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Frequently Asked Questions About Marijuana in Montana
Though the program has gone through several revisions where the use, possession, or cultivation of marijuana have been limited or expanded, Montana voters have legal access to medical marijuana.
Is marijuana legal in Montana?
When did marijuana become legal in Montana?Ballot initiative 148 was voted on and passed in November of 2004, allowing medical marijuana to be used by patients under the care of a physician. It failed to create a regulatory structure for dispensaries at that time. In 2011, lawmakers in Montana attempted to repeal the measure outright, but the attempt was blocked by the governor, ultimately forcing a compromise through a public vote in November of 2012. The compromise limited the number of patients per provider (aka a dispensary) to three and allowed local governments to deny marijuana-related businesses. As a result, patient volume dropped, causing the closure of many dispensaries.
In 2016, voters approved another ballot initiative aimed at revising the medical marijuana program. They removed the limit on how many patients a provider may care for while strengthening legal protections for patients, providers, and physicians.
Where are the dispensaries in Montana?Dispensaries can be limited or banned by local governments. According to Montana's medical marijuana registry, in February 2017 over 500 providers were associated with at least one patient.
Are they MED or REC dispensaries?Montana has only a medical marijuana program at this time.
Who can be a medical patient in Montana?Montana allows state residents to be registered in their medical marijuana program. In order to be registered, an individual must receive a recommendation from a physician certified with the state to prescribe medicine.
While additional conditions may be added to the list as deemed medically appropriate, physicians may only recommend marijuana to individuals suffering from any of the following conditions, diseases, or ailments:
- HIV or AIDS and any associated life-limiting symptoms
- Chronic pain which is severe or persistent to the degree it significantly interrupts the day-to-day life activities of an individual
- Nausea or vomiting which is persistent, severe, or both
- Intractable seizure disorders, including epilepsy
- Multiple sclerosis
- Crohn's disease
- Cachexia or wasting syndrome
- Painful peripheral neuropathy
- Any central nervous system condition resulting in painful muscle spasms or chronic spasticity
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Terminal illnesses and end-of-life care
How do I become a medical patient in Montana?Montana does not limit patients by age; however, minors under 18 must receive two separate physician recommendations and have a caregiver (such as the parent or legal guardian) purchase and administer doses. The parent or guardian must provide consent to the treatment in writing and be responsible for all fees associated with caregiver and patient registration.
For any adult age 18 and older, after receiving a certification from your physician, you must submit an application to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services at a fee of $5.00 per year. Providers for minors are required to pay a registration fee of $50.
Where can I smoke?Marijuana may not be used in any form in any of the following places:
- On the grounds of or in any school, public or private - including universities and other post-secondary academic facilities
- In a school bus or on any other form of public transport
- In any court ordered correctional program or facility
- At a public park, beach, recreation center, or youth center
- On the property of any place of worship
- In any place which can be easily viewed by the public
- In any place where exposure to marijuana smoke may impact the health, safety, or welfare of minors under 18 who is not a registered patient
How much does marijuana cost in Montana?Montana has reasonable prices on their medical marijuana products. A 1/8th, on average, goes for between $30-$35. An ounce will cost between $225-$250 on average. A 10 mg edible product generally costs between $5-$10.
How much marijuana can I buy and possess in Montana?Medical patients and their registered caregivers may possess a collective total of one ounce of usable marijuana. Usable marijuana includes the flower and leaves but does not include the stems or unusable materials.
Can I grow marijuana? How many plants?Montana allows medical marijuana patients to grow as many as four mature, flowering cannabis plants at any one time. Patients or their registered caregiver may also have as many as twelve immature plants.
How do I get a job in the marijuana industry of Montana?Providers and their employees must be at least 21 years of age. Applicants must have never been convicted of a drug-related offense or a felony of any kind - information which will be verified by fingerprinting and a background check. The applications are available on the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services website and must be submitted with a $50 annual application fee.
Is Drug testing for marijuana legal in Montana?Employers are neither required to accommodate the use of medical marijuana nor tolerate it from their employees. Furthermore, employers are explicitly allowed under Montana law to prohibit the use of medical marijuana by employees through employment contracts. Discrimination or wrongful discharge are not sufficient to contest the employer's code of conduct at this time.
Is Delivery legal?Yes, registered caregivers and providers can transport or deliver medical marijuana products to qualifying patients.
How to pay for marijuana in Montana dispensaries?The medical marijuana program in Montana runs on cash sales, a persistent result of the continued federal illegality of marijuana intermingling with federal financial laws and regulations.
Montana Marijuana Laws
In the 2012 vote, 57% of voters supported the medical marijuana program. Under the new program, several changes detrimental to the existing patient population occurred. For instance, providers of medical marijuana were limited to three patients under their care. As a result, over 20,000 qualifying patients lost access to medical marijuana.
In an effort to further refine the program, medical marijuana supporters once again turned to the ballot, passing I-182 in November of 2016. The program removed the three-patient maximum for providers and established a regulatory structure for providers to be licensed to serve patients. While many of these regulations are still being decided upon by lawmakers, here are a few things we know:
Purchase and Possession LimitsMontana allows medical patients and their primary caregiver (aka provider) to possess as much as one ounce of usable marijuana, which is interpreted as the flowers and leaves of raw cannabis.
If a patient or their caregiver collectively possess more than one ounce, they are subject to the same legal penalties as those who are not registered in the program whatsoever. Possession of up to 60 grams, or just over two ounces, carry misdemeanor criminal charges, fines up to $500, and as much as six months in jail for the first offense.
Driving while IntoxicatedUnder no circumstance does the Montana medical marijuana program allow any person to drive or otherwise operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of medical marijuana. Unchanged from previous law, marijuana intoxication while being in control of a vehicle can result in fines up to $1,000, as much as six months imprisonment, and must spend, at the minimum, one full day in jail.
Marijuana intoxication in Montana is determined by the volume of THC in an individual's blood at any one time. For individuals operating a motor vehicle, the limit is set at five nanograms per milliliter of blood.
Driving while in possession of marijuanaAny individual licensed to possess marijuana - such as a patient, caregiver, medical marijuana provider, or dispensary employee - may also transport the plant and any infused products with certain limitations. As the law says marijuana cannot be consumed in any form on public transportation, public or private. To be safe, we interpret this to include your own car on any road where the public may access.
Be sure to remain in Montana with all medical marijuana and marijuana-infused products and have them sealed, labeled, and out of reach.
Marijuana Use by MinorsMinors may only use marijuana if they are registered by their parent or legal guardian in the state medical marijuana program. In order to get a child registered, the parent or legal guardian must not only consent to the treatment on the behalf of the minor, they must also include themselves as the child's caregiver and infused-product provider. Additionally, minor patients are forbidden from smoking medical marijuana and must be evaluated by and recommended medical marijuana by two physicians.
Marijuana use by minors is penalized by the same possession penalties for adults. This includes misdemeanor criminal charges, as much as six months in jail, and as much as a $500 for the first offense.
Growing Marijuana at HomeMedical marijuana can be grown by patients or their designated provider; however, the number of plants is limited to four mature, or flowering, plants, and twelve immature plants. During the application process, patients are required to indicate the location they will be cultivating their medicine or the provider who will grow or manufacture products on their behalf.
Any individual not registered in the state database who is caught growing marijuana is subject to felony charges, including fines as much as $50,000 and up to 10 years in prison. These penalties also apply to patients and providers operating beyond the possession limit.
Places to Consume LegallyMontana is considerably difficult to navigate as a medical patient, having defined limits to where using medical marijuana in any form (edible, oil, topical, wax, etc...) is legal and where it is not. The list of places prohibited includes:
- On the grounds of any school, including universities, and any related property
- On a school bus
- On any form of public transportation
- At any correctional facility
- At a public park, beach, recreation center, or youth facility
- On the property of any place of worship
- In any place where you can, in general, is open to the public
- Where the smoke from marijuana can negatively affect the health, safety, and wellbeing of children.
Montana Marijuana Prices and Economic Data
In June 2011, SB 423 was implemented, effectively limiting the number of patients a provider could care for. At the time the law was implemented, over 30,000 medical marijuana patients qualified for the program. Due to the new restrictions, by December this number had fallen to 18,000 patients. By June 2012, only 8,500 patients remained.
During this time, the flow of marijuana was interrupted significantly, if not stopped altogether, as the three patient limit forced many of the dispensary locations servicing patients to close. Luckily, the latest version of the medical marijuana program - voted on in November 2016 - removes the three patient restrictions and provides further legal protections for patients, their recommending physician, and their designated provider. Since being signed into law in December, almost 1,000 additional patients have enrolled or re-enrolled in the program every month.
Pricing and TaxesWhile pricing is variable from dispensary to dispensary and from strain to strain, Montana medical patients have access to a wide array of marijuana or marijuana-infused products to treat their symptoms. Here are the general costs:
Prices of Flower
- 1 gram = $10
- 1/8th oz = $30-$35
- 1/4th oz = $55-$70
- ½ oz = $130-$140
- 1 ounce = $225-$250
As of April 2017, Montana has yet to implement a tax on the purchase or transfer of medical marijuana.
Marijuana Activities: Things to do in Montana
Montana State Hemp and Cannabis FestivalThe Montana State Hemp and Cannabis Festival is an annual celebration of cannabis culture in the state. This three-day festival has all the necessities: live music, product raffles, food vendors, and a variety of events and activities (like glassblowing) celebrating the rapidly-changing cannabis industry.
Glacier National ParkGlacier National Park is an incredible mountainous mix of ice and rock, complete with caves, caverns, and rugged peaks carved by millions of years of shifting glacial activity. Containing over 700 miles of trails, the National Park is perfect for the active hiker seeking incredible views. If you'd prefer to a more leisurely tour, the Going-to-the-Sun Road is a 52-mile highway cutting through Glacier National Park, offering stupendous views throughout. While you are there, check out the Grinnell Glacier, a large glacier at the heart of the park offering 300 acres of all-around beauty.
The Lewis and Clark Interpretive CenterExisting in a 25,000 square-foot facility, the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center is a unique way to experience the exploration of America and become immersed in history. The center includes a permanent exhibit hall, a 158-seat theater, an education room for hands-on activities, and even a retail store. The center inspires awe and awakening curiosity toward the many challenges that the Lewis and Clark expedition faced as they ventured across the continent.
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