Low prices, high quality. Caters to veterans, who receive a free eighth-ounce each week.

ATM on premise: Yes

Delivery: No

Montana Medicinals

Address: No storefront; delivery only

Hours: Mon.-Sun. 9 a.m.-8 p.m.

Website: mtmedicinals.com

Phone: 686-1199

Open since: Sept. 1, 2017

Most popular strains and top-sellers: Any CBD-dominant strains.

Formats: Flowers, pre-rolls, vape cartridges, extract oils, tinctures. The company is also preparing to launch a line of edibles developed in partnership with Posh Chocolat’s Jason Willenbrock.

Specialities: Individually customized blends of concentrates for a variety of applications, including tinctures and vape cartridges. Owner Jason Schager is a state-licensed pharmacist, meaning he has a good understanding of how marijuana might interact with other medications.

ATM on premise: No

Delivery: Free delivery statewide.

Montana Preferred Provider

Address: 425 N. 5th St. W., Ste. C, Missoula

HoursMon.-Fri noon-6 p.m., Sat.-Sun. Noon-5 p.m.

Website: montanapreferred.com

Phone: 540-4147

Open since: July 1, 2014

Specialties: Montana Preferred has been in the business for a decade, so they know the terrain.

ATM on premise: No

Delivery: Yes, in the Missoula area

Montana Resin Company

Address: No storefront; delivery only

Hours: Flexible. All day Mon.-Fri., Saturday as needed.

Website: montanaresinco.com

Phone: 369-3945

Open since: 2016, formerly as Kind Genetics

Most popular strains and top-sellers: Nigerian Skunk, Lime One and Blue Doggy Dog.

Formats: According to owner Madison Morgan, “pretty much everything,” including edibles, flowers, resin-based extracts, pre-rolls and tinctures.

Specialities: In addition to delivery, Montana Resin Company will pay for patients’ cards and clinic visits.

ATM on premise: No

Delivery: Yes

Medical Marijuana
photo by Cathrine L. Walters

Address: 1001 N. Russell St., Missoula

Hours: Tues.-Thurs. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Fri. 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Sat.-Sun. noon-4 p.m.

Website: mountainheights.club

Phone: 406-926-1688

Open since: 2017

Most popular strains and top-sellers: Girl Scout Cookies, Granddaddy Purple, Tranquil Elephantizer

Formats: Flower, tinctures, edibles, vape juice and cartridges, concentrate oils and waxes

Specialties: Grown organically. Customer service.

ATM on premise: Yes

Delivery: Yes, on Mondays

Old Wolves Caregiving

Address: 230 Marcus St., Hamilton

Hours: Monday and Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Website: none

Phone: 396-0202

Open since: 2011

Most popular strains and top-sellers: Granddaddy Purp, Purple Lemondrop, Alaskan Thunder, Jacky Blue and Pure Power Plant.

Formats: Flowers, tinctures, dabs, tea bags, suckers, cream cheeses, jello-shooters, creams, infused coconut oil, rice krispie squares.

Specialities: All plants grown at high altitude in the Sapphire Mountains by owner Jungle Joe Pinjuv, a lifelong horticulturist who specializes in crossbreeding his own strains.

ATM on premise: No

Delivery: Maybe. Case by case, depending on patient circumstance.


Address: 2825 Stockyard Rd., Ste. A-9, Missoula

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat.-Sun. noon-4 p.m.

Website: remedymontana.com

Phone: 406-541-8253

Open since: about a year ago

Most popular strains and top-sellers: Rocky Mountain Kush, Blue Widow, Lemon Train Wreck

Formats: salves, flower, rosin, canna capsules, dry sift kief, CBD isolate, pre-rolled joints, cartridges

Specialties: Female-owned. All products grown organically.

ATM on premise: Yes

Delivery: Yes, in Missoula area, with prior arrangement.

Rocky Mountain Relief

Address: No storefront; delivery only

Hours: Flexible. Can deliver as late at 10 p.m. and as early as 7 a.m., depending on schedule.

Website: none

Phone: 544-0995

Open since: early 2017

Most popular strains and top-sellers: Blue Dream, White Widow, Granddaddy Purple, Blueberry and Gorilla Glue.

Formats: Flowers, edibles, tinctures, resin concentrates, joints, suckers, salves, Charlotte’s Web-brand CBD products. Also offers infused coconut oil for patients who want to make their own edibles.

Specialties: Delivery to patients in rural areas, from the Bitterroot Valley to the Flathead. Will also set up and pay for physician appointments, cover state fees and work with patients to ensure treatment matches with other prescribed drugs.

ATM on premise: No. But RMF does accept checks, cash and PayPal.

Delivery: Yes

Frank Murney, aka The Shop

Address: No storefront; delivery only

Hours: Sun.-Sat. 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

Website: none

Phone: 406-214-2889

Open since: 2010

Formats: Capsules, lotions, infused products, edibles, smokeables

Specialties: Infused products

ATM on premise: N/A

Delivery: Exclusively. Serving Missoula and the Bitterroot


Address: 400 E. Broadway St., Missoula

Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Website: spark1mt.com

Phone: 406-926-6611

Open since: February 2018

Most popular strains and top-sellers: Motor Breath, CBD products

Formats: Flower, concentrates, cartridges, edibles, CBD products, tinctures, topicals, CBD products for pets

Specialties: Large concentrate selection, usually more than 20 on hand

ATM on premise: Yes

Delivery: Maybe, depending on patient circumstance


Address: 1323 W. Broadway, Missoula

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. noon-4 p.m., closed Sun.

Website: starrbuds.com

Phone: 926-2092

Open since: January 2017

Most popular strains and top-sellers: Trainwreck, Northern Lights and Dementia.

Formats: Flowers, edibles (cookies, caramels, fudges and hard candies), bubble hash, and pressed rosin and oil cartridges made from their strains.

Specialities: Starrbuds touts exceptional product quality. Prior to opening a storefront, it operated as a delivery-only service since 2008.

ATM on premise: Yes

Delivery: No

Steve’s Montana Sweetgrass Farms

Address: 1510 Bulwer St., Missoula

Hours: Daily, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

Website: none

Phone: 406-203-6219

Open since: 2011

Most popular strains and top-sellers: Granddaddy Purple, Super Silver Haze

Formats: Flower, tinctures, butters, cookies, edibles, candies

Specialties: Customer service and experience

ATM on premise: No

Delivery: Yes

Urban Farmer

Address: 120 South Ave. W., Missoula

Hours: Tues.-Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. 12 p.m.-5 p.m.

Website: urbanfarmermontana.com

Phone: 406-926-1485

Open since: 2017

Most popular strains and top-sellers: Cherry Pie, Jack Herer, Gorilla Glue, Presidential OG, Bubblegum Chem

Formats: Edibles (including gluten-free), extracts, tinctures, topicals, CBDs

Specialties: Urban Farmer is a full-service craft cannabis boutique

ATM on premise: Yes

Delivery: Yes, to the Bitterroot Valley

Zen Medicine

Address: 210 South 3rd St. W., Missoula

Hours: Mon.-Sat. noon-7 p.m., closed Sun.

Website: zenmedicinemt.com

Phone: 406-396-4134

Open since: November 2017

Most popular strains and top-sellers: Bubblegum, Blue Dream, Purple Dragon, Deadhead OG

Formats: Flower, edibles, lozenges, topicals, solventless concentrates, resin, bubble hash, tinctures, RSO

Specialties: Edibles, flower

ATM on premise: No

Delivery: Depending on patient circumstance