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An Overview of Montana’s Medical Marijuana Laws

No prior relationship with a physician is required in order to qualify for medical marijuana in Montana. However, doctors must be licensed to practice in Montana before they can recommend cannabis for a patient in Montana. Leafwell can make the process of finding an appropriately qualified and licensed Montana physician much easier.

2004 – Voters approved Initiative 148, removing state-level criminal penalties for those with a medical marijuana card.

2011 – SB 423 is passed and the application process changed somewhat. SB 423 meant patients required a Montana-specific driver license or state-issued state ID card, as well as a second recommendation by a physician when patients were using cannabis for chronic pain.

2016 – Initiative 182 is approved, and some of the restrictions on medical marijuana in SB 423 and SB 143 are changed, reinstating the state’s original medical marijuana laws. This means that patients with a debilitating illness and physician’s recommendation are allowed to access marijuana for medicinal purposes.

A registered cardholder who has named a provider may possess up to one ounce of usable marijuana.

A registered cardholder who has not named a provider may possess up to 4 mature plants, 4 seedlings and the amount of usable marijuana allowed by the department by rule.

If there are two or more medical marijuana patients in the same residence, the maximum number of mature plants and seedlings allowed is 8.

Caregiver programs are operational, but they cannot provide for more than 2 patients (3 if the caregiver is also a patient) at a time, and must be a resident of the state of Montana.

Dispensaries are operational in Montana.

Those without a medical marijuana card and in possession of cannabis may well be charged with a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the amount carried. Carrying 60 g or less (1 g or less hashish/concentrates) for a first offence may mean up to 6 months incarceration and/or a $500 fine. A second offence can mean up to 3 years incarceration and/or a $1,000 fine.

Possession of more than 1 g of hashish/concentrates is considered a felony, and can bring charges of up to 5 years in prison and/or a $1,000 fine. Manufacturing hashish and concentrates can bring a 10 year sentence and/or a $50,000 fine.

Carrying any amount more than 60 g is considered a felony in Montana, and can carry charges of 5 years or more incarceration and/or a $50,000 fine. Intent to distribute any amount can bring 20 years incarceration and/or a $50,000 fine.

Sale or delivery of any amount of cannabis – with or without compensation – will bring a mandatory minimum sentence of 1 year or more. Selling or distributing within 1,000 feet of school grounds will bring a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 years, and a sale from an adult to a minor a mandatory minimum sentence of 2 years. All sentences may carry a maximum fine of $50,000.

Those who cultivate more than 1 lb of cannabis face a minimum of 2 years imprisonment and may face life imprisonment. Cultivating less than 1 lb can bring between up to 10 years, but any any subsequent offences may be punishable by twice the imprisonment and twice the fine. Fines of up to $50,000 may be issued regardless of the amount cultivated.

Possession, manufacture or distribution of paraphernalia is considered a misdemeanor and bring a 6 month incarceration spell and/or a $500 fine. Selling paraphernalia to anyone under 18 can bring heavier sentences and fines.

Possessing marijuana on a train results in additional fines and/or penalties.

Storing marijuana results in additional fines and/or penalties.

Anyone convicted of a misdemeanor must attend a mandatory drug education course.

Continuing the cultivation and/or use may after being caught the first time may be punishable by double or triple fine and/or imprisonment.

Felonies may be eligible for suspended/deferred imposition. This means a sentence may be served by including a commitment to drug treatment and rehabilitation, community service and/or driver’s license revocations.

In Montana, marijuana is considered a Schedule I hallucinogenic substance.

Doctors who recommend more than 25 patients a year are referred to the board of medical examiners.

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