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Montana Marijuana Laws

Wondering what Montana marijuana laws look like? Here’s what you need to know about cannabis in Big Sky Country.

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So, is marijuana legal in Montana?
Let's find out.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Montana since 2004, but there’s so much more you need to know, and as usual, we’re here to provide the information. 

Even though marijuana is legal in Big Sky Country, there are rules guiding the where, when, and how — and if you don’t pay attention to these rules, you could face legal penalties. In this piece, we’ll answer questions covering Montana marijuana laws.

So, what are the Montana marijuana regulations? What are the marijuana laws in Montana?

An Overview of Montana Marijuana Laws

Medical marijuana has been legal in Montana since 2004, when voters approved the Montana Medical Marijuana Act. 

However, under the law, marijuana must be prescribed by a physician and dispensed through licensed dispensaries. Although this legislation allows for medical marijuana to be possessed and consumed, it is still illegal to grow marijuana for personal use without a permit from the state.

Recreational marijuana was made legal in 2021, allowing adults 21 and older to possess and consume marijuana.

A Brief History of Marijuana Legalization in Montana

The legalization of marijuana in Montana can be traced back to 2004, when the state passed medical marijuana, and again in 2020 when it legalized recreational cannabis.

However, here’s a more in-depth timeline of Montana marijuana laws.

  • 2004: A voter-backed initiative called the Montana Medical Marijuana Allowance Initiative, also known as I-148, garnered enough votes to make the ballot in November 2004, where it was approved. Patients with debilitating medical conditions could produce, possess, and use medical marijuana with its approval.
  • 2011: The Montana Marijuana Act, known as SB423, was passed by lawmakers. The law was very restrictive and severely curtailed access to medical marijuana. As a result, access to medical marijuana suffered a sharp decline. Campaigners challenged it in court until August 2016, when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of lawmakers.
  • 2016: The passage of the Montana Medical Marijuana Initiative opened up the medical marijuana program by eliminating the stringent conditions of SB423 and added chronic pain and PTSD as qualifying conditions
  • 2017: SB 433 created a regulatory framework for businesses involved in the manufacturing and production of medical marijuana and created a tax on gross sales.
  • 2018: Montana incorporates the 2018 Farm Bill signed by President Trump, which legalized hemp products containing no more than 0.3% THC. Montana CBD laws are derived from the federal farm bill.
  • 2019: SB265 improved access to medical marijuana by making it possible for patients to get medical marijuana from other providers.
  • 2020: The state approved a ballot initiative known as I-190. It legalized recreational marijuana and possession of less than 1 ounce by adults aged 21 or older. This also legalized home cultivation.

Can you access medical marijuana in Montana? Yes, you can. 

Medical marijuana has been legal in Montana since 2004 when a voter initiative ushered in the state’s first medical marijuana law. 


The initiative, named the Montana Medical Marijuana Allowance Initiative or I-148, won 62% of the popular vote and opened up access to medical marijuana. Patients with debilitating conditions could produce, possess and use medical marijuana.


Montana legal marijuana suffered a setback in 2011 when lawmakers attempted to repeal I-148. 


House Bill 161, a bill to repeal the medical marijuana legalization in Montana, was passed by both houses of the legislature, but, fortunately, Governor Brian Schweitzer vetoed it.



Though the governor vetoed the repeal, the lawmakers still had their way as they rushed through another bill named SB423 that severely curtailed the Montana medical marijuana program. The restrictive bill practically made it impossible for most patients to access medical marijuana.


Some of the restrictions in the bill included the following:

  • Cultivators could assist only three patients, and they can’t receive compensation.
  • The state medical board would audit any doctor who recommended medical marijuana for more than 25 patients in a year.
  • It was illegal to test medical marijuana for safety and potency.
  • Law enforcement officials could enter the homes of medical marijuana providers to conduct a warrantless search, even if it’s private property.

Legalization campaigners didn’t take this blow lying down. They challenged the bill in court but eventually, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the restrictive bill in February 2016.


By August 2016, 93% of Montana’s medical marijuana patients had lost access to a medical marijuana provider.


Still, campaigners were undeterred, and once again, voters took matters into their own hands. On November 8, 2016, at the general elections, voters approved I-182, which removed the restrictive measures of the previous law and established a regulatory structure for businesses. 

Yes, adults aged 21 and older can possess and use up to 1 ounce of marijuana. 


In 2020, voters approved a ballot initiative known as Montana 1-190, which aimed to legalize recreational marijuana in the state. From January 1, 2021, adults were allowed to consume marijuana recreationally.


However, you must understand that there are still regulations guiding Montana recreational weed, and you have to observe them or face the consequences of the law.

Medical patients with an MMJ in Montana have access to a variety of financial benefits. Under the Montana Medical Marijuana Act, registered medical marijuana users do not have to pay state sales tax on marijuana purchases. Additionally, they are eligible for reduced fees when applying for or renewing their MMJ cards.


Moreover, many dispensaries offer discounts and other promotions to medical marijuana patients. These benefits can result in significant savings over time, allowing patients to purchase more medication and devote more of their resources to other healthcare expenses such as doctor visits and medication costs.

The qualifying medical conditions for a medical marijuana card in Montana are:


Cancer: Patients who have been diagnosed with cancer may qualify for medical marijuana treatments if their condition has interfered with the life-sustaining activities of daily living. This includes nausea, pain, impaired appetite, and weight loss due to chemotherapy or radiation treatment.


Chronic Pain: Patients suffering from chronic pain that has lasted longer than six months may be eligible for a medical marijuana card if they have suffered at least three months of unsuccessful treatment options such as physical therapy, medications, or other approved therapies.


Epilepsy: Patients suffering from epilepsy or seizures may qualify for a medical marijuana card if they have experienced at least three months of unsuccessful treatment such as medications or surgeries.


Glaucoma: Patients with glaucoma can apply for a medical marijuana card if their condition has not responded to conventional treatments such as prescription medications and/or surgery.


HIV/AIDS: Patients with HIV/AIDS may qualify for a medical marijuana card if their condition has caused them physical pain and suffering due to the weakened immune system.


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Individuals diagnosed with PTSD may be eligible for a medical marijuana card if they suffer from severe symptoms including nightmares, flashbacks, severe anxiety, depression, insomnia and irritability that interfere with daily living activities despite traditional forms of treatment like psychotherapy and/or medication management being used unsuccessfully to treat the disorder over a period of time.


Cachexia (wasting syndrome): Patients diagnosed with cachexia or wasting syndrome resulting from an underlying chronic illness can qualify for a medical marijuana card if they cannot achieve relief through approved traditional treatments such as prescription drugs or nutritional supplements prescribed by their healthcare provider over an extended period of time.

Marijuana dispensaries in Montana must be licensed and registered, and owners must undergo a background check. All dispensary employees must have a valid work permit.


Dispensaries licensed to sell recreational marijuana can sell only recreational marijuana, and those licensed to sell medical marijuana can sell only medical marijuana. For detailed Montana dispensary laws and requirements, click here.

Are you allowed to grow your marijuana in Montana? 


Yes, at-home cultivation is legal in Big Sky Country! But, you must understand Montana marijuana growing laws to keep to the legal limits.


You must cultivate your plants in a private space and it must not be visible to the public. 


If your plants are visible to the public, you face a civil fine of up to $250 and forfeiture of the plants.

If you’re interested in growing your plants, the state has no problem with that! However, there are limits. So, how many marijuana plants can you grow in Montana?


Adults can grow up to two plants and two seedlings for personal use, while patients can grow up to 12 seedlings and four mature plants.

What if you’re from out of state and want to buy medical marijuana in Montana? Montana does not have reciprocity, so it does not recognize out-of-state MMJ cards.


However, adults from out of state can buy recreational marijuana in Montana.

As we’ve mentioned, regulations guide the possession and use of marijuana in Montana. Patients aged 18 and above who wish to register in the Montana medical marijuana program and obtain a Montana medical marijuanas card must have a qualifying condition and a doctor’s recommendation.


On the other hand, patients under 18 must designate a parent or legal guardian as their provider.


The qualifying conditions for an MT medical card include:


Cannabis is legal, but it’s not an all-you-can-eat buffet. For recreational marijuana, adults aged 21 or older can possess a maximum of 1 ounce at a time.


Penalties for possession of more than 1 ounce but less than 2 ounces include a fine of up to $200 or 4 hours of community service. Second and subsequent convictions attract a fine of up to $300 or 6 hours of community service. Possession of more than 2 ounces is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or fines up to $45,000.


For medical marijuana, the limit is also 1 ounce.

Can you consume marijuana anywhere you like in Montana? Unfortunately not.


It is prohibited to possess or consume marijuana in public spaces like parks, schools, buses, and public buildings.


It’s also illegal to consume cannabis on all federal properties, including lands and waters, because marijuana is still illegal at the federal level.


Except for medical marijuana, you can’t possess or use marijuana in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.


Of course, you can’t drive under the influence of marijuana. 


You can have marijuana in your car, but the law around this one is very tight. The product must be unopened, in its original packaging, and stored outside the “passenger area.” That leaves your glove and luggage compartment, truck bed, and cargo area as the only places you can keep marijuana in your car.


A conviction for possessing the legal quantity of marijuana in your car outside these designated areas carries a maximum fine of $100.

The total THC limit permitted in recreational marijuana is 35%. 


Edibles can contain up to 10mg of THC per serving and a maximum of 100mg in an entire package, while topical products can contain no more than 6% THC and 800mg of THC per package.


Capsules, transdermal patches, and suppositories can contain no more than 100mg of THC and a maximum of 800mg of THC in an entire package.


The THC limit does not apply to medical marijuana.

Elevate Holistics: You Can’t Miss a Marijuana Beat in Montana

If there’s one certain thing about marijuana and consumers, it’s that people have lots of questions. Is it legal? Where can you buy it? What are the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana? These questions are part of the reason Elevate Holistics exists – and we have the answers for you.

Do you have questions or inquiries about medical cannabis? Talk to us. Do you need help getting an MMJ card, finding a physician, or locating a dispensary? We can help. Contact us today, and let’s get started.

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