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These tips are not legal advice, and are based simply on Montana Cannabis’s understanding of the Medical Marijuana Act. If you need to know how the law applies to you in your particular situation, go speak with an attorney. In many instances there are clear lines between what is legal and what is not, and this quick list is intended to highlight some that can spell trouble for careless patients, caregivers, or out-of-state visitors in Montana.

1. ALWAYS have your card in your possession if you expect to be in possession of cannabis or expect to use it in any way. Under Montana Law, you could be charged with possession – even if you are legally authorized to possess/use it – should you have cannabis and not also have your card with you.

2. Do not purchase cannabis or cannabis products from your caregiver until you are authorized to do so BY THE STATE. You are not authorized until the State says so. Having a physician’s statement and an application in the mail is not enough to avoid a citation and possible arrest/jail for possession (a misdemeanor), or a felony charge for manufacture of a dangerous drug for having plants too early. Anyone providing cannabis or cannabis seeds to you before that person is your authorized caregiver exposes that person to one or more felony charges for distribution of a dangerous drug. This is a bright line and well understood by law enforcement in Montana.

3. Based on the plain language within the Montana statute authorizing possession (look at section 2), State law allows a patient to grow up to 6 plants, and his or her caregiver to grow up to 6 plants. The law does not specify where the plants are situated, however the limits of this law have not been tested in court.

4. When is it a plant? Its our belief that a thing is a plant if it has at least one root. That includes a seedling of any size, or a cutting (aka “clone”) that has one or more roots. Sex, stage, or size do not matter. An officer won’t care about whatever your reason is for having too many plants.

5. Remember that law enforcement officers are paid to look for criminal activity. Even if like most Montanans, an officer supports the Medical Marijuana Act, he or she cannot ignore the law or look the other way. Know the law and where you stand at all times. If you leave your card at home, drive impaired, have a few too many plants, carry too much cannabis, you will get in trouble if an officer is made aware of it. Do not expect an officer to be “cool” about it.

6. Montana law establishes a one-to-one relationship between a caregiver and a patient. There is no clear way under Montana Law to obtain cannabis or cannabis-products from a person who is not listed by the State as that patient’s caregiver.

7. Do not share your medicine with others. Selling it (or giving) it to anyone, unless a patient of yours, is a felony.

8. Your use of cannabis as a patient is always limited to medical use under the Medical Marijuana Act. Go to a party, consume cannabis recreationally, and you can be cited like any non-patient for simple possession, even if you have your card on you. In addition, law enforcement is likely to try and determine if you were there providing it to others, leaving you exposed to a possible felony charge. As a patient, its not a good idea to be the life of the party.

9. Anybody can be your caregiver, so long as that person is a resident of Montana, and does not have a felony conviction for a drug-related offense. You can be anyone else’s caregiver, with the same restrictions.

10. While the law is not very restrictive on locations for medicating with cannabis, common sense should be your guide. The best rule we know of comes from Paul Stanford from the THC Foundation: If you can’t have sex at a particular location without getting in trouble, then you should not medicate with cannabis there either!

11. Law enforcement officers are not always trained on the specifics of the Medical Marijuana Act, but you will be expected to know how it applies to you and to the situation you may be in.