Is Weed Legal in Montana?

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After the November 3rd ballot, marijuana will be legal for all Montana residents aged 21 and older starting January 1st, 2020. This marks an important step for the state, which had already legalized marijuana for medical use. While you wait for next year to come, it is important to take into account all the current laws regarding weed in Montana.

Weed is currently considered a Schedule I hallucinogenic substance and a dangerous drug, hence the possession of any amount of marijuana for personal use without a medical license is a serious crime and punishable by imprisonment and fines. Possessing any amount less than 60 grams of recreational weed is considered a misdemeanor and carries a three ­year maximum jail sentence and a $1,000 maximum fine. Subsequent offenses can be punished by as much as 3 years in prison, as well as $1,500 in fines.

Medical use of weed in Montana

Montana was one of the first states to allow the medical use of weed when in 2004 the I-148 ballot initiative passed with 62% in favor. Since then, the Senate Bill 423 had looked to expand the state’s list of approved conditions as -like in other medical marijuana states- patients in Montana must have a debilitating condition supported by a written statement from a doctor, over the age of 18 and be approved by the medical marijuana program to access weed safely. 

Initiative 182 eliminated the three-patient limit for medical providers as well as the limit to assist a certain number of patients. Also, the services and products provided to marijuana patients can now be lucrative for these caregivers since they were not allowed to obtain anything of value, including money. Regarding the list of qualifying conditions, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was included.

How can I get my Medical Card?

Anyone who wants to apply for the medical card must register with the DPHHS’s Quality Assurance Division to receive it, besides submitting the diagnosis statement, -before mentioned- written by a licensed physician to guarantee a legal purchase of cannabis. Having a valid Montana ID that identifies you as a resident is also a must. Finally, to be approved by the state’s medical-marijuana program, the patient  must have one or more of the following medical conditions:

  • Severe chronic pain
  • Cachexia
  • Intractable nausea or vomiting
  • Hospice care admittance
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Glaucoma
  • Cancer
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Epilepsy
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Severe chronic pain
  • Intractable nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle spasms

Purchase and consumption of weed in Montana

Registered patients need to be 18 years of age and older to purchase cannabis from a dispensary storefront or cultivate their own cannabis. Providers delivering the product to patients need to be registered.  On the other hand, children younger than 18 must identify a parent or legal guardian as their provider to be able to also receive ID cards.

Providers must be Montana residents, obtain business licenses, and undergo fingerprinting and criminal background checks. Fees for providers range from $100 for a caregiver relative to $5,000 for a provider with 50 or more patients. The same goes for dispensaries, as they must also be registered and licensed. Owners of the business must submit fingerprints and go through a background check. If using a space that is not their own, dispensaries must have a permission form from the landlord.

If a registered patient has not listed a provider, they may possess up to 1 ounce of usable cannabis as well as four mature plants and 12 seedlings. A registered provider is allowed to have up to 1 ounce of usable cannabis, as well as four mature plants and 12 seedlings for each registered cardholder who has named the provider in their application.

Cultivation of cannabis in Montana

In 2001, Montana passed Senate Bill 261, becoming one of the first states to legalize hemp for industrial purposes and categorizing industrial hemp as an agricultural crop -so long as it contained less than 0.3 percent THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol)-. To be allowed to grow hemp commercially, the law also created licensing procedures for farmers. Inside this law, there was a request to the federal government to allow the law to be enacted without federal interference as the same law was largely symbolic at the time.

Montana has moved forward with commercial hemp growing since the federal legalization of hemp in December 2018.  In March 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the commercial hemp program proposed by the Montana Department of Agriculture 

Under Federal Law in the United States, hemp-derived CBD products are legal; however, individual state laws are dynamic, fluid, and in freedom to enact their own laws governing hemp-derived CBD.

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