Marijuana laws are changing rapidly, with many states, including Montana, now allowing for use of the herb for medical purposes.
Even though some states have legalized the recreational and medical use of marijuana, it's still illegal under federal laws. Federal laws prohibit possession of any amount of marijuana. A first conviction is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. A second possession offense carries a minimum 15 days to a maximum of two years in jail and a maximum $2,500 fine. A third and subsequent offense has a minimum jail time of 90 days with a maximum of three years and $5,000 fine.
Sale and cultivation of marijuana carry even higher fines and punishment under federal law. First offenses can put someone in jail for five years, and large amounts can put someone in jail for life, with a one million dollar fine.
In addition to federal law, state law in Montana also regulates marijuana possession, sale, and manufacture. Ballot initiative 190 which was passed on November 3, 2020, allows the possession, production, and sale of cannabis by adults 21 and older.
In 2011, the state legislature restricted the use of medical marijuana by limiting dispensaries to 3 users and requiring state review of doctors prescribing medical marijuana to more than 25 patients per year. The voters responded in 2016 by approving another ballot initiative removing those restrictions and expanding medical marijuana use in the state.
Medical Marijuana Requirements
In order to lawfully use medical marijuana in Montana, you must hold a current "registry identification card" issued by the State of Montana. If you're not authorized to use medical marijuana, your use of marijuana within Montana may be looked upon as criminal activity.
In order to grow and use marijuana under the Montana medical marijuana law, patients and caregivers need to register with the Quality Assurance Division of the Department of Public Health and Human Services.
Montana Marijuana Laws At a Glance
Charges and penalties under Montana's marijuana laws are listed in the following table. See FindLaw's Drug Charges section for more articles and resources.
Montana Code Section 45-9-101 (criminal distribution of dangerous drugs)
Montana Code Section 50-32-101 (marijuana definitions)
Montana Code Section 50-46-301 (medical marijuana)
Initiative 190 (“Montana Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.”)
Possession for Personal Use
Possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana is legal
Possession of edibles containing up to 800 mg of THC is legal
The first conviction of possession of more than 1 ounce but less than 2 ounces. Penalties include a fine of up to 200 or the completion of 4 hours of community service.
Second or subsequent conviction. Penalties include a fine of up to $300 or completion of 6 hours of community service.
A fine of up to $50,000, imprisoned for between one (1) year and life imprisonment, or both. Selling to a minor may incur an additional $50,000 fine, at least two (2) years in prison, or both.
Cultivation of up to two mature plants and two seedlings for personal use (or four mature plants and four seedlings for registered cardholders) is legal.
Up to one (1) pound or 30 plants. Penalties include a fine of up to $5,000, up to 10 years in prison, or both.
More than one (1) pound or 30 plants. Penalties include a fine of up to $50,000, and between two (2) years and life imprisonment.
Second and subsequent convictions. Penalties include a fine of up to $100,000, and twice the applicable prison sentence imposed for a first offense for the amount possessed.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Montana Marijuana Laws: Related Resources
Get Professional Legal Assistance With Your Marijuana Case
Sometimes it's hard to see through the haze of ever-changing laws relating to marijuana. However, the consequences of getting it wrong could be significant for you and your loved ones. If you have questions or need someone to advocate on your behalf, there are qualified Montana criminal defense attorneys in your area.