Yes! Both medical and recreational marijuana are legal in Montana. Recreational marijuana was legalized with Initiative 190 in November 2020. Medical marijuana was legalized in 2004 with a 64% majority vote. However, this bill made it extremely hard for anyone to access medical marijuana. Caregivers could only assist three patients and many of them opted out of the program as it was illegal to give caregivers anything of monetary value. Therefore, in 2016 Montana voters passed another initiative to significantly expand the medical marijuana program. This initiative made the medical marijuana program more accessible to people and also expanded the narrow list of qualifying conditions.
Up until 2016, purchasing medical marijuana was nearly impossible in Montana. There were almost no medical retailers, the qualifying conditions were exceedingly rare, and caregivers opted out of the program as they could only see three patients without pay of any kind. In addition, doctors who recommended more than 25 patients were sent to the board of medical examiners and placed under high scrutiny.
However, with the initiative brought forward in 2016, the medical marijuana program, while still not perfect, was greatly improved and is similar to most states in how it operates. Delivery of any kind is still illegal in Montana, but caregivers are allowed to purchase medical marijuana on behalf of their patients. While there are not a ton of medical dispensaries across the state, each one is highly regulated and operates under similar conditions.
Unfortunately, recreational marijuana sales will not begin until 2022.
Purchasing marijuana in-person is relatively simple once one has obtained their medical marijuana card. A customer must bring their Montana issued government ID as well as their Montana state-licensed medical marijuana card to a dispensary. As stated before, recreational dispensaries are set to open in 2022.
After the expansion of Montana’s medical marijuana act in 2016, the state disallowed for the delivery of medical marijuana in any capacity. Patients or caregivers must physically enter a dispensary in order to obtain cannabis. There has been no mention of legalizing delivery in the state of Montana at this time.
Montana has not limited the operating hours for dispensaries, and each dispensary can utilize their own thought process when choosing store hours. However, nearly all dispensaries in Montana open around 10:00 am. and close around 7:00 pm.
As outlined on the state’s official website, medical marijuana cardholders are allowed to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana or its equivalent in oils or edibles. The state also put up a new directive that does not allow for people to purchase more than 5 ounces within a month and no more than one ounce per day. As for recreational cannabis, consumers will be able to have up to one ounce of cannabis on them but no more than 8 grams of concentrates.
As the medical marijuana program is currently so small in Montana, the variety of products isn’t as large as other states. While every type of medical marijuana product can be found in Montana, specific items may be harder to find and have fewer options to choose from. Flower still remains the top pick for Montanan cardholders, but as the program expands the number of choices will increase.
Recreational marijuana will be taxed at a high rate of 20%.
Montana keeps it simple by only issuing a sales tax on medical marijuana. The starting tax rate for medical marijuana was 2% but it just jumped to 4% a few years ago. Therefore, medical marijuana is only taxed once at the final transaction at the dispensary to the customer with a 4% sales tax.
Medical marijuana patients and adults over 21 in Montana are allowed to possess up to an ounce of cannabis or its equivalent in oils or edibles. However, nobody is allowed to purchase more than five ounces within a month. Cardholders are also allowed to possess up to four mature plants at a time. Due to the fact that there are so few dispensaries in Montana, one can elect to not “name” a provider and grow their own cannabis. The amount that they are allowed to keep from the growth is determined by the department.
The only place one can legally smoke or consume cannabis is in the privacy of one’s own home outside of the public eye. Additionally, always make sure that nobody under the age of 18 is present, and that consuming cannabis will not harm anyone. There have been no businesses to allow the consumption of marijuana, so your best bet is to always wait until you get home.
Areas in Montana that DO allow the use of marijuana:
Areas in Montana that DO NOT allow the use of marijuana:
As you may know, marijuana of any kind is still illegal on a federal level. Essentially what this means is that any land that is owned by the federal government puts you in the feds jurisdiction where marijuana is illegal. Therefore, if you are caught possessing and/or consuming marijuana on federally owned land, you will be prosecuted by the feds. Although Montana is known for its incredible national parks, never attempt to bring marijuana to them as you could get into some serious trouble.
Montana’s medical marijuana program has been gradually expanding since its legalization in 2004. Voters each year are expanding on the original legalization making massive strides toward a better program. In 2016 qualifying conditions became more lenient and allowed doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis without tarnishing their image. Now, medical marijuana is helping the state economy through taxes and environmental initiatives. Users are currently trying to pass legislation for recreational marijuana and their efforts have gone a long way. In fact, it is speculated that recreational marijuana could be legalized in 2021 as efforts have been slowed by the Coronavirus.
With the expansion of medical marijuana, obtaining a medical card is significantly easier than it was in Montana’s past. Here are the steps to getting your medical card:
1. First, check to see if your condition is on the state’s list of qualifying conditions.
2. Next, schedule an appointment with a medical marijuana doctor to confirm your symptoms and acquire their signature.
3. After getting a signature, fill out Montana’s medical marijuana application and send it to the state with your doctor’s recommendation and signature.
4. Wait until the state reviews your request and your MMJ card will be sent in the mail.
Out of state medical cards are not currently being accepted in Montana. Perhaps with the pursuit of recreational legalization, reciprocity could take effect. However, as of now one must hold a valid Montana issued medical card to purchase or cultivate marijuana in the state.
Marijuana can only be transported in Montana if it is sealed and in the trunk or back of the vehicle. Marijuana can never be opened or in reach of the driver as this would constitute a misdemeanor. Montana police take transporting marijuana very seriously and could still charge you with a misdemeanor if you don’t follow their rules. Therefore, do your best to limit the number of times you transport marijuana and always have it sealed and in the back of the vehicle.
Driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal in all states across the U.S. In the eyes of the Montana police, any amount of cannabis puts the driver in an impaired state which leads to serious punishments akin to drinking and driving. Therefore, never drive a vehicle after consuming cannabis and it is always best practice to not drive for the rest of the day to avoid these serious charges.
Due to the fact that state boundaries are governed on a federal level, crossing state borders with cannabis is a federal offense that results in serious trouble. Therefore, if you have leftover cannabis and are approaching a state boundary, return your cannabis to a local dispensary and remember to never attempt crossing the state line.
Since there are such few dispensaries across the state of Montana, cultivating marijuana is legal. If one has not stated a dispensary as their provider, Montana MMJ cardholders are allowed to possess up to four mature plants and four seedlings at a time. However, if a patient has designated their own medical marijuana provider (i.e. a dispensary) they are not allowed to cultivate their own marijuana. Therefore, if you live too far away from a dispensary your best bet is to not name a provider and simply grow the marijuana yourself. It is also important to note that you must declare your grow with the state, and they are who determine how much of the harvest one can keep. Also, one must always keep their marijuana grow out of the public eye and lock it up so nobody has easy access to it but the patient. Recreational consumers may have up to 4 plants, as well.