Montana residents legalized medical marijuana in 2004 when they approved Measure I 148, the Montana Medical Marijuana Act, with a 62 percent majority vote. Although lawmakers severely limited the program in 2011, new efforts in 2019 worked to increase accessibility to cannabis for a range of medical patients. Under the law, individuals over the age of 18 and minors with a parent provider can access medical marijuana. Here’s a rundown of everything you need to know to apply for a medical cannabis card in Montana.
Benefits of a Medical Marijuana Card in Montana
One of the biggest reasons for obtaining a medical marijuana card in Montana is for the ability to participate in the state’s medical cannabis program. Non-patients aren’t allowed to enter a dispensary. A medical marijuana card gives you the ability to buy, possess, consume, grow, or designate someone else to grow cannabis for you.
As a state without recreational marijuana laws, Montana residents can only access cannabis if they have one or more of the listed qualifying medical conditions. Furthermore, obtaining a medical card gives you access to medicinal cannabis in states that have reciprocity laws for out-of-state patients.
Patients in Montana can receive a medical marijuana recommendation from a licensed physician to be eligible to register in the state’s medical program. A medical recommendation from a doctor can be received if the patient has one of the following qualifying medical conditions:
- Cachexia or wasting syndrome
- Severe chronic pain that is persistent and significantly interferes with daily activities
- Intractable nausea or vomiting
- Epilepsy or an intractable seizure disorder
- Multiple sclerosis
- Crohn’s disease
- Painful peripheral neuropathy
- A central nervous system disorder resulting in chronic, painful spasticity or muscle spasms
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Admittance into hospice care
Medical Card Application Process in Montana
In order to apply for a medical card in Montana, you must be a resident of the state, be at least 18 years of age, be diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition, and receive a written medical recommendation from a licensed physician. Montana residents can book an appointment at a medical marijuana clinic to obtain a valid medical recommendation. At the appointment, a doctor will review your medical history and assess your condition. If the doctor decides you are eligible for a medical card, you will receive a written medical recommendation.
Montana enables residents to either buy from a licensed dispensary or grow their own weed if they have a valid card. If you do not list a provider on your medical marijuana application, you are only able to obtain cannabis that you have grown yourself. Applicants can register online with the Quality Assurance Division Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. If you’re submitting your application via mail, send the necessary documents to the following address:
Montana Department of Health and Human Services
Medical Marijuana Program
2401 Colonial Drive, 2nd Floor
P.O. Box 202953
Helena, MT 59620-2953
Applications require a square, clear, color photo of yourself, a copy of proof of residency (driver’s license, state ID, passport, and your signed recommendation. Once your application is received and approved, your medical marijuana card will be sent to you by mail. You aren’t a valid cardholder until you receive your card in the mail. Medical cards are valid for one year or shorter if specified by a physician.
Apart from the cost to visit the medical marijuana doctor, prospective medical patients must pay the $30 fee for a registered cardholder card, $30 for a replacement, or $10 to update provider information. You can pay online by credit card or debit card or by check or money order by mail.
Minors under the age of 18 can become valid medical card holders in Montana as long as a parent or legal guardian agrees to act as the minor’s provider. Minors must complete a separate application form for minor patients. If the parent will be growing marijuana for the minor, the parent or legal guardian must register and be approved as a Marijuana-Infused Products Provider (MIPP) or name a provider on behalf of the minor.
Buying Medical Marijuana
Before the May 2019 reform laws were passed, medical cannabis patients in Montana were tethered to a single dispensary, which was inconvenient for many patients. The new law enables patients to buy from any dispensary in Montana. Medical cardholders can also buy up to five ounces of cannabis per month or one ounce per day. The new law will be implemented before July 1, 2020, but the five-ounce limit is already in effect.
Medical cardholders who don’t name a provider can possess up to four mature plants and four seedlings. If two patients in the same household have not specified a provider on their medical marijuana application, the house may have a maximum of eight mature plants and eight seedlings. Other possession limits include eight grams of concentrate, 800 mg of THC in edibles, or 8 ml worth of vape cartridges.
Unfortunately, out-of-state patients are not allowed to participate in Montana’s medical cannabis program. Under the program, only Montana residents can receive a medical marijuana card and purchase medical cannabis from a licensed dispensary. Out-of-state patients can’t receive a Montana medical card because they need a valid Montana driver’s license or state ID.
Montana’s medical marijuana program is going through some positive changes that will hopefully improve patient access and product quality. Obtaining a medical marijuana card can give you access to a larger number of dispensaries and medicinal products than ever before. Medical cannabis has been shown to have numerous health benefits for medical patients across the world.