Marijuana Leaf
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In yesterday’s municipal elections, the residents of West Yellowstone spoke loud and clear: They still do not want pot shops in town.

According to Gallatin County election results, 240 West Yellowstone residents voted to keep an existing ban in place, while 128 wanted to overturn it. The ban applies not only to retail stores, but grow operations, manufacturing facilities and other related businesses. 

In Yellowstone County, the small town of Broadview voted 41-7 to similarly prohibit marijuana businesses within its borders.

In 2020, residents of Gallatin County — where West Yellowstone is situated — voted in favor of cannabis legalization. Per subsequent legislation passed by the 2021 Legislature, any county where a majority of residents supported legalization had a green-light to permit recreational sales. Any county (or town within a county) could also vote to ban sales.

In 2022, West Yellowstone did just that. During that year’s local elections, 219 residents voted in favor of a measure to ban recreational cannabis businesses; 194 residents voted to continue to permit sales.

This November’s re-vote was fueled by a belief that the language in the original ban ordinance was confusing. 

“I looked at how they wrote [last year’s measure] and I thought, ‘Well, that’s not very understandable,’” former mayor Jerry Johnson, who spearheaded this year’s re-vote, told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Currently, Lone Peak Cannabis’ outpost on Targhee Pass Highway — which operates out of a converted shipping container — remains the closest cannabis retailer to West Yellowstone. 

Per state law, residents can again attempt to reverse the ban next year.


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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.