Montana Cannabis Laws

Is Cannabis Legal In Montana?
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StateRecreationalMedical MarijuanaCBD

Federal Law:

Recreational Medical MarijuanaCBD

Is recreational cannabis legal in Montana?

Yes. Recreational adult-use cannabis had been illegal in Montana since the state’s prohibition in 1929. Like many other states that have legalized full-strength medical marijuana, recreational lobbyists diligently worked to bring forth rescheduling legislation. 

New Approach Montana submitted ballot initiatives to legalize adult-use cannabis in the state and by 2020, Montana’s Secretary of State announced they’ve been qualified for the upcoming election. 

The Marijuana Legalization and Tax Initiative, Montana I-190, was approved by voters on November 3, 2020. I-190 legalizes possession and use of up to 1 oz of marijuana and 8 grams of concentrate for adults 21 and older. Adults qualifying may also cultivate up to 4 plants per household. The 20% sales tax imposed on all marijuana products forwards proceeds to “veterans services, conservation programs, substance abuse treatment, long-term healthcare, and municipal services.” 

Since legalization in November 2020, dispensaries are not yet operational, and the state is awaiting a timeline for regulations. But I-190 mandates expediency, as that the state must begin accepting licenses no later than January 1, 2022.

Is Medical Marijuana legal in Montana?

Yes. Montana first legalized a medical marijuana program in 2004, with the approved ballot initiative, the Montana Medical Marijuana Act (Measure I-148). 

Despite this landmark act, in 2011, the Montana legislature attempted to repeal I-148 because incumbents felt the program was growing too rapidly. While they were unsuccessful in repealing the Act, access to medical marijuana cards was heavily restricted. 

These restrictions didn’t last long, as Initiative I-182 in 2016 passed with majority approval loosening the rules on quantities and recipients granted access to medical marijuana. Qualifying conditions were broadened, adding PTSD. 

In 2020, since the legalization of recreational use – medical marijuana cardholders will be able to purchase cannabis from any state registered dispensary when licensed. 

Are CBD products legal in Montana? 

Yes. Since the passage of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, hemp-derived CBD products are legal under federal law in the United States, as long as they contain at most 0.3% THC. 

Any and all CBD in food and drink is still federally illegal.

What’s Montana’s medical marijuana sales tax?

SB 333, passed in 2017, regulates the Montana medical marijuana program imposing a 4% tax on medical marijuana products. 

What’s Montana’s cannabis sales tax?

As cited in the recently passed I-190, the sales tax for recreational cannabis is 20%, not including local city/county excise taxes. ,,

Montana’s Cannabis Timeline:

1929: Montana’s cannabis prohibition begins. 

1937: The Marihuana (archaic spelling of Marijuana) Tax Act was enacted banning cannabis at the federal level. Medical Marijuana use was still permitted.

1951: The Boggs Act, Sponsored by Hale Boggs and signed into law under President Harry S. Truman, This act set mandatory sentencing and increased punishment for cannabis possession. 

1969: The Marihuana Tax Act is deemed unconstitutional in the landmark Leary v. United States. Timothy Leary, a professor, and activist, because the act required self-incrimination, which violated his Fifth Amendment rights. (The self-incrimination clause provides various protections against self-incrimination, including the right of an individual to not serve as a witness in a criminal case in which they are the defendant, better known as “Pleading the Fifth.”) The court’s unanimous opinion was penned by Justice John Marshall Harlan II and declared the Marihuana Tax Act unconstitutional. Therefore, Leary’s conviction was overturned.

1970: The Controlled Substances Act is enacted (replacing the unconstitutional Marihuana Tax Act). Cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug, determined to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, thereby prohibiting its use for any purpose. This act was signed into law by President Richard Nixon. 

This legislation created five classifications, with specific qualifications for a substance to be included in each. The substances scheduling (classification) is determined by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Yet, Congress does have the power to schedule or de-schedule substances through legislation. Substance scheduling decisions are based on its potential for abuse, accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and international treaties.

Classification of Controlled Substances:

Schedule I: High potential of abuse, not acceptable for medical use

Schedule II: High potential of abuse, sometimes allowed with “severe restrictions” for medical use

Schedule II: Medium potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use

Schedule IV: Moderate potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use

Schedule V: Lowest potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use

1984-1986: Mandatory Sentencing and the three-strikes law were created under the Reagan Administration. This accounts for some of the harshest drug laws designed creating the death penalty’s promotion against “drug kingpins.”

1998: House Joint Resolution 117, encouraged by the passing of California’s Prop 215, the House of Representatives passed this measure to support the existing Federal legal process for determining the safety and efficacy of certain drugs.  

2004: Montana Medical Marijuana Act, Measure I-148, approved via the popular vote 

2014: The Rohrabacher–Farr Amendment passed in the U.S. House and signed into law prohibiting the Justice Department from interfering with the implementation of state medical cannabis laws.

2011: Montana legislature attempted to repeal I-148. Instead, it was successful in restricting access to medical marijuana cards. 

2016: Initiative I-182 passed with majority approval loosening the rules on quantities, and recipients granted medical marijuana access. Qualifying conditions were also broadened adding PTSD.

2017: SB 333 passed further regulating the Montana medical marijuana program and imposed a 4% tax on medical marijuana products. 

2018: Farm bill legalizes low-THC hemp nationwide and effectively de-schedules hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) from the Controlled Substances Act. 

November 2020: The Marijuana Legalization and Tax Initiative, Montana I-190, was approved by voters.

January 2022: Montana must begin accepting licenses.

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