The start of the new year marked the implementation of legal recreational marijuana in Montana. That’s thanks to Montana Initiative 190, which was approved by voters back in the Nov. 2020 elections. However, there are some important limitations that everyone needs to be aware of.
Under the law, if you’re at least 21, you can buy an ounce of marijuana. However, you can’t legally consume it in public without risking a civil penalty. If you’re caught driving under the influence of it, you risk being arrested for DUI (and, more importantly, harming yourself and others).
National parks are federal land
It’s also crucial to understand that marijuana is still illegal under federal law. That means if you’re visiting one of Montana’s national parks, you need to leave the cannabis at home. Because national parks are considered federal land, being caught with marijuana could result in federal charges.
Being able to purchase marijuana, particularly in some parts of the state, isn’t going to be as easy as many people hoped. Only dispensaries that were licensed to sell marijuana for medicinal purposes prior to Nov. 2020 can sell it for now. No new permits are being granted until July 2023. If you want to grow your own, you can have two seedlings and two mature plants.
Green vs. red counties
How easy it is to purchase marijuana will depend on where you live (or how far you’re willing to travel). Under the new law, marijuana can be sold for recreational purposes only in the counties where the initiative won. Those are known as “green counties.” In those counties where the initiative didn’t win a majority of votes (“red counties”), recreational sales aren’t legal unless and until the county has a special initiative that’s approved by voters.
It can all be very confusing. If you find yourself facing charges for the purchase, possession, sale or distribution of marijuana, don’t take them lightly. It’s crucial to understand and protect your rights.