MARIJUANA FAQ

With the turn of the calendar, adult-use recreational marijuana has become available for purchase in Montana. The launch of the new market raises a wide range of questions, from how much marijuana an individual can possess, to whether they can consume it in a national park, to the types of products that will be available for purchase.

Montana Free Press has put together a guide to answer some of those questions.

Who can buy marijuana in Montana?

Starting Jan. 1, 2022, any adult age 21 or older can purchase marijuana and marijuana products. That includes Montana residents, residents of other American states and territories and international travelers with valid identification.

What do I need to bring with me to a dispensary?

Bring identification proving that you are 21 years of age.

Virtually all marijuana transactions are in cash due to ongoing federal restrictions on banking services for the industry. Bring your own to avoid paying ATM fees at the shop.

Will the state track my purchases?

No. While a business can make a scan of your identification “to determine the consumer’s age,” per House Bill 701, the state’s legalization framework bill, it can only keep those records for 180 days. Furthermore, dispensaries are not permitted to share that information with the state, nor can they transfer or sell it to a third party.

What kinds of products can I purchase?

Customers will be able to purchase a wide array of products including marijuana flower (the smokable green buds), edibles, tinctures, vaporizer cartridges, concentrates and topicals. These products must be produced within the state of Montana.

Marijuana flower cannot contain more than 35% THC, the most common psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant. Flower typically contains between 15% and 25% THC, and is available in various strains.

Edibles are available in many forms, including chocolates, gummies, infused olive oils and more. A package of recreational market edibles cannot contain more than 100mg of THC (again, this does not apply to medical patients).

Businesses will also be able to sell CBD products. CBD (technically known as cannabidiol) is typically derived from federally legal hemp, and is sold in edible, tincture, topical and other forms. Those products can be manufactured within Montana or imported from other states.

Pot shops cannot sell hemp plant material.

Is marijuana tested in Montana?

Yes. All products must be tested for a wide range of bacteria, mold and heavy metals, as well as for potency and the various compounds they contain. The state is home to several testing labs; Fidelity Diagnostics and Stillwater Laboratories are the two largest facilities.

How much can I purchase at a time?

Customers will be able to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana per transaction, or the THC equivalent in other forms: 800 milligrams of edibles or 8 grams of concentrate.

Customers are not limited to a single type of product, and can mix and match up to the limit between different forms.

Will my purchase be taxed?

Yes. All recreational marijuana purchases will be subject to a flat 20% sales tax. As of this writing, Missoula, Park and Yellowstone counties have enacted an additional local-option 3% tax.

How late can dispensaries stay open?

Per House Bill 701, recreational and medical marijuana businesses cannot open before 9 a.m. or stay open past 8 p.m.

Can one shop sell another business’ products?

Yes. Although Montana’s medical marijuana industry was previously vertically integrated, meaning that any medical dispensary was required to grow its own cannabis plants and produce any other additional products themselves, that restriction has been removed from both the medical and recreational markets in the adult-use legalization bill. As a result, a shop can now purchase wholesale and sell another grower’s marijuana flower, gummies, vape cartridges and tinctures.

Can I buy marijuana anywhere in Montana?

No. Per HB 701, only counties where a majority of residents voted in favor of cannabis legalization during the 2020 election have authorized recreational sales, and are referred to as “green counties.” Counties that did not vote in favor of legalization, however, have the right to take a re-vote on the question and switch from a “red county” to a “green county.”

Richland County is a “green county” but Sidney city officials have been reluctant to move forward with regulations for sales within the city.

How much marijuana can I legally possess?

Possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, or its THC equivalent in edibles, concentrates and other products, is legal in the state of Montana.

Possession of larger quantities of marijuana remains illegal in Montana. Possession of between one and two ounces is considered a civil infraction and subject to fines of up to $500. Possession of more than two ounces is considered a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or fines up to $45,000.

Can I drive with marijuana in my vehicle?

Yes, but there’s a huge caveat: It must be in its unopened, original packaging and stored outside of the car’s “passenger area.” In other words, it’s required to be, per HB 701, either (a) in a locked glove compartment or storage compartment; (b) in a trunk, luggage compartment, truck bed or cargo compartment; © behind the last upright seat of a motor vehicle that is not equipped with a trunk; or (d) in a closed container in the area of a motor vehicle that is not equipped with a trunk and that is not normally occupied by the driver or a passenger.

The law notes that a person convicted of the offense of unlawful possession of a legally permitted quantity of marijuana in a motor vehicle “shall be fined an amount not to exceed $100.”

Is it legal to drive under the influence of marijuana?

No. As the Montana Cannabis Guild’s Petersen explained, law enforcement officers have the jurisdiction to stop anyone driving erratically. If the officer has reason to believe the driver is under the influence of marijuana — i.e., if they can smell marijuana in the car, or the driver’s eyes are red — they can transport the driver to a hospital to administer a DUI test. Refusing a blood test can result in a temporary suspension of a driver’s license.

As the drug policy organization NORML points out, a first offense for drugged driving can result in imprisonment for between 24 hours and six months and fines between $300 and $1,000. Subsequent offenses carry more serious consequences.

Can I possess or consume marijuana in national parks?

No. Since national parks, including Glacier and Yellowstone, are federal land, the federal prohibition of marijuana remains in effect there as well. Getting caught with marijuana in a national park can lead to a misdemeanor charge.

As the cannabis news outlet Leafly points out, even visitors to national parks from states with legal marijuana who get charged with possession in a national park can be subject to urine tests even after they return home to their legal-marijuana state.

Can I consume marijuana in public in Montana?

No. Consuming marijuana in public is punishable by civil fines of up to $50.

Can I leave Montana with marijuana in my possession?

No. It is illegal to cross state lines with marijuana in your possession. Montana’s neighbor states Idaho and Wyoming maintain strict laws criminalizing marijuana possession.

It is also illegal to fly with marijuana.

Can I grow my own marijuana?

Yes. Montana residents are permitted to grow and possess up to two mature marijuana plants and two seedlings at home. Those plants cannot be publicly visible — failing to conceal them from view can result in a civil fine of up to $250 and forfeiture of the plants. House Bill 701 suggests that residents can possess more than one ounce of homegrown marijuana at home, as long as it is kept in a locked container and not visible to the public, but does not specify a limit.

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