Montana marijuana laws

Published on September 4, 2020 · Last updated August 13, 2022

Is weed legal in Montana?

Current legality status


Cannabis is legal under state law for adults 21+.

Recreational and medical marijuana are legal in Montana. The state voted to legalize recreational use in November 2020. Recreational sales began on January 1, 2022.

Montana recreational weed laws

In the November 2020 election, Montana residents voted in favor of recreational cannabis—via Initiative 190—by a margin of 57-43. Treasure State voters simultaneously passed Constitutional Initiative 118, which amends the state constitution to set the legal age of cannabis consumption at 21, by similar margins.

The possession of up to one ounce of cannabis became legal on January 1, 2021. Recreational sales began exactly one year later.

In a unique move designed to support in-state businesses, both the voter initiative and House Bill 701—the state’s framework legalization bill that eventually replaced the voter initiative—include an eighteen-month moratorium on new licenses.

When the moratorium expires, on July 1, 2023, new in-state businesses and out-of-state operators alike will be able to enter the Montana market.

Adult-use cannabis is taxed at a flat rate of 20% across Montana. Medical marijuana patients pay a 4% flat tax on their purchases.

Counties are additionally permitted to enact a 3% local-option tax on recreational and/or medical marijuana. Missoula and Dawson counties have a local tax on recreational marijuana. Park and Yellowstone counties enacted a local tax on both recreational and medical marijuana. 

Adults may cultivate up to two mature (flowering) plants at home in Montana, with a maximum of four plants per household.

Medical marijuana patients may cultivate twice as many: up to four mature plants and four seedlings.

House Bill 701 permits cannabis sales exclusively in Montana counties that voted in favor of legalization. Any county, however, can vote to switch from a “green” county to a “red” county, or vice versa, in a local election. Roughly half of Montana’s 51 counties permit recreational sales.

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While state law allows businesses to advertise their logos and list menus online (without prices), it prevents them from advertising specific products. 

Montana marijuana possession laws

Adults 21 or older may legally possess up to one ounce of cannabis flower, or its equivalent in other forms

Possession of larger quantities of marijuana remains illegal in Montana, and punishments can be severe: The possession of 1-2 ounces is subject to fines of up to $500. The possession of more than 2 ounces is considered a felony, and is punishable by up to five years in prison and/or fines of up to $45,000.

Montana recreational cannabis legalization

In the midst of the coronavirus shutdown, a campaign led by New Approach Montana gathered enough signatures to place two legalization initiatives on the 2020 ballot, even though state officials prevented them from gathering signatures virtually: 

  • Initiative 190 legalized recreational marijuana in Montana, established a regulatory framework for cultivation and sales, and taxed sales at a flat rate of 20%. 
  • CI-118 set the legal age for purchasing, consuming, or possessing marijuana at 21—otherwise, Montana defines an adult as someone 18 years or older.

Even though voters passed the initiative by solid margins (and it was earlier approved to appear on the ballot by the Montana Secretary of State), prohibitionist lawmakers nonetheless attempted—and failed—to block implementation of the program. Initiative 190 proposed directing the bulk of revenue generated by rec sales toward land conservation and services for veterans, who comprise about 10% of the state’s population. Prohibitionists argued that it was thus unconstitutional, because ballot initiatives cannot allocate revenue. 

The state’s Republican-controlled legislature did succeed, however, in throwing out the voter initiative and replacing it with a new legalization framework bill, HB701. Their initial draft of the bill would have been extremely restrictive, but a bipartisan group of state senators reworked it into a largely functional framework bill. 

Montana law caps recreational flower at 35% THC and caps edibles at 10mg of THC per piece, and 100mg per package.

The law notably allocates a single combined-use retail and cultivation for each of the state’s eight tribes. That license can only be used off-reservation.

Montana cannabis sentence expungement process

In March 2022, the Montana Supreme Court published a simple how-to expungement guide for residents with low-level marijuana charges. Individuals must petition for expungement in the same court that convicted them.

Montana medical marijuana laws

Medical use: 2004

Prohibitionist lawmakers have regularly derailed Montana’s medical marijuana program since it was first passed into law in 2004. 

Initially, the medical marijuana program grew quickly, but in 2011 federal authorities aggressively raided dispensaries and grows across the state.

Later that same year, the state Legislature approved a measure that limited dispensaries to serving no more than three total patients, effectively killing the program.

Court challenges delayed the implementation of that law for years. When it finally took effect in 2016, it booted 93% of Montana’s medical cannabis patients off the state program and into the illicit market.

In a complete reversal, later in 2016, voters approved a new statewide measure that repealed the three-patient rule. It took nearly three years for the program to return to pre-2011 patient levels. 

In spring 2020, the state ended its “tethering” policy, in which patients could only purchase their medicine from a single provider. 

After voters approved recreational cannabis in 2020, both the medical program and the adult-use program came under the purview of the Department of Revenue’s newly-formed Cannabis Control Division (CCD). The CCD maintains a website with instructions and FAQs for patients, adult-use customers and providers alike.

Minors are eligible for the medical marijuana program with the consent of a legal guardian and the approval of two physicians.

There are roughly 40,000 patients and just under 400 dispensaries in the state. As of 2020, Montana had the third highest number of dispensaries per capita of all US states, and the city of Missoula has some of the highest dispensary per capita rates of any city in the country.

How to get a medical marijuana card in Montana

Montana residents can apply for a medical marijuana card via the TransAction Portal. They will need to pay a passport-style photo, $20 processing fee, and include a physician’s recommendation in their application.

How much does a medical marijuana card cost in Montana?

A medical marijuana card costs $20 in Montana, and must be renewed annually for $10. Additionally, patients must pay about $150 for a physician’s evaluation as part of their annual application. 

Qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in Montana

Roughly 40,000 Montanans have state-issued medical marijuana cards. A physician may recommend the use of medical marijuana for the following conditions:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome when the condition or disease results in symptoms that seriously and adversely affect the patient’s health status
  • Cachexia or wasting syndrome 
  • Severe chronic pain that is persistent pain of severe intensity that significantly interferes with daily activities as documented by the patient’s treating physician 
  • Intractable nausea or vomiting 
  • Epilepsy or an intractable seizure disorder 
  • Multiple sclerosis 
  • Crohn’s disease 
  • Painful peripheral neuropathy 
  • A central nervous system disorder resulting in chronic, painful spasticity or muscle spasms 
  • Admittance into hospice care 
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Should I keep my Montana medical marijuana card?

Even though all adults can buy marijuana in Montana, medical patients have several incentives to renew their cards.

For one, medical marijuana potency is not capped. Adult-use cannabis cannot contain more than 35% THC.

Although tax rates vary from county to county in Montana, medical patients typically pay 4% in taxes, instead of the 23% rate for recreational purchases.

Montana marijuana homegrow laws

Starting Jan. 1, 2021, adults may cultivate up to two mature (flowering) plants at home in Montana, with a maximum of four plants per household.

Medical marijuana patients may cultivate up to four mature plants and four seedlings.

Montana cannabis DUI laws

It’s illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol, cannabis, or other controlled substances in Montana. According to NORML, “it is a crime to operate a motor vehicle with 5ng/ml or more THC in [your] blood. This prohibition applies to both patients and non-patients alike.”

If a driver refuses a drug test, law enforcement will immediately seize their license. Upon a first refusal of a test, the state will suspend their license for six months with no provision for a restricted probationary license; upon a second or subsequent refusal within 5 years of a previous refusal, as determined from the records of the department, the state will enact a one year with no provision for a restricted probationary license.

Furthermore, Montana law dictates that anyone traveling with marijuana in their car must keep It in its unopened, original packaging and stored outside of the car’s “passenger area;” i.e. locked in a trunk or glove compartment.

Common questions about marijuana legalization in Montana

Is recreational cannabis legal in Montana?

Yes. Montana legalized recreational use in November 2020. Sales began on January 1, 2022.

Is CBD legal in Montana?

Yes, but there’s one big caveat: dispensaries cannot sell smokable hemp. Ironically, other businesses whose employees may not be familiar with the products—gas stations, grocery stores—can continue to do so.

Can my landlord prohibit marijuana growing, possession, and use in my own unit? 

Yes and no. The written permission of a landlord is needed to grow cannabis on-premise. But a landlord may prohibit growing, smoking, vaping, and dabbing, citing real or potential property destruction and/or odor nuisance.

Are there places in Montana where marijuana possession remains outlawed? 

Yes. Cannabis remains illegal on federal property, including national parks, national forests, reservations, land managed by the US Bureau of Land Management, federal prisons, and all federal buildings and offices regardless of department. Federally subsidized housing units also prohibit all forms of cannabis, including simple possession. 

How many recreational dispensaries are in Montana?

Customers can buy marijuana at roughly 400 recreational dispensaries across the state.

This page was last updated on May 12, 2022.

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Post last updated Nov. 4, 2020

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