While Montana voters strongly supported a measure to legalize medical marijuana, the state has some of the harshest recreational marijuana laws in the United States.
Recreational Marijuana in Montana
Possession of any amount of marijuana without a medical license is a serious crime in Montana. Any amount less than 60 grams is a misdemeanor, and even a first offense is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a fine of $500. Subsequent offenses can be punished by as much as 3 years in prison, as well as $1,500 in fines. Possession of any amount above 60 grams is a felony.
Additionally, possession with intent to distribute, or sale/delivery of marijuana are penalized extremely harshly. Possession of any amount of marijuana, no matter how small, with the intent to distribute, constitutes a felony that can be punished by as much as 20 years in prison. Sale or delivery of marijuana is also a felony, carrying a mandatory minimum sentence of 1 year.
Medical Marijuana in Montana
Medical marijuana patients won a major victory in 2004, when voters passed Initiative 148 with 62% of the vote. Senate Bill 423 passed in 2011 to expand the state’s list of approved conditions. Since, the Montana government has enacted policies that create severely limited medical marijuana access, but just recently voters passed an initiative that expands the program and removes the restrictions that had been preventing patients from accessing the medicinal cannabis they need.
Like in other medical marijuana states, patients in Montana must have a written statement from a doctor and be approved by the state’s medical marijuana program.
Qualifying conditions for medical marijuana include:
- Cachexia or Wasting Syndrome
- Chronic Pain
- Crohn’s Disease
- HIV / AIDS
- Hospice Care
- Painful Peripheral Neuropathy
- Severe Nausea
- Seizures, including those caused by Epilepsy
- Severe or Persistent Muscle Spasms, including those caused by Multiple Sclerosis
In November 2016, 58 percent of voters approved Initiative-182 to repeal what had been a three-patient limit for medical providers. Previously, marijuana providers (caregivers) were limited to assisting 3 patients and were not allowed to accept anything of value, including money, for the services or products they provided to medical marijuana patients. These limitations, set forth by the passing of SB 423, were repealed with the approval of Initiative-182.
Initiative-182 also amended the list of approved conditions to include:
As of November 2016, there were 7,785 patients currently enrolled in the medical marijuana program, with 6,765 that have no provider. There were also 522 providers in the state, and 172 physicians who had patients enrolled in the program.
CBD from Hemp Oil in Montana
Consumption of CBD hemp oil is federally legal, as CBD hemp oil falls under the same importation and commerce laws as other hemp products. Montana has passed no further legislation specifically related to cannabidiol from hemp oil, so CBD hemp oil is legal to purchase and use.
Cultivation of Cannabis in Montana
Montana became one of the first states to legalize hemp for industrial purposes. In 2001, Montana passed Senate Bill 261, which categorized industrial hemp as an agricultural crop, so long as it contained less than 0.3 percent THC. The law also created licensing procedures for farmers to be allowed to grow hemp commercially. The law was largely symbolic at the time, as it also contained a request to the federal government to allow the law to be enacted without federal interference. Few hemp growers have been licensed in part due to federal regulations, but this may change, as federal policies become more industrial-hemp friendly.
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