After voters said “No” to recreational adult-use dispensaries last week, Billings City Council talked about marijuana again Monday night at their regular meeting.
Nothing is set in stone yet, because there will be another reading of the ordinances before final decisions are made.
Some of the public comments favored restrictions on the marijuana business.
“We know that with the vote of the public, we know that recreational, we don’t have to think about,” a Billings local said.
“In 2010 or ’11, there was a recreational marijuana shop that opened up on Grand, next to another one that’s still open, and it’s in the city of Billings, and it should have never been there,” another Billings local said.
Council members discussed allowing a total of 8 medical marijuana dispensaries inside the city, instead of 4. They also agreed on 1000 foot setbacks from churches, schools, parks, and behavioral health centers. They’ll be in the industrial and heavy commercial zones of the city.
City Attorney Karen Tracy said medical dispensaries in city limits will not sell both medical, and recreational marijuana to medical card holders. It will be medical only.
“You have to be in a green county to be a medical marijuana dispensary that can sell adult use,” Tracy said.
HB 701 gave medical marijuana dispensaries an 18 month period to sell medical, and recreational cannabis when the law goes into effect on January 1st.
But Billings City officials say that doesn’t apply here.
Tracy says because Billings voters decided against adult-use dispensaries last week, Yellowstone County is not a “green” county, where recreational sales are allowed everywhere in county lines.
Therefore, dispensaries in Billings will only sell medical marijuana. The state law only applies to counties where recreational cannabis storefronts are legal across the whole county.
“We are a brown county now, so our voters have said “no” to recreational marijuana sales within city limits,” Tracy said.
Medical dispensary licenses will be given out via a lottery system in Billings. The city will start taking applications for those on starting January 1st.
The city hopes to have all their framework for the marijuana program set up by January 31st, 2022.