A new law going into effect Jan. 1 will be blazing a new trail for Montana cannabis dispensaries.

House Bill 701 takes effect at the start of the new year, legalizing adult-use recreational marijuana sales in the Big Sky state. The measure resulted from a successful ballot initiative during the 2020 general election.

In Flathead County, the new law will give marijuana-related businesses the freedom to operate just like any other business, according to County Commissioner Randy Brodehl.

Likewise, in Whitefish, marijuana businesses will be allowed in all business and industrial zones, as long as they’re 500 feet away from churches, synagogues, or public schools. Businesses selling cannabis must also observe a 150-foot buffer from each other to avoid clustering.

Kalispell is taking a more restrictive approach. A contentious debate in the City Council led to marijuana businesses being limited to the city’s industrial zones. City council members discussed allowing marijuana businesses in all of the city’s business and industrial zones before an amendment by Mayor Mark Johnson relegated the cultivation, manufacture and sale of marijuana to the city’s industrial zones.

A 300-foot buffer is

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