And then there were two...

Second medical marijuana shop opens in Columbus
By: 
Mikaela Koski
Thursday, November 29, 2018

A second medical marijuana business is set to open its doors in Columbus this week.

Montana Advanced Caregivers (M.A.C.) has confirmed a satellite dispensary will open in Columbus by the end of this week. M.A.C. is a medical marijuana dispensary headquartered in Billings.

On Nov. 26, the premises, located off North Ninth Street, was inspected by the Montana Medical Marijuana Program’s Region 4 Inspector, said M.A.C. co-CEO Richard Abromeit.  The Medical Marijuana Program is overseen by the state’s Department of Public Health and Human Services.

As of Tuesday, all that was keeping the local M.A.C. dispensary from officially opening was an email confirmation about the company’s manifests.  Once that confirmation was received, M.A.C. could move products from the Billings location to the Columbus location and open up shop.

Abromeit estimated the dispensary would be open by Thursday, Nov. 29.

Rosebud Remedies, the first medical marijuana storefront to become a reality in Columbus, had a soft opening earlier this week.

ABOUT M.A.C. DISPENSARY

Abromeit said there will be no marijuana grown at the Columbus site – all of the production will take place at M.A.C.’s Billings location.

The Columbus store will be open specifically to the green card holders who have been assigned to M.A.C.  Abromeit said the business has “well over 600 patients.”

M.A.C. will provide medical marijuana products to the card-holding patients through the dispensary. Legal CBD products will be available for those without a green card, as one is not necessary to purchase such items.

Abromeit describes the dispensary’s security system as “strict” – people will have to be buzzed in, and those without a green card must also sign in.  The building has multiple cameras and an alarm system.

All products will leave the dispensary in opaque, sealed exit bags, and the products are also encased in child-proof packing, said Abromeit.  Labels on the packaging that contain a QR code allow the product to be traced back to test results – a step Abromeit describes as allowing for transparency in the process.

Currently, an inspection by law enforcement is not required by law to receive a license, according to Abromeit, but M.A.C. will invite local law enforcement to tour the facility.  Montana Code allows for “unannounced” inspections of registered premises by local law enforcement agencies.

Abromeit said he believes the dispensary in Columbus “will bring commerce to the city.”  This is because M.A.C. customers, especially those living south and west of Columbus, will have a reason to stop in the city now, rather than just driving through to go to Billings as they may have done before.

BILLINGS LAWSUIT

M.A.C. and Abromeit, along with a patient, are involved in an ongoing lawsuit against the City of Billings.

In 2010, M.A.C. was given a business license in Billings, and despite subsequent ordinances passed by the city to regulate and ban medical marijuana storefronts and dispensaries, Billings continued to renew M.A.C.’s business license.

The lawsuit was filed in September 2017, after M.A.C. received notification that the business’s license would not be renewed.  M.A.C. argued the city cannot force the business out of Billings, especially since the city continued to renew the license despite prohibitions that had been passed.

The City of Billings has argued Montana Code gives the city the authority to pass and enforce ordinances prohibiting medical marijuana businesses.

As for the reason M.A.C. continued to receive a business license after ordinances had been passed to ban medical marijuana businesses, the city said the business license renewal process is not as rigorous as the initial application review.

Another dispensary in Billings, Montana Organic Medical Supply, found itself in a similar situation to M.A.C. and has also sued the city.

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