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2022 is off to an exciting start in Big Sky Country. On January 1, recreational marijuana sales began across Montana; and now — nearly two decades after the state first legalized medical marijuana — its stellar cannabis can finally be enjoyed by all Montanans and visitors alike.

The Montana cannabis market offers much to explore. Thanks to an 18-month moratorium on new business licenses included in the state's legalization framework bill, nearly every shop in the state is actually based there and tends to emphasize small-scale, high-quality flower and products.

The launch of the rec market has also opened the door to horizontal sales in Montana, which means that customers can finally buy flower and other products from a shop other than the one that produced them, making your Montana cannabis adventures even more enjoyable and accessible.

High tourist season doesn't hit in Montana until the summer, but the quieter winter months are arguably an even better time to explore: from gorgeous snowy hikes to bountiful skiing, hot springs, and more, Montana winters are best enjoyed with newly-legal cannabis.

Below, find some of our favorites — the must-haves to help you make the most of your cannabis-fueled winter adventures, along with some unique pot shops in Big Sky Country.

Juniper Cannabis Dispensary in Bozeman

Situated in a Victorian house in booming downtown Bozeman, Juniper Cannabis sets a high bar for the Montana dispensary experience. The printed menus make navigating the store's wares extremely manageable ... and are much appreciated by this low-vision writer.

Juniper's product is as on-point as its shopping experience. I've fallen in love with the dense and super terp-y Starkiller strain, as well as a hard-to-find CBD-dominant indica vape cart; the latter is a great way to unwind without sinking too far into the couch.

Bonus: Juniper carries hiking-friendly titanium bongs and unique, curved Hobbit-esque pipes from fellow Bozemanites Dangle Supply.

Address: 120 N Grand Avenue, Bozeman

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High Road Edibles' Gummies

Whether you're looking for an energizing buzz to fuel a day on the slopes or a mellow cannabis après-ski for the hot springs or hot tub, the low-dose edibles company High Road Edibles has you covered.

High Road gummies come twenty per tin at 5 milligrams THC each and are available in killer flavor combinations crafted by co-founder and veteran Missoula-based chef Ben Miller: energizing lemon & strawberry, a hybrid peach & green apple, and a profoundly soothing grapefruit & blood orange.

Solventless Vape Carts at Groove and Dancing Goat Gardens

Solventless extractions, in which cannabis oils are removed from the plant without the use of chemical solvents like butane, CO2, or ethanol, have become a much-hyped component of the Montana recreational market.

If you're looking for a terpene-rich solventless vape cart, check out one of Missoula's newest shops, Groove, an offshoot of Montana concert promoters Logjam Presents.

Like High Road Edibles, Groove is similarly taking advantage of the horizontal marketplace and selling its carts across Montana. But if you're in downtown Missoula, we recommend stopping by the cheery showroom to check out a wide selection of vape carts, including house specialties like the buzzy North Shore Maui and the soothing Pakistani Chitral Kush.

We're also fans of the solventless vape carts from Dancing Goat Gardens, in collaboration with its in-house brand Glacier Solventless. Just like Groove's carts, these are great for outdoor adventures and pack a helluva punch. My favorite is the decadent Ice Cream Cake.

Tip: If you're headed out of Missoula to take in the serene beauty of Seeley Lake, stop by Dancing Goat's satellite shop there.

Groove address: 132 W Front St Suite 2, Missoula

Dancing Goat Gardens address: 2145 South Ave W, Missoula

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Spark1 in Missoula

The Missoula-based powerhouse dispensary Spark1 proves that it's possible to go big without sacrificing quality. One of the most recognizable brands in the state, Spark1 delivers on top-selling strains like Wedding Pie and Fatso, as well as concentrates like Durban Orange Tahoe Shatter. Located right on the edge of downtown, with a sizable parking lot to boot, Spark1 is an easy and affordable stop before setting out on your adventures.

The company has its sights on expanding into the wholesale market, so look out for its products across Montana in the months to come.

Address: 400 E Broadway St, Missoula

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Montana Canna and Big Mountain Botanicals

There's tons to love in the northwest corner of Montana in the wintertime: staring into the glassy surface of Flathead Lake, skiing Whitefish Mountain Resort, reveling in the funky water at Quinn's Hot Springs. And what do these joyous activities have in common? They all go great with flower from one of Montana's best-kept cannabis secrets, Montana Canna.

Located a few miles outside of downtown Kalispell, the Montana Canna team, led by owner Zachary Block, turns out some of the most consistently top-shelf and exciting selections around. While we can't get enough of classics like LA Kush Cake and Sundae Float, rarer strains like Mellowz and Violet Fog are just as thrilling.

If you're in the area, find Big Mountain Botanicals in Columbia Falls. The flower is on-point, the infused honey is top-shelf, and the 100 milligram CBD gummies are my favorite CBD product made in the state.

Montana Canna address: 2797 Highway 2 West, Unit B, Kalispell

Big Mountain Botanicals address: 36 Jellison Lane Unit C, Columbia Falls

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Burn in Butte

Driving between Missoula and Bozeman? Why not time your bathroom break with a stop at the much-buzzed dispensary Burn, located in a strip mall in the fabled mining town of Butte.

Offering just a dozen or so strains, Burn goes all-in on loud, gorgeous nugs. The Sherb Cake is one of the most euphoric strains I've ever smoked, and the Tropical Cherries is a terp hunter's dream.

Burn adress: 1247 Harrison Ave, Butte

Betty's Roadside Provisions and Greener Pastures in Big Sky

Big Sky Resort is one of the most beloved places to ski in Montana. Fortunately, there's top-shelf cannabis nearby. Check out Betty's Roadside Provisions, featuring products from veteran growers Double Dogs and their partner, the iconic brand Cookies. The Cheetah Piss, in particular, is a stellar hybrid for skiing needs.

We're also big fans of Greener Pastures — its indica-leaning Chili Verde is a fragrant delight.

Betty's Roadside Provisions address: 48025 Gallatin Rd #1, Gallatin Gateway

Greener Pastures address: 120 Big Pine Dr #5, Big Sky

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