Medical Marijuana FAQ

This FAQ is not legal advice.  If you have a specific question about how the law applies to you, consult with an attorney.  As importantly, the cultivation, possession, and distribution of any amount of marijuana is illegal under federal law.  The rules discussed here are based on current state laws in Montana only.

We highly recommend you read the law. You can find a handy summary of the provisions here

Which state agency or agencies administer the program?


The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) runs the program for issuing cards, but there is no government oversight of the cultivation of marijuana or its sale to patients.

When is a patient protected under the law?


A patient, provider, or marijuana-infused products provider is not protected until he or she is in possession of a state-issued registry card

Does Montana recognize patients from other states?


No. There is no reciprocity provision under the current law. 

Is there an affirmative defense in the new law?


No.  A criminal defendant without a current card does not have a medical defense under the Act.

Hasn’t the law been blocked or something?


The current law went into effect in 2011 and most of it is in effect. But, it was immediately challenged in court and a judge has blocked several very important provisions, including:

  • A ban against compensation for providers, in 50-46-308, MCA
  • The limit on the number of patients, appearing in the same statute
  • The requirement that providers submit to warrantless searches, in 50-46-329, MCA
  • A ban on all advertising by providers 50-46-341, MCA
  • The requirement that physicians who make more than 25 recommendations a year be audited by the Montana Board of Medical Examiners and pay for the honor, in 50-46-303, MCA.

How do I become a cardholder?

  1. Meet with a physician who will evaluate you to see if your condition qualifies for a recommendation. A list of physicians who have given us their information is available here [link to physician page]. The physician has a form to fill out and sign, and it must be submitted with your application.
  2. Decide if you want to grow your own or use a provider to grow marijuana for you.
  3. Decide where you will be growing, if you are.  If you use a rental space, you will need the landlord’s permission
  4. Next, fill out the application.
  5. Send the physician’s recommendation, application, a check for the fee made payable to DPHHS/MMP, and the landlord authorization form (if needed) to the state.  Send it all to DPHHS at P.O. Box 202935, Helena MT  59620-2935.
  6. The state has 30 days from the date it receives the mail to register you or reject the application, and an additional 5 days to mail the notice out to you.  If a provider was selected by the patient and fills out his or her own paperwork, the provider also receives mail from the state containing a letter and a registry ID card.  50-46-303, MCA, paragraph 4.

Can I grow my own if I designate a provider?


No.  The new law requires a cardholder to either grow their own or select a provider, but not both, in 50-46-307, MCA, see paragraph 1(e) and paragraph 5.

If I am a cardholder, can I provide marijuana to another cardholder?


No.  Cardholders may not provide marijuana to any person unless the cardholder is also registered as a provider, and the recipient is registered as that cardholder’s patient.  50-46-307, MCA, see paragraph 1(f).   See also 50-46-330, MCA, paragraph 1(b)(ii).

Can I be a cardholder if I am on supervision?


No.  A person may not be a registered cardholder if the person is in the custody of or under the supervision of the department of corrections or a youth court.  See 50-46-307, MCA, paragraph 4.  This issue is currently being litigated in the MTCIA challenge to the law.

If I want to grow my own, how do I get plants or seeds?


The law does not address how patients can lawfully obtain plant stock.  Providers are expressly prohibited from selling or giving plants or seeds to their patients.

How many plants can I have as a cardholder?


A registered cardholder may possess up to 4 mature plants and 12 seedlings.  50-46-319(1), MCA.  A mature plant is defined as “a harvestable female marijuana plant that is flowering,” and a seedling is “a marijuana plant that has no flowers and is less than 12 includes in height and 12 inches in diameter.”  50-46-302, MCA, paragraphs 8 and 17. Since the people who wrote this law clearly don’t know much about cultivating marijuana or growing dioeceous plants, we have to assume that any plant over 12 inches should be considered a “flowering, harvestable female” regardless of its sex, but no courts have addressed this yet.

How do I become a provider or a marijuana-infused products provider (MIPP)?

  1. First, you must not be disqualified for any reason:
    1. You have to be at least 18 years old, 50-46-302, MCA, paragraph 10(a),
    2. You cannot have a misdemeanor drug conviction or a felony of any type on your record, 50-46-308, MCA, paragraph 2.
    3. You cannot be in custody of the Department of Corrections,
    4. You must be current on any taxes or judgments due to a government agency,
    5. Not must not be in default on government-issued student loans,
    6. You must be current on any child support obligations
    7. You may not have anyone listed as your provider.
  2. Next, fill out the application provided by the state.
  3. Cut a check made payable to DPHHS/MMP for the appropriate fee.
  4. Complete two fingerprint cards for a background check.  The cards along with instructions can be obtained by calling DPHHS at 406-444-0596.
  5. If your patient is switching to you from someone else, fill out a Change Request Form.  
  6. If your patient is not yet registered with the state, it is best to combine your forms packet with theirs so that DPHHS sees it all and can set you both up at the same time.
  7. Obtain written, notarized permission from a landlord if you will be using someone else’s property for the grow space. 
  8. Send the application, check, fingerprint cards, change request form or cardholder application packet and landlord authorization form (if needed) to DPHHS at P.O. Box 202935, Helena MT  59620-2935.

If I can only have 1 ounce, what am I supposed to do at harvest if I grow my own?


The law does not account for “wet weight” following harvest, or whether or not plants you cut are counted toward your plant count or possession weight limit.