Montana Medical Marijuana Program
Montana’s medical marijuana laws were signed in 2004, and they’ve been changed since. The Montana Medical Marijuana Program is run by the Montana Department of Health and Human Services. There are currently over 12,000 patients registered with the program. In 2011, MT’s legislature passed the Senate Bill 423. The SB 423 was a provision of the medical marijuana law which limited the number of patients a medical marijuana provider could provide for to three. Technically providers can only have two patients; they can only have three if they provide for themselves as well.
MT marijuana advocates have been working to undo the changes that the 2011 provisions created. The Montana Cannabis Industry Association believes that limiting the number of patients to 2-3 will force dispensaries to close leaving patients with no way to legally obtain their medicine. The Senate Bill 423 has yet to go into effect because advocates continue to fight for the delay of the 2011 provisions. Chief Justice Mike McGrath wrote that the “immediate implementation of the court’s opinion would cause severe disruption” to the Montana Marijuana Program. The changes are expected to go into effect by August 31st unless advocates succeed in getting their new initiative on the November ballot. The new I-182 initiative advocates are working on would remove the patient limit, add PTSD to the qualifying list of conditions, and do more for MT patients.
How do I get a medical marijuana card in Montana?
You must fill out the required forms and provide a physician’s recommendation, the $5 fee, and valid MT driver’s license or a MT state issued identification card.
Who qualifies for Medical Marijuana in MT?
To qualify for medical marijuana in Montana, you must have one of the severe debilitating medical conditions on the program’s list. The qualifying conditions include:
- Cachexia or wasting syndrome
- Severe chronic pain that is a persistent pain of severe intensity that significantly interferes with daily activities as documented by the patient’s treating physician and objective proof or confirmation from another doctor.
- 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
- Admittance into hospice care in accordance with rules adopted by the department or any other medical condition or treatment for a medical condition approved by the legislature.
Can the list of qualifying conditions be added to?
Yes, the I-182 initiative would add PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions, so there are ways for the list to be expanded.
Where can I find a medical marijuana doctor in Montana?
Any licensed physician can recommend marijuana to their patient if they are diagnosed with any of the qualifying conditions.
Dispensaries in MT
There are about 13 operational dispensaries in Montana. This will be problematic if the 2011 initiative goes into effect. If dispensaries are limited to 2-3 patients how could the 12,000 plus registered patients possibly be served?
What can patients find in a Montana dispensary?
Most marijuana products are available to patients at Montana dispensaries. They are allowed to carry marijuana flowers, tinctures, edibles, and extracts.
Are MT patients shielded from discrimination?
A medical card in Montana will protect from prosecution. However, employers are not required to accommodate medical marijuana users, and they can still fire employees if they find out they’re using medical marijuana. Many people have tried to challenge these firings in court at the state level but so far in Oregon, California, and Montana the courts have continued to rule for the employer.
The future of Montana’s medical marijuana program
The Montana Marijuana Program may change in the near future if the advocate backed initiative makes the November ballot then passes. If not significant changes to the way MT’s medical program operates are to be expected. A mass shutdown of Montana dispensaries is being predicted. Hopefully, the I-182 initiative passes and MT medical marijuana patients can keep receiving their medicine with minimal hassle.