KALISPELL (KPAX) - Flathead County commissioners have decided not to opt out of the sale of recreational marijuana.

People packed a meeting room and lined the hallway for a public session on Wednesday to discuss the sale of recreational marijuana.

About 85 people attended the comment session, representing both sides of the issue.

“While I am opposed to the legalization of cannabis in Flathead County and Montana in general, I understand that in November of 2020 the voters of Montana approved the use of recreational cannabis. On Wednesday the County Commission hosted a public hearing to allow the voices, both for and against to present their views and opinions in a public forum. I believe this was good government. After listening to both sides of this issue I have several thoughts. I don’t believe that the repeal of I190 would stop anybody from using cannabis it would just prevent them from using a tested and regulated product. Any process to repeal I190 needs to start with a citizen initiative and a petition drive. If a majority of Flathead County voters truly want it repealed, which should be a straightforward process without the cost of litigation that would follow if it was placed on the ballot by the commissioners. As a strong supporter of business and property rights, I believe the owners of the dispensaries who have invested 100’s of thousands of dollars into what is a legal enterprise with the expectation of being able to plan for the future should not lose those investments. With this in mind I will publicly state I have no intention of doing anything that would place this on the ballot.” - Flathead County Commissioner Brad Abell

Recreational marijuana sales began in Montana in January after voters approved legalization in the November 2020 election. But nearly two years after the decision was put to voters, questions about how marijuana should be sold persist.