Montana Marijuana Business Guide
Although medical marijuana use is legal in Montana, state law still classifies pot as a Schedule I drug that has no “recognized” medical benefits. In 2004, nearly 63 percent of Montana residents approved Initiative 148, which eliminated criminal charges for using or cultivating medical marijuana by people who had obtained documentation signed by a qualified physician stating they were suffering from chronic and/or “wasting” disorders.
Enforcing some of the stricter pot laws in the U.S. Montana has not yet decriminalized recreational pot. Neither do lawmakers have any bills floating around that propose legalizing the use and sale of recreational marijuana. At the moment, Montana does not appear to be one of the numerous states that are actively pursuing marijuana legalization but random polls suggest that the majority of Montana residents favor decriminalization as well as legalization of pot for personal use.
If caught with less than 60 grams of pot, you will be charged with a misdemeanor, given a six-month county jail sentence and fined up to $500 (this charge applies to paraphernalia possession as well). In other words, getting busted in Montana with only one gram is enough to incur a lengthy jail stay. A second misdemeanor charge of possessing less than 60 grams means a judge could give you a one-year jail sentence or three years at a state prison, in addition to a $1000 fine.
Selling any amount of pot gives a Montana judge the right to charge you with a felony and sentence you to one year or life in prison. When released, you will also have to pay a $50,000 fine. Because pot is considered a dangerous and addictive drug in Montana, arrestees will automatically receive a sentence of three years in prison for selling pot near or on school property. If it is your second conviction of such a charge, you could get a life sentence.
When someone is caught cultivating pot in Montana, it is assumed they are growing marijuana with the intent to sell. Felony “trafficking” of pot plants (less than one pound or around 25 to 30 plants) may get you a 10-year prison term and a $50,000 fine. Growing over one pound of pot and getting caught means you are looking a possible life sentence.
Medical Marijuana Laws in Montana
People diagnosed by professional medical doctors with wasting syndrome (cachexia); chronic pain; seizures; chronic nausea; Crohn’s diseases and severe muscle spasms such as those occurring in multiple sclerosis are permitted to apply for a medical marijuana card with the state registry and grow their own pot for medicinal purposes. Montana also allows patients to have caregivers who can grow medicinal marijuana for them in the event their medical condition renders them unable to perform the necessary actions.
Patients or their caregivers are permitted to have 12 seedlings, no more than four mature plants and one ounce of ready-to-use pot at any one time. Caregivers are not allowed to be paid by medical marijuana patients for assisting them in growing or procuring pot intended for medicinal purposes.
Amendment to Senate Bill 423
In 2011, Montana’s state senate amended the original medical marijuana law and effected changes that include the following:
- Patients diagnosed with some kind of chronic pain disorder will need two recommendations from two different doctors
- Patients charged with driving while under the influence of marijuana will have their right to use medical marijuana revoked.
- Physicians recommending over 25 patients annually for medical marijuana treatment will have to report to the Board of Medical Examiners and pay for the Board to review their practice, diagnoses and patients who were recommended.
Minor children diagnosed with chronic diseases may be eligible for a Montana medical marijuana card if the minor’s legal guardian (s) signs a statement asserting they are the minor’s legal parent or guardian and that they give permission for the minor to use medical marijuana.CLICK TO DOWNLOAD THE MONTANA MARIJUANA ACT SB423
CLICK TO DOWNLOAD THE AMENDED MARIJUANA ACT SB423
Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in Montana
Currently, Montana permits over 30 dispensaries to operate throughout the state, with one in Billings, two in Missoula and three in Belgrade. The number of dispensaries established in a town or city is determined by that municipality’s city council.
To be eligible to apply for a dispensary license, you must be a resident of Montana, verify through documentation that you do not have felony or drug convictions on your record, do not owe taxes or judgments to a government agency and have not defaulted on student loans issued by the Department of Education. If an application is rejected, the rejection can be repealed and placed under judicial review.
The chance that Montana lawmakers might reverse their harsh and contradictory stance on non-medical pot use seems slim. However, as more states start to decriminalize and/or legalize marijuana in response to U.S. society’s changing views regarding the efficacy of medical marijuana, Montana’s House and Senate members may be persuaded to change their minds when they see Colorado and Washington’s economies quadruple in size following the establishment and taxation of retail recreational pot shops in those states.
Video on Medical Marijuana in Montana
http://www.mtrules.org/BookView/Default.asp?chpt=37.107 (rules for applying for a provider’s license)
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