Montana made its first steps towards becoming a medicinal marijuana state in 2004 with the voter approval of I-140, or the Montana Medical Marijuana Act (pdf). Since then, the state has seen a series of legal battles including numerous instances in 2011 that saw the program's capabilities in limbo.

As of late, Montana seems primed to push on with its medical cannabis program thanks to a 2016 expansion of medical conditions to include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and new legislation to ensure the safety of products sold on the market.

While the state has some less than typical practices in place, its medical marijuana program continues to grow at a gradual pace. Montana truly appears poised to progress into an era of regulations and expanded care. If you are planning on getting your medical marijuana card in Montana, here’s what you need to know.

Possession

As of June 30, 2017, registered cardholders who named a provider are allowed to possess up to one ounce of usable medical cannabis. A registered cardholder who has not named a provider may possess up to four mature plants, four seedlings, and the amount of usable marijuana allowed by the department.

If two or more registered cardholders share a residence and have not named providers, they can have up to eight mature plants, eight seedlings, and the amount of usable marijuana allowed by the department.

*** Any cardholder who possesses mature plants or seedlings must alert the department of the plants' and seedlings' location.

Purchasing Limits

According to the state's official website, cardholders who have named a provider can purchase up to one ounce of retail marijuana flower or its equivalent in concentrates or edibles.

Qualifying Patients

According to Senate Bill No. 333, patients with a "debilitating medical condition" can qualify for a license. Those medical conditions are listed as:

Qualifying Medical Cannabis Conditions

  • Admittance into hospice care in accordance with department rules
  • Cachexia or wasting syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Central nervous system disorder resulting in chronic, painful spasticity or muscle spasms
  • Crohn's disease
  • Epilepsy or an intractable seizure disorder
  • Glaucoma
  • Intractable nausea or vomiting
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Painful peripheral neuropathy
  • Positive status for HIV or AIDS
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Severe chronic pain

Consumption

Unless granted an exemption, no cardholder shall consume medical marijuana in any of the following places in Montana:

Restricted Cannabis Consumption Areas

  • Healthcare facility
  • School or postsecondary school
  • Any property owned or leased by a school or postsecondary school
  • School bus or public transit
  • Public parks, beaches and rec/youth centers
  • Places of worship
  • The open public
  • Any location where children's health could be affected

In short, the only way to legally consume medical marijuana is in a private place away from the public.

Driving Under the Influence

Having a driver’s license does not grant patients the right to operate any vehicle while under the influence of cannabis. In fact, Montana medical marijuana cardholders can lose their privileges if they lose their license due to a DUI. This could result in the patient and/or provider's cards being surrendered for the duration of the suspension.

Transporting and Exporting Marijuana

Registered medical patients are allowed to transport their medicinal cannabis as needed so long as it is not accessed by anyone in the vehicle. While it’s legal to transport medical cannabis in the state (for example, driving home after a purchase at a dispensary) transporting and exporting cannabis of any kind across state lines remains a federal offense

Cultivation

Patients who have not named a provider can cultivate up to four seedlings and four mature plants – with one ounce of usable medicinal marijuana at any time. Patients who have designated a provider are not allowed to grow their own medicinal marijuana.

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