Is Weed Legal in Montana?

Is recreational cannabis legal in Montana? Is medicinal marijuana legal in Montana? What about Montana's CBD laws? Find out about the weed laws in Montana in this article.

We note that the subject contained in this article represents illegal activity in certain jurisdictions. Whilst we do not condone any acts which are contrary to any such laws, we understand that readers in those jurisdictions which have decriminalised cannabis may find this article of interest.

Montana is the fourth-largest state in the US and shares its northern border with Canada. The state is named from the Spanish word montaña, meaning 'mountain' or 'mountainous country' – and mountainous it is!

The western side of the state is clearly  separated  by the Continental Divide. The western side is home to one hundred or more of Montana's named mountain ranges which are a part of the greater Rocky Mountains.

Montana is also home to much of Yellowstone National Park, the first national park in the US and perhaps the world. Originally established in 1892 by President Ulysses S. Grant, Yellowstone is home to the Yellowstone Caldera – a dormant super volcano.

As White settlement began in Montana in the late 1800s, there was devastating conflict between the Native Americans of the area. From 1879 to 1887,  there were a number of major battles and surviving Native Americans who signed treaties were required to relocate onto reservations. Today, Montana has one of the highest Native American populations of any US state, in numbers and in percentages.

Tourism is one of the fastest-growing industries in Montana, with millions flocking to see the mountain ranges and spectacular natural beauty the state has to offer. If you're going to check out the Rockies, check out whether or not you can smoke with your head in the clouds. Read on to find out if weed is legal in Montana.

Is recreational cannabis legal in Montana?

Recreational cannabis use was made illegal in 1929 and is still classified as an illegal substance, carrying minimum sentences and hefty fines. The decision was made to make cannabis illegal following a House Health Committee meeting, in which a Dr Fred Fulsher made racist comments towards Mexican workers, stating that after a few puffs, "some been field peon thinks he has just been elected the President of Mexico so he starts out to execute all his political enemies."

Possession of 60 grams or less is considered a misdemeanor for first and second offences. For a first offence, the maximum penalty is a $500 fine and six months incarceration. For a second offence, the penalty jumps to a $1,000 fine and up to three years in jail.

Possession of over 60 grams becomes a felony and carries up to five years in jail and up to a $50,000 fine. Intent to distribute carries the same $50,00 maximum fine, but up to 20 years incarceration.

In addition to the fines and jail sentences, anyone convicted of a misdemeanor drug crime must attend a dangerous drug information course. There are options to seek suspended or deferred imprisonment for felonies involving dangerous drugs. These are dependent on eligibility and conditions, which may include commitment to a drug treatment facility, community service house in a drug education or treatment facility, or driver's license revocations of up to three years. If a deferred or suspended sentence is approved, the minimum fine of $100 still applies.

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Is medicinal marijuana legal in Montana?

Initiative 148 was passed in 2004 with 62% of the vote,making medicinal marijuana legal in the state of Montana. Rep. Jim Shockley was opposed to the bill – suggesting that it would do more harm than good by reducing the perceived danger of cannabis, which he believed to have no medicinal value.

A few years later in 2011, House Bill 161 was proposed which effectively repealed  medicinal marijuana in its entirety. Luckily, it didn't make it through the government. Senate Bill 423 passed later in the same year which gave more defined conditions for qualification, arguing that the original bill was too vague. This bill also put a strict three-patient limit on physicians.

In 2016, voters approved Initiative 182 which removed the three-patient limit and added Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying conditions. Like most legal states, patients need signed paperwork from their physician stating that they are suffering from a qualifying condition prior to having access to medicinal marijuana.

Qualifying conditions include cancer, hospice care, HIV/AIDS, Crohn's Disease, glaucoma and painful peripheral neuropathy. The law also covers severe nausea, severe muscle spasms and seizures such as those caused by epilepsy.

Patients who have named a provider are able to possess one ounce of usable marijuana. Patients who have not nominated an outside provider are able to possess up to 4 mature plants and 4 seedlings in addition to the usable ounce.

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Is CBD legal in Montana?

The US Federal Government signed the Farm Bill into effect in 2018, legalising cannabidiol (CBD) products with a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of less than 0.3%. Both CBD and THC are compounds found in cannabis, but only THC is psychoactive, meaning CBD products can give all of the positives of cannabis use without becoming intoxicated.

So if you can't get high, why bother?

Well, CBD has been shown to have some pretty impressive impacts on many aspects, including pain and inflammation, anxiety, stress and muscle recovery. Currently, there are a number of ways of accessing CBD products including topical creams, ingestible oils, vapour inhalers and edibles.

CBD is already popular in the UK, and it looks like the Australian government might be allowing over-the-counter CBD sales in the near future.

The CBD industry is proving to be an impressive one, with profits set to overtake online gambling before too long. With its popularity and recent legal status, there have been increased studies into some of the great opportunities CBD products provide in natural medicine.

So far, it has been suggested the CBD products help reduce cigarette smoking and there are more in depth studies on the way to find how helpful CBD can be in treating epileptic seizures.

UFC are even teaming up with a CBD company to research how their products can be used to assist in muscle recovery and aid the sparring legends in coming back bigger and better each fight.

It is such a booming industry that a number of celebrities are getting on board, including Kristen Bell's new CBD skincare line Happy Dance, and Tony Hawk's muscle recovery line with CannaHempX.

It's clear there are plenty of positives in the land of CBD-derived products, and as legality increases around the world, there will no doubt be an increased understanding of the plethora of benefits CBD can provide.

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Laura Desmond
Laura Desmond

Laura Desmond is an Adelaide-based writer with a keen interest in the arts, gender politics and social change. She is currently working to obtain a Master in Writing through Swinburne University.