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Frequently asked questions about recreational marijuana sales in Montana

cannabis store sign
Osarieme Eweka iStock/Getty Images/iStockphoto
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iStockphoto
Cannabis store sign.

Trying to figure out what's new with marijuana in Montana? From which counties have legalized recreational sales, to possession limits and taxes, here are the answers to some common questions.

Where can I buy recreational marijuana?

Recreational sales are allowed in the 29 counties that voted in favor of the ballot initiative. See the map below for the full list.

marijuana-county-status-12-28-2021.png
Montana Department of Revenue
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Keep an eye on Jefferson, Carbon and Rosebud counties for changes, as they had a 50-49 split in favor of allowing recreational marijuana.

In a county where the majority of voters opposed Initiative 190, adult-use sales will be allowed if that county holds an election and a majority of the voters choose to allow marijuana businesses to operate in that jurisdiction. In a county where the majority of voters supported Initiative 190, certain marijuana businesses could be prohibited if that county holds a local election and a majority of the voters choose to prohibit that type of business from operating.

Yellowstone County, which voted 50-49 to legalize recreational marijuana, made recreational dispensaries illegal within the city limits of Billings as of November 2021 (medical dispensaries are still legal, with a limit of eight in city limits). It also added a question to the ballot for June to possibly overturn the “yes” vote and make it illegal for the whole county.

See https://mtrevenue.gov/cannabis/faqs/ for other helpful answers.

Medical vs. recreational dispensaries

Not all medical dispensaries are recreational dispensaries, but currently all recreational dispensaries also sell medical. Starting July 1, 2023, new recreational marijuana businesses will be allowed to open, provided their applications have been approved by the county they’re in.

Medical vs. recreational taxes

Medical: The state requires a 4% tax, but it can be increased by individual counties (Park and Yellowstone counties did this in the 2020 election season).

Recreational: A 20% tax is required by state, but local jurisdictions can also add an excise tax of up to 3%. Dawson, Missoula, Park and Yellowstone counties have implemented this tax.

How much can a person buy/possess?

According to the Montana Code Annotated, those 21 or older can possess up to 1 ounce of usable marijuana, with no more than 8 grams of concentrate.

The Montana Department of Revenue FAQ page for marijuana says:

“When licensees are able to operate, edible adult-use marijuana products may contain up to 10 mg of THC per serving, and up to 100 mg of THC in an entire package.

The total psychoactive THC of marijuana flower may not exceed 35%.

Topical products may contain no more than 6% THC and no more than 800 mg of THC per package.

A marijuana product sold as a capsule, transdermal patch or suppository, may contain more than 100 mg of THC, and no more than 800 mg of THC in an entire package.

These limits do not apply to sales by licensed medical marijuana providers to medical marijuana cardholders.”

A cardholder may have up to four plants and four seedlings, and any other person over the age of 21 may have two of each. Plants cannot be visible “from a public place”; for example, through a window where someone can see them from outside, or in a garden that anyone walking by could see. Breaking this part of the law means a fine of up to $250 and the forfeiture of said marijuana plants.

How will cops test for/deal with DUIs?

Effective Jan. 1, 2022: “A person who operates or is in actual physical control of a vehicle or commercial motor vehicle upon the ways of this state open to the public is considered to have given consent to a test or tests of the person's blood or breath for the purpose of determining any measured amount or detected presence of alcohol or drugs in the person's body.”

MCA 61-8-1002: If “the person's [THC] level, excluding inactive metabolites, as shown by analysis of the person's blood or other bodily substance, is 5 ng/ml or more,” it is considered driving under the influence.

If pulled over, a driver must submit to any (breath, blood, urine, etc) test and if they don’t, they get their license confiscated and get a temporary one for 5 days. A driver only must submit to any tests after refusal if they’ve refused before in a similar state or prior DUI/aggravated DUI.

Any marijuana products must be kept in a trunk or glove compartment in their original packaging, with violators subject to a fine of up to $100. Public use is also prohibited, with a fine of $50.

How much tax money is the state expected to bring in? 

State: As projected by the governor’s budget office, $130 million in 2022, with $195 million in 2023 after new businesses are able to open.

Local excise taxes (the “up to 3%” one) can be used for anything the city or municipality wants to under law, including paying for regulatory costs from selling marijuana, so the amount and usage of funds will vary by county.

As of Jan. 4, distributors statewide sold over $1.5 million worth of merchandise in just the first weekend of recreational marijuana being available for sale. The figure does not include medical marijuana, which totaled less than half a million dollars in the same timespan.

Where will the state tax money go?

State money will go first to addiction recovery programs and then to various other state projects. Healing and Ending Addiction Through Recovery and Treatment (HEART) will receive $6 million, with $500,000 being allocated to Indian Health Services in Montana. After that much has been raised, the remainder will be split between the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department (20%); state parks, trails, and non-game wildlife programs (4% each); veterans and surviving spouses (3% or $200,000, whichever is less); crisis treatment training ($150,000); and the state’s general fund.

Will dispensaries run out of products?

Dispensaries around the state are expecting and sometimes already experiencing supply chain issues, especially for medical marijuana, after the run on inventory that occurred the first weekend in January. Dispensers recommend that people who use medical marijuana stock up to avoid uncertainty of supply. Eighty dispensaries in Montana only serve medical marijuana customers, but some of the shops that sell to both medical and recreational users say they will not set aside specific inventory for medical users, and there is no requirement in Montana that they do so.

Substance abuse help

If you or anyone you know is struggling with substance abuse, you can call the Montana DPHHS hotline at 406-444-9656, the National Rehab Hotline at 866-210-1303, or find more resources for treatment and rehab here or here.

Other resources

Buying marijuana in Montana? Here’s what you need to know.

New Montana drug court will handle expungement of marijuana-related crimes

House Bill 701 (recreational marijuana legalization)

Links

https://mtrevenue.gov/cannabis/faqs/

https://www.ypradio.org/2021-11-02/billings-voters-reject-marijuana-sales-within-city-limits

https://www.mtpr.org/montana-news/2021-12-15/question-on-recreational-marijuana-sales-back-up-for-a-vote-in-yellowstone-county

https://www.mtpr.org/montana-news/2021-11-03/three-montana-counties-approve-local-taxes-on-recreational-marijuana

https://helenair.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/mt-bought-more-than-1-5m-in-cannabis-on-opening-weekend-of-recreational-sales/article_290e61bc-ff52-56f4-aad3-63769e14c1ac.html#:~:text=The%20Governor's%20Office%20of%20Budget,moratorium%20on%20new%20businesses%20ends.

https://twitter.com/SeabornLarson/status/1478477479123824642

https://www.ktvq.com/news/montana-news/how-montanas-20-percent-recreational-cannabis-sales-tax-will-be-divided?fbclid=IwAR0C5AVAki_MZvBtFFtECTyDa4bQ0R8AH3PIOA7YFdKFmThVPou3UxDaV_w

https://www.mtpr.org/montana-news/2022-01-04/medical-marijuana-users-brace-for-shortages-as-montanas-recreational-market-opens

https://dphhs.mt.gov/amdd/substanceabuse/

https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/local-rehab-resources/montana/