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Montana: Medical Marijuana Law Overview and State Fines/Penalties - Archive

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Julie Gardener

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Montana Medical Marijuana Law Overview​

SUMMARY: Sixty-two percent of voters approved Initiative 148 on November 2, 2004. The law took effect that same day. It removes state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who possess written documentation from their physicians authorizing the medical use of marijuana. Patients diagnosed with the following illnesses are afforded legal protection under this act: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe or chronic pain; severe nausea; seizures, including but not limited to seizures caused by epilepsy; or severe or persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to spasms caused by multiple sclerosis or Crohn's disease. Patients (or their primary caregivers) may possess no more than six marijuana plants and one ounce of usable marijuana.. The law establishes a confidential state-run patient registry that issues identification cards to qualifying patients.

Valid medical marijuana registry cards from other medical marijuana states are recognized in this state, so long as the cardholder is in compliance with the possession limits imposed on cardholders in this state.

RECIPROCITY: Yes. Authorizes qualifying patient with registry identification card (or its equivalent) to engage in the medical use of marijuana. Also authorizes a person to assist with a qualifying patient’s medical use of marijuana. Mont. Code Ann. §50-46-201(8) (2009).


Senate Bill 423, which became law on May 14, 2011, amends the state's medical marijuana law. The act is due to go into effect on July 1, 2011. Among the changes mandated by this act:

Chronic pain patients will face more stringent requirements to qualify under the law, and in some cases may require a recommendation from two separate physicians;

Patients found guilty of marijuana DUI will have their medical marijuana privileges revoked;

Advising physicians will be reported to the Board of Medical Examiners if they recommend for more than 25 patients per year; Physician will be responsible for the costs of this investigation;

Caregivers may accept no monetary compensation for providing cannabis to qualified patients.

A comprehensive summary of the primary provisions of SB 423 may be found here. Full text of the measure is online here.

Several provisions of SB 423 are presently being litigated in court.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA STATUTES: Montana Medical Marijuana Act, Mont. Code Ann. §§ 50-46-1 to 50-46-2 (2007).

PATIENT REGISTRATION FEE: $25 new application/$10 renewal

• Registration: Mandatory

For more information and Becoming a Patient in Montana - Archive

CONTACT INFORMATION: Department of Public Health & Human Services - Montana Medical Marijuana Program

Source: NORML
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Julie Gardener

New Member
Montana Marijuana Penalties​


♦ 60 g or less (first offense) - misdemeanor Incarceration 6 months Fine $100 - $500

♦ 60 g or less (subsequent offense) - felony Incarceration 3 years Fine $1,000

♦ More than 60 g - felony Incarceration 20 years Fine $50,000


♦ 1 lb or less - felony Incarceration 10 years Fine $50,000

♦ More than 1 lb (or more than 30 plants) - felony Incarceration 2 year MMS* - life Fine $50,000

♦ Subsequent offenses - felony Incarceration double penalty Fine double penalty

*Mandatory minimum sentence.


♦ Any amount - felony Incarceration 1 year - life Fine $50,000

♦ To a minor - felony Incarceration additional 2 years - life Fine $50,000

♦ Within 1,000 feet of school** - felony Incarceration additional 3 years - life Fine $50,000

** That the person did not know the distance to a school may not be brought as a defense in court.

An affirmative defense may be raised if the conduct took place entirely within a private residence, and that no person under 17 years of age was present in the private residence at any time during the commission of the

Miscellaneous (paraphernalia, license suspensions, drug tax stamps, etc...)

♦ Paraphernalia possession or sale - misdemeanor Incarceration 6 months Fine $500

♦ Any conviction requires dangerous drug information course.

♦ Possible alternative sentencing instead of incarceration.


Possession of 60 grams or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of $100 - $500 for the first conviction. For subsequent convictions the penalties increase to up to three years in prison and a fine up to $1,000. Possession of greater than 60 grams carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $50,000.

Production or manufacture of one pound or less of marijuana is punishable by up to 10 years in jail and a fine up to $50,000. For amounts greater than one pound or more than 30 plants, the penalty includes a two-year mandatory minimum sentence to life in prison and a fine up to $50,000. Subsequent convictions can double the possible sentence.

Sale or distribution of marijuana carries a penalty of 1 year - life in prison and a fine up to $50,000. Sale to a minor carries an additional penalty of 2 years - life in prison and a fine up to $50,000. Any sale within 1,000 feet of a school also adds an additional 3 years - life in prison and a fine up to $50,000.

All dangerous drug convictions require the offender to attend a dangerous drug information course. There is also the possibility of alternative sentencing such as fines, drug treatment, community service or probation if the court feels that incarceration is not warranted.

The penalty for possession or sale of paraphernalia is up to six months in jail and a fine up to $500.

Warning: The information contained in all of the above report is for informational purposes only. Individuals are encouraged to confirm their state's laws before engaging in any particular behavior, or before going to court without a lawyer. Marijuana laws and penalties change rapidly and are enforced and interpreted differently even in the same legal jurisdiction. Please consult a criminal defense lawyer if you have been busted or if you want to know how a particular conduct might be punished. If you spot an error or have information that should be included please let us know.

Source: NORML

Be informed, be well and let's change these state fines and penalties as they are unfair to everyone.


See Montana: Medical Marijuana Law Overview and State Fines/Penalties for more up to date information regarding state laws and penalties.
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