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In last Tuesday’s primary election, voters in Granite County banned adult-use cannabis sales within county lines by a margin of 53-47. 

Now Kendrick Richmond, manager of the county’s sole recreational dispensary, in Philipsburg, wants to put the question before voters again, as soon as November. And he’s not wasting any time.

Top Shelf Botanicals manager Kendrick Richmond
Top Shelf Botanicals manager Kendrick Richmond Credit: Courtesy of Kendrick Richmond

Less than a week after the repeal measure passed, county officials have already signed off on the language for Richmond’s own ballot measure, and his signature-gathering campaign is underway.

If Richmond’s measure makes it onto the ballot and passes in November, Granite will become the first Montana county to allow sales, then ban them, then allow them again.

About 55% of eligible voters in Granite County cast a ballot in last week’s election, but Richmond maintains that many residents he has spoken to didn’t know about the repeal measure.

“This is the democratic process in the purest form, right?” Richmond said. “Your vote does count. Look at what happened here.”

SMALL-TOWN POLITICS

To qualify for the ballot, Richmond has to gather signatures from 15% of eligible voters in Granite County — about 375 residents — by Aug. 8. He said he’s already gathered nearly 50, many from customers of the shop he manages, Top Shelf Botanicals, which also sells to medical marijuana customers. 

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He plans to set up an occasional booth on Broadway Street in downtown Philipsburg as well.

Richmond said many of his customers were “shocked” to hear that adult-use sales had been banned, and that he hopes to turn that surprise into momentum.

“By Friday I had the ballot initiative approved by the county attorney, and was getting signatures that evening. All in two days.”

Top Shelf Botanicals manager Kendrick Richmond

“When I tell people we repealed rec[reational], they say, ‘what?’ They didn’t know. Some of them don’t realize it happened or that there was a vote about it,” Richmond said, adding that many people he’s talked with admitted they weren’t registered to vote.

Richmond told Montana Free Press that county officials were helpful as he fine-tuned the language of the initiative.

“We made the ballot language very simple. They interjected just a little bit [on technicalities],” he said. 

“By Friday I had the ballot initiative approved by the county attorney, and was getting signatures that evening. All in two days,” he said. “It’s a testament to being in a smaller town, and that certainly helped our cause.”

Regardless of the outcome of Richmond’s campaign, the ban on recreational sales at his shop will take effect 90 days after county officials certify the results of last week’s election in early September. 

That window, he points out, will allow the shop to “still capture the summer market.” 

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Max Savage Levenson writes "The Sit-Down" column for Montana Free Press. Max is additionally the founder of Big Sky Chat House, a weekly long-form interview newsletter featuring movers and shakers across Montana. His writing on music and cannabis policy has appeared in outlets including Pitchfork, NPR's All Songs Considered, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Reason.