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After helping turn county green, Glendive dispensary owner sets sights on changing a different law

A marijuana plant is displayed during the 2016 Cannabis Business Summit & Expo last month in Oakland, Calif.

Kaari Fulton received her license to open Armadillo Buds in Glendive in late November 2020 hoping to eventually sell recreational marijuana after Montana voters approved the initiative legalizing it.

“We took a jump at this knowing, quote unquote, at the time that we would be able to do rec three days from now," she said.

But Montana legislators passed a law earlier this year that changed how the state's legal recreational market would be regulated. The amendment limited recreational licenses for the first 18 months to existing providers – meaning ones licensed before Nov. 3 of 2020.

Fulton had missed the cutoff by just a few weeks.

"I guarantee you I don't believe I ever would have taken the jump as much as did had I not been informed and then taken away," she said.

"No one in their common sense would have done it, either."

Shops licensed after the cutoff date are limited to medicinal sales until mid-2023 – or, if they’re in red counties, have to cease operations after Friday.

After helping flip Dawson County from "red" to "green" in last week's special election, Fulton says she's now focused on changing that state law so she and other medical marijuana providers licensed after Nov. 3 can participate in the recreational market when it opens up at the start of the year.

“I just want to go to work," she said.

Fulton will continue with medicinal sales for the next 18 months, but she says even with the higher tax on recreational products, she expects customers will eventually stop renewing their medical cards.

Nadya joined Yellowstone Public Radio as news director in October 2021. Before coming to YPR, she spent six years as digital news editor/reporter for the NPR affiliate in Wichita, Kansas, where her work earned several Kansas Association of Broadcasters awards and a regional Edward R. Murrow award for Excellence in Social Media. Originally from Texas, Nadya has lived and worked in Colorado, Illinois, Washington, D.C.; and North Dakota. She lives in Billings with her cat, Dragon, and dog, Trooper, and enjoys hiking, crocheting, and traveling as often as possible.