Since enacting the Montana Marijuana Act in 2004, Montana has allowed medical marijuana use under limited circumstances. However, it is still a crime to drive under the influence of marijuana, and other laws regarding marijuana possession for non-medical purposes will still apply.
For information about how Montana treats marijuana possession, sale, and manufacture, see Montana Marijuana Laws.
For information on driving under the influence charges in Montana, see Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana in Montana.
Montana's Medical Marijuana Law
Montana allows medical marijuana use by patients with wasting syndrome, severe or chronic pain or nausea, seizures, or muscle spasms. This law removes the criminal penalties that would otherwise apply to non-medical marijuana possession and use. To gain such protection, patients must obtain a written recommendation from a physician, register with the state, and obtain a registry identification card (to be shown to law enforcement upon demand). Each patient may designate one primary caregiver to help the patient cultivate medicinal marijuana. ("Montana Marijuana Act," Mont.
Legal Possession Amounts
A patient may possess and use up four mature marijuana plants, 12 seedlings, and one ounce of usable marijuana. Primary caregivers may possess—but not use—these amounts for each qualifying patient, and may assist their patients with medical marijuana use. However, caregivers may not be paid for cultivating and providing marijuana to their patients.
Presumption of medical use
A patient or caregiver who possesses a state registry ID card is presumed to be in possession of marijuana for medical purposes when the amount possessed is within the legal limits described above. However, this presumption may be rebutted with evidence that shows that the marijuana was possessed or used for non-medical purposes.
Medical Marijuana Use by Minors
A minor who has a medical condition described above may qualify for medical marijuana use if the minor’s parent or guardian signs a written statement stating that the parent or guardian:
- consents to the minor’s use
- agrees to serve as the minor’s primary caregiver and medicinal marijuana provider
- agrees to control the dosage and frequency of use, and
- limits the minor’s use to marijuana-infused products, not allowing the minor to smoke marijuana.
The parent must also submit his or her own fingerprints to the state, and pledge not to divert any marijuana products towards non-medical use.
Penalties for Illegal Sale and Use
A person may not knowingly or intentionally possess or use medicinal marijuana unless such use is in accordance with the regulations described above. Using medicinal marijuana without a valid prescription and ID card—or possessing more than the legal amount— is punishable with the same penalties imposed for illegal marijuana use and possession, depending on the amount illegally used or possessed. A judge will also revoke a violator’s registration card.
To learn more about Montana marijuana laws and penalties for illegal use or possession, see Montana Marijuana Laws.
An Important Note on Local Legal Representation
If you have been charged with a marijuana-related offense, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. While the penalties and consequences of a marijuana charge are governed by statutory law, only a local criminal defense attorney can tell you how cases like yours tend to be handled by prosecutors and judges in your courthouse.