This article was published with permission from Fat Nugs Magazine.
In 2020, I read the book Pot Doc, A Physician’s Search for the Holy Grail of Medical Marijuana by Michael Geci, MD about his journey into the Montana medical cannabis industry. It was my first time learning about Montana’s cannabis culture, the people who were fighting for legalization, the journey to get there, and how the state’s medical program was almost wiped away.
Montana’s cannabis legalization journey was a wild one in my opinion. I was glued to the book and decided then that I would travel Montana to cover the people, the stories, the industry, and overall culture.
Starting The Montana Cannabis Tour
Fast forward to 2023, a LinkedIn post by James Stephens, one of the owners of Sinful Beverages, that read:
“I am looking to sponsor a cannabis writer and sampler to roam the wilds of Montana and explore each of the regions (Flathead, Missoula / Bitterroot, Helena / Greatfalls, Bozeman, and Billings) and write articles this spring.
Still working on the details but starting the organization now for a launch of this and a whole series of cannabis-related engagements and courses for this spring.”
I commented that I’d love to collaborate on this with Fat Nugs Magazine. Within a week we were on a call, and on that call, the planning of the tour commenced. Covering Montana’s cannabis scene is important, covering Montana’s history is important, and covering Montana’s travel scene is important. Here’s a little insight into the why’s.
The Road to Montana’s Cannabis Legalization
Decriminalization of cannabis in the United States started in the 1970s with Oregon. In the late 90s, medical cannabis legalization started in California. In 2004, Montana became one of the 11 states at the time in the U.S, that legalized medical cannabis.
Their journey to stay there was a challenging one.
In 2011, Montana faced an entire overhaul in their medical cannabis program through SB 423, a thinly-disguised repeal bill:
- Cultivators could not assist more than three patients, and could not receive any compensation from them.
- The state medical board was required to audit any doctor who recommended medical marijuana for more than 25 patients a year.
- Testing medical marijuana for safety and potency was illegal.
- Law enforcement officers could enter any provider’s location, even in private homes, to conduct a warrantless search.
By August 2016, about 93% of medical cannabis patients in Montana lost their access to a medical cannabis provider. Montana residents fought back. Fast forward to January 1, 2021: adult use cannabis is legal!
Montana’s legal cannabis landscape includes the following:
- As of January 1, 2021, adults 21 and over may possess and use up to one ounce of marijuana with no criminal penalties (public consumption is not allowed).
- Adults may cultivate up to two mature marijuana plants and two seedlings for private use in a private residence, subject to certain restrictions. The plants may not be visible to the public.
- A licensed recreational marijuana provider and licensed medical marijuana dispensary may operate in a shared location.
Montana's History and Interesting Facts
Montana in Spanish is: Montañas, and montañas translated in English means: mountains. According to the United States Board on Geographic Names; there are at least 2,991 mountains in the state of Montana. But Montana is more than just mountains.
Check out these interesting facts about Montana:
- Montana’s nickname is the treasure state/ big sky country, and motto is: oro y plata; translated that means gold and silver, because of Montana’s large gold and silver mines.
- 8 of the United States National Parks are in Montana, with the very first one established in Montana: Yellowstone National Park.
- Montana is the 4th largest state in the country.
- They say one can have a tropical vacation in Montana and that it is a nature lovers paradise.
- The first woman voted into Congress happened in 1916 and it was because of Montana.
Stay tuned for more from Montana cannabis!
Fat Nugs Under Big Skies Montana Cannabis Tour
Both brands; the Traveling Cannabis Writer and Fat Nugs Magazine are passionate about covering the legacy industry and culture. Traveling the country in the name of cannabis and putting minorities and communities impacted by prohibition in headlines is my main focus. Fat Nugs Magazine is a place where you'll find true nug-lovers who think, eat, smoke, sleep and live cannabis culture. Both brands are for the culture and together, we will bring to light the hidden gems in Montana.
Fat Nugs Under Big Skies: The Montana Cannabis Tour, kicks off on 4/20 in Missoula, MT. First stop, the 4th Annual 420 Block Party + Dispensary Tour of Missoula by Montana’s HempFest, sponsored by Sinful Beverages.
The full Fat Nugs Under Big Skies tour will be in the June issue of Fat Nugs Magazine, with some sneak peeks along the way via social media. Stay in the know by connecting with Fat Nugs on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Also, stay tuned for audio coverage about the tour on Your Highness Podcast, "Where in the World is Vee" travel segment narrated by Dom Hart; and my sit down with Destination Elevated to chat about my summertime travel plans. Montana is just the start!
Special Thanks to Cannabis Business Sponsor Weedgets
Weedgets is a creator of cannabis accessories designed to eliminate the harshness of smoke. Visit www.weedgets.com and use discount code HS420. Honeysuckle Magazine readers get 20% off their purchase.
Veronica Castillo is the Traveling Cannabis Writer from Miami, with a pre-cannabis and psychedelics background in insurance and human resources. Currently, she is a resident of the road covering cannabis, psychedelics, and plant-based lifestyles all over the U.S and soon abroad. Follow her journey on IG at @vee_travelingvegcannawriter and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vee-traveling-veg-canna-writer/
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Featured image: Courtesy of Shutterstock / Cannabis Business Executive