A Guide to Montana Cannabis Law
5 Montana Cannabis Laws You Must Know
Montana has a long history of legal cannabis, starting in 2004 with medical. But then years of back-and-forth made medical marijuana harder to get.
In 2020, voters approved Montana I-190 to legalize recreational cannabis. The state legislature then passed House Bill 701 in April 2021 which altered several aspects of the voter-approved measure. Under HB 701, the recreational law “Montana Marijuan Regulation and Taxation Act” became effective on January 1, 2022.
- In this post, you’ll get the rundown on everything you need to know about Montana cannabis laws.
- You can find the full medical and recreational regulations here.
- Montana Marijuana Laws at a Glance
- According to Montana state law, dispensaries are required to track inventory, transfers, and sales in Metrc — Montana’s official seed-to-sale tracking system.
- Medical marijuana delivery is allowed in Montana, per Mont. Admin. R. 42.39.413.
- Registered medical marijuana cardholders can purchase and possess up to one ounce of marijuana flower, or its equivalents.
- Consumers 21 and older can purchase and possess up to one ounce of usable marijuana, except that not more than 8 grams may be in a concentrated form and not more than 800 milligrams of THC may be in edible marijuana products.
- Medical marijuana purchases are taxed at 4% of retail sales, and recreational purchases are taxed at 20% of retail sales.
- Local jurisdictions can add an additional tax of no more than 3%.
How do patients get into the medical marijuana program?
- Residents may register with the program after obtaining a recommendation from a licensed physician. The recommendation — along with an application and a $5.00 fee — is submitted to the state’s regulatory agency, the Department Public Health and Human Services. The registration must be renewed every 12 months.
Which medical conditions qualify?
- Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for HIV/AIDS, cachexia or wasting syndrome, intractable nausea or vomiting, epilepsy or an intractable seizure disorder, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, painful peripheral neuropathy, a central nervous system disorder resulting in chronic, painful spasticity or muscle spasms, admittance into hospice care, or any other medical condition or treatment for a medical condition approved by the legislature. Severe chronic pain is also included, and requires either proof in the form of lab tests or imaging, or a second opinion by another physician. Post- traumatic stress disorder was added in the 2016 voter initiative, I-182.
How do patients obtain medical marijuana?
- Patients may either grow their own medical marijuana, or obtain it through a provider. Patients designate their preference when they apply to be in the registry.
How much medical marijuana can a patient have?
- Patients may possess up to 1 ounce of usable marijuana. State courts have interpreted “usable marijuana” to be limited to raw cannabis plant material. Extracts and concentrates, and the food items made from them, are not protected under current law.
How many plants can a patient or provider grow?
- A patient who has authorization to grow may have up to 12 “seedlings,” and up to 4 mature plants. A seedling is defined as a marijuana plant that is less than 12 inches tall or wide. A “mature” plant is any plant that is larger that that. Providers may have up to 12 seedlings and up to 4 mature plants for each patient they serve.
Does Montana have reciprocity?
- No. Only patients who are registered in the state program are legally protected under the medical marijuana laws.
What changed under I-182, the 2016 voter initiative?
- Under the previous law, providers could serve a maximum of three patients. The voter initiative removed that limitation, although questions remain about when the change goes into effect.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder was added as a qualifying medical condition.
- The state medical board is no longer required to investigate doctors who recommend medical marijuana to 25 patients or more.
- Medical marijuana may be tested for potency and for the presence of contaminants.
- Businesses must be licensed and inspected by the state.
- Businesses no longer need to be owned by residents to be licensed.
- Employees working for providers are protected from criminal possession laws.
Dispensary licensing explained:
- The Montana Department of Revenue controls the licensing of medical marijuana providers and dispensaries in Montana (this used to be handled by the Department of Public Health and Human Services).
- The adult-use program is a separate Department of Revenue program.
- Here’s what you need to know to get licensed in Montana:
- Any medical dispensary licensed prior to November 2020, who is also in good standing with the state, can apply for a recreational license. Good standing refers to no infractions by state inspectors and also paid to date on state, personal, MJ, and income taxes.
- The fee for an adult-use or medical marijuana dispensary license is $5,000 per location.
- Dispensaries can’t be located within a city, town, or country that prohibits medical marijuana use, or within 500 feet of any place of worship, school, or post-secondary school.
Purchase and possession limits
- Registered medical marijuana patients and adult-use consumers can purchase and possess up to one ounce of marijuana flower, or its equivalents:
- Eight grams of marijuana concentrate
- 800 milligrams of THC-infused products or edibles
- 8 grams or 8ml of THC in marijuana concentrate
- Medical patients can purchase 5 ounces per month with a daily purchase limit of one ounce.
- Recreational cannabis users can cultivate up to two mature marijuana plants and two seedlings in a private, locked area out of public view. Medical marijuana cardholders can cultivate up to four mature plants and four seedlings, also in a private, locked area out of public view
- For adult-use consumers, marijuana products sold at a dispensary are regulated and sold on the basis of the concentration of the THC. An individual package is limited to:
- For marijuana sold as flower, 1 ounce of usable marijuana. The total potential psychoactive THC of marijuana flower may not exceed 35%.
- For capsules – no more than 100 milligrams of THC per capsule and no more than 800 milligrams of THC per package.
- For tincture – no more than 800 milligrams of THC.
- For edibles or a food product – no more than 100 milligrams of THC. A single serving of an edible marijuana product may not exceed 10 milligrams of THC.
- For a topical product – a concentration of no more than 6% THC and no more than 800 milligrams of THC per package.
- For suppository or transdermal patch – no more than 100 milligrams of THC per suppository or transdermal patch and no more than 800 milligrams of THC per package.
- Any other marijuana product – no more than 800 milligrams of THC.
- A registered cardholder may purchase or possess any combination of marijuana flower, marijuana-infused products, and marijuana concentrate if the total calculated conversion is equal to or less than the legal purchase or possession amount.
Packaging and labels
Dispensary packaging explained:
Cannabis labels must include the following information:
- Strain name
- The common or usual name of the marijuana product (e.g., flower, inhaled extract, edible, cookie, or drinkable, topical, transdermal patch)
- The name of the marijuana dispensary that sold the product and the license number or numbers of the cultivator and manufacturer, as applicable
- The unique identification number generated from the seed-to-sale tracking system
- Date of harvest for marijuana flower or date of manufacture for marijuana products
- The net quantity of contents of the marijuana product.
- In addition to weight or fluid measure, a licensee shall include the number of servings in the net quantity of contents statement if the product is a multi- serving marijuana product
- The following statement: “This product has been tested and meets the requirements of the state of Montana.”
- A QR code that links to the product’s certificate of analysis with a statement informing customers they can scan the code to see additional product information;’
- The universal symbol, available from the department’s website.
- All marijuana and marijuana products shall be labeled with the following warnings:
- “Keep out of reach of children and pets”
- “This product may be addictive”
- “This product may have intoxicating effects. Do not drive while under the influence of marijuana.”
- Marijuana or marijuana product labeling shall not contain any statement or information that is false or misleading.
- The label of manufactured marijuana products must identify the method of manufacturing (e.g., mechanical, chemical) and for chemical manufacturing must identify the solvent used in the manufacturing process.
- Marijuana products for final sale must be packaged in child-resistant containers.
Explained: Here are the basics of cannabis taxation in Montana:
- Medical marijuana purchases are taxed at 4% of retail sales.
- Adult-use cannabis is taxed at 20% of retail sales.
- Local jurisdictions can add an additional tax of no more than 3%.
- The state allows conditional release or alternative or diversion sentencing for people facing their first prosecutions. Usually, conditional release lets a person opt for probation rather than trial. After successfully completing probation, the individual’s criminal record does not reflect the charge.
- Every state criminalizes driving under the influence of a controlled substance. Some jurisdictions also impose additional per se laws. In their strictest form, these laws forbid drivers from operating a motor vehicle if they have a detectable level of an illicit drug or drug metabolite (i.e., compounds produced from chemical changes of a drug in the body, but not necessarily psychoactive themselves) present in their bodily fluids above a specific, state-imposed threshold. Read further information about cannabinoids and their impact on psychomotor performance. Additional information regarding cannabinoids and proposed per se limits is available online.
- Generally, legalization means a policy that supports a legally controlled market for marijuana, where consumers can buy marijuana for personal use from a safe legal source.
- This state has local jurisdictions that have enacted municipal laws or resolutions either fully or partially decriminalizing minor cannabis possession offenses.
Mandatory Minimum Sentence
- When someone is convicted of an offense punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence, the judge must sentence the defendant to the mandatory minimum sentence or to a higher sentence. The judge has no power to sentence the defendant to less time than the mandatory minimum. A prisoner serving an MMS for a federal offense and for most state offenses will not be eligible for parole. Even peaceful marijuana smokers sentenced to “life MMS” must serve a life sentence with no chance of parole.
- This state has medical marijuana laws enacted. Modern research suggests that cannabis is a valuable aid in the treatment of a wide range of clinical applications. These include pain relief, nausea, spasticity, glaucoma, and movement disorders. Marijuana is also a powerful appetite stimulant and emerging research suggests that marijuana’s medicinal properties may protect the body against some types of malignant tumors, and are neuroprotective.
Is it legal to buy or sell marijuana in Montana?
- As of January 1, 2022, medical and adult use marijuana is legal to purchase in the state of Montana by individuals 21 and over.
Is adult-use marijuana possession and use legal in Montana?
- As of January 1, 2021, adults 21 and over may possess and use up to one ounce of marijuana with no criminal penalties.
- However, marijuana consumption and possession (including medical marijuana) remains prohibited in public and certain other locations. It is also prohibited under federal law on all federal lands and waters.
- Marijuana (except medical marijuana) is prohibited in hospitals and other health care facilities.
- Operating a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana remains illegal.
Is it legal for individuals in Montana to grow their own marijuana?
- Adults may cultivate up to two mature marijuana plants and two seedlings for private use in a private residence, subject to certain restrictions. (Medical marijuana cardholders may cultivate up to four mature plants and four seedlings). The plants may not be visible to the public.
Is growing hemp permitted in Montana?
- Yes. Hemp growers are licensed by the Montana Department of Agriculture.
Is adult-use marijuana available for sale in all Montana counties?
- No. In “green” counties, where the majority of voters supported Initiative 190 in November 2020, adult-use sales began in January 2022.
- In “red” counties, where the majority of voters opposed Initiative 190, adult-use marijuana sales are prohibited.
What type of adult-use marijuana licenses are available?
- In addition to continuing the Montana Medical Marijuana Program, the Department of Revenue issues separate licenses for marijuana cultivators, manufacturers, dispensaries, transporters, and testing laboratories.
- The Department offers 13 different cultivation or “canopy” licenses for cultivation facilities of different sizes.
A worker permit is required for any employee participating in any part of a marijuana business.
Can anyone apply for a license to grow or sell recreational marijuana, or manufacture recreational marijuana products?
- No. From January 1, 2022, until July 1, 2023, only Montana medical marijuana licensees who were licensed on November 3, 2020 (or had an application pending with DPHHS on that date) may be issued a license for cultivation, manufacture, or sale of adult-use marijuana.
Will there be limits on the THC content in adult-use marijuana products?
- When licensees are able to operate, edible adult-use marijuana products may contain up to 10 mg of THC per serving, and up to 100 mg of THC in an entire package.
- The total psychoactive THC of marijuana flower may not exceed 35%.
- Topical products may contain no more than 6% THC and no more than 800 mg of THC per package.
- A marijuana product sold as a capsule, transdermal patch or suppository, may contain more than 100 mg of THC, and no more than 800 mg of THC in an entire package.
- These limits do not apply to sales by licensed medical marijuana providers to medical marijuana cardholders.
Are medical marijuana and adult-use marijuana available at the same business?
- Yes. A licensed medical marijuana dispensary licensed on or before November 3, 2020, may sell adult-use marijuana in the same location as medical marijuana.
Which Montana counties approved initiative 190? Which did not?
- “Red” counties: Adult-use cannabis sales are prohibited.
- “Green” counties: Adult-use cannabis sales are permitted.
- “Blue” counties: County voters opted to include a local option sales sale on cannabis sales.
Marijuana tax rates in Montana
- Adult-use marijuana will be taxed at 20% of retail sales.
- Medical marijuana will continue to be taxed at 4% of retail sales.
- Local jurisdictions may add an additional tax of up to 3%.
- The tax applies to the gross retail price when a product is:
Montana Advertising Guide
- A licensee may promote its business and market its brand but may not advertise marijuana or marijuana products except in electronic advertising.
- “Advertise or advertising” means the publication, dissemination, solicitation, or circulation of visual, oral, or written communication to directly induce any person to purchase or consume marijuana or marijuana products. Advertising does not include branding, marketing, or packaging and labeling of marijuana and marijuana products.
- “Billboard” means a sign that directs attention to a business, commodity, service, entertainment, or attraction sold, offered, or existing elsewhere than upon the same premises where such sign is displayed.
- A licensee may use the phrase “marijuana” or “cannabis” in its signage or in its electronic advertising.
- A licensee’s outdoor signage may not use colloquial terms for marijuana or marijuana products (e.g., pot, reefer, ganja, weed) and may not use an image or visual representation of useable marijuana, marijuana-infused products, marijuana concentrates, marijuana paraphernalia, or an image that indicates the presence of a product such as smoke, edibles, etc.
- A licensee’s outdoor signage must comply with any applicable local jurisdiction sign ordinances and regulations.
- A marijuana business that maintains a webpage must utilize appropriate measures to verify that individuals visiting the webpage are 21 years of age or older.
- Marijuana business social media accounts that advertise marijuana or marijuana products must be private and must contain a clearly visible notice on the main page stating that only persons 21 years of age or older may follow the account.
- A marijuana business may not:
- engage in advertising via marketing directed towards location-based devices, including, but not limited to cellular phones, unless users affirmatively opt in to receiving push notifications related to marijuana or marijuana-related products;
- utilize unsolicited pop-up or push-to advertising on the internet;
- advertise on television, radio, or in print such as newspapers, magazines, flyers, and mailers;
- engage in advertising or utilize signage that asserts its products are safe;
- utilize a billboard;
- use objects such as toys or inflatables, movie or cartoon characters, or any other depiction or image likely to be appealing to youth, where the objects, images, or depictions indicate an intent to cause youth to become interested in the purchase or consumption of marijuana products; or
- use or employ a commercial mascot outside of, and in proximity to, a licensed marijuana business. A “commercial mascot” means a live human being, animal, or mechanical device used for attracting the attention of motorists and passersby so as to make them aware of marijuana products or the presence of a marijuana business. Commercial mascots include, but are not limited to, inflatable tube displays, persons in costume, or wearing, holding, or spinning a sign with a marijuana-related commercial message or image, where the intent is to draw attention to a marijuana business or its products.
- The prohibition in (9)(c) does not prohibit the use of informational pamphlets for dissemination at marijuana trade conferences or the use or distribution of business cards.
- The prohibition in (9)(d) does not prohibit a marijuana business from asserting that its products have been tested by a licensed marijuana testing laboratory.
- The department’s enforcement of the advertising restrictions provided under this rule shall begin on January 1, 2022.
Montana Marijuana Laws and Penalties
|Montana Laws and Penalties|
|Possession – Personal Use|
|1 oz or less||No penalty||None||$0|
|1 – 2 oz (1st offense)||Civil infraction||None||$200|
|1 – 2 oz (2nd offense)||Civil infraction||None||$300|
|More than 2 oz||Felony||5 years||$45,000|
|With intent to distribute|
|1 – 2 oz||Civil infraction||None||$200|
|More than 2 oz||Felony||20 years||$50,000|
|Sale or Delivery|
|More than 2 oz with or without compensation||Felony||1 year* – life||$50,000|
|From an adult to a minor||Felony||2 years*||$50,000|
|Within 1000 feet of school grounds||Felony||3 years* – life||$50,000|
|* Mandatory minimum sentence|
|Up to 2 mature plants and/or 2 seedlings per adult||No penalty||None||$0|
|More than 2 mature plants up to 1 lb or 30 plants||Felony||10 years||$50,000|
|More than 1 lb or more than 30 plants||Felony||2 years – life||$50,000|
|Second or subsequent offense is punishable by twice the term of imprisonment and twice the authorized fine.|
|Hash & Concentrates|
|Possession of 1 gram or less (first offense)||Misdemeanor||6 months||$500|
|Possession of 1 gram or less (subsequent offense)||Misdemeanor||3 years||$1,000|
|Possession of more than 1 g||Felony||5 years||$1,000|
|Penalties for the sale or possession with the intent to sell hashish are the same as for marijuana.|
|Possession, manufacture, or delivery of paraphernalia||Misdemeanor||6 months||$500|
|To a person under 18 who is at least 3 years younger||Misdemeanor||1 year||$1,000|
|Civil Asset Forfeiture|
|Vehicles and other property may be seized.|
|Use or possession of property subject to criminal forfeiture||Felony||10 years||N/A|
|Continuing criminal enterprise results is a felony punishable by double or triple fine and imprisonment.|
|Possession of marijuana on a train results in additional penalties.|
|Storing marijuana results in additional fines.|
|Anyone convicted of a misdemeanor must attend a mandatory drug education course.|
|Imprisonment for felonies may be eligible for suspended or deferred imposition, which may include commitment to a drug treatment facility, community service, or driver’s license revocations.|