Equity Project State Briefing
Is Cannabis Legal in Montana?
Cannabis in Montana is legal for both medical and adult use.
Date of Legalization
Montana legalized cannabis for medical use in 2004 through voter initiative I 148. The state similarly authorized cannabis for adult use in the 2020 election through voter Initiative 190 which went into effect January 1, 2021.
Administrative rules related to Montana’s adult use Cannabis framework can be found in Title 42, Chapter 39 of the Administrative Rules of Montana
Within Montana’s adult use framework adults 21+ may possess, purchase, obtain, use or transport up to 1 ounce of usable marijuana, except that not more than 8 grams may be in a concentrated form and not more than 800 milligrams of THC may be in edible marijuana products meant to be eaten or swallowed in solid form.
Adults may cultivate up to two mature marijuana plants and two seedlings for private use in a private residence, subject to certain restrictions.Within Montana’s medical framework, patients may possess up to 1ounce but may purchase a maximum of 5 ounces of usable marijuana a month and no more than 1 ounce of usable marijuana a day.
Medical cardholders may cultivate up to four mature plants and four seedlings for private use in a private residence.
Other Licensing Provisions
- License Caps:
Montana limits available licenses, however this cap only applies to the number of combined-use marijuana licenses. The department may issue a total of eight combined-use marijuana licenses to entities. These entities include, a federally recognized tribe located in the state, or a business entity that is majority-owned by a federally recognized tribe located in the state. A combined-use marijuana license consists of one tier one canopy license and one dispensary. However, the licensed premises must be located in a jurisdiction that permits the operation of a marijuana as jurisdictions must opt in to participate in the adult use sector.
Application Selection Process
- Selection System:
Montana has a merit-based award system used to distribute adult use licenses.
Felony Disqualification on Ownership
- Ownership Exclusion for Felony Convictions:
- Exemption for Cannabis Offenses:
Montana’s adult use framework disqualifies applicants for cannabis licensure on the basis of their conviction history. The department may not issue a license if (1) the applicant is currently under department of corrections supervision, (2) if the applicant has been convicted of fraud under the states medical marijuana program or (3) if the applicant has a felony conviction or a conviction for a drug offense, including but not limited to, a conviction for a violation of any marijuana law in any other state within the past 5 years, and after an investigation, the department finds that the applicant has not been sufficiently rehabilitated as to warrant the public trust.
Employee Criminal Records
- Conviction Restrictions for Employees:
- Exemption for Cannabis Offenses:
A marijuana worker permit is required for an employee who performs work on behalf of a cannabis business. State law requires that applicants for a marijuana worker’s permit respond to questions concerning their conviction history and during the course of employment report any convictions within 10 days. The statute does not specify any disqualifying offenses or procedures for considering an applicant’s criminal history.
Montana regulators are currently proposing an employment disqualification for folks with felony convictions within the last three years. A public hearing on the proposed rules was held on November 30, 2021, however the results of the proposed regulations have not yet been published.
UPDATE: New rules effective 02/01/2022. See HB 701
Availability of Expungements
Montana offers record cleaning for certain cannabis convictions, however the process is not automatic. Individuals with qualifying cannabis convictions may ask the court to expunge or reduce their conviction.