Yes. Growing marijuana plants for personal and medical use is allowed in Yellowstone County. 21-year-old adults may cultivate up to two (2) mature marijuana plants and two (2) seedlings for personal use in their private residence, subject to certain limitations. Furthermore, medical marijuana cardholders may grow up to four (4) mature marijuana plants and four (4) seedlings. The cannabis plants must not be visible to the public.
Business entities may avail of cultivator licenses permitting them to plant, cultivate, dry, package, and label marijuana and sell it to manufacturers, dispensaries, and other cultivators. The licenses are issued according to a tiered canopy system, which allows growers to expand cultivation space in increments. The City of Billings, the county seat of Yellowstone County, only allows up to tier 4 canopy licenses.
The Cannabis Control Division (CCD) under the Montana Department of Revenue regulates and administers the medical marijuana program and adult use of marijuana in the state. They require that all new cultivation sites are indoors. However, former medical marijuana licensees who engaged in outdoor cultivation prior to November 3, 2020, may continue doing the same but cannot expand their existing outdoor cultivation area.
The marijuana facilities are subject to CCD inspections. Cultivators may only sell their products to other licensed marijuana businesses or at their dispensaries because they are prohibited from selling directly to consumers and patients.
Yes. Manufacturing licenses allow business establishments to compound or convert marijuana into marijuana products, concentrates, and extracts, and to package, repackage, label, or relabel these products. The CCD issues three (3) tiers for manufacturers depending on how much concentrates are processed monthly. For instance, licensees who do not produce concentrates may use Tier 1. Licensed manufacturers can buy marijuana from fellow licensees and can sell their processed products to other licensed businesses. They are not, however, allowed to sell directly to medical or recreational users.
Marijuana manufacturers must take all necessary precautions to ensure that the placement of equipment and storage of materials allow for the maintenance of sanitary operations for the processing of cannabis products. Additionally, they must have reasonable measures that all surfaces, utensils, and tools used to prepare marijuana products are cleaned and sanitized as frequently as needed to avoid contamination. The water supply on the manufacturing floor must be safe and potable. Finally, the storage and transportation of finished marijuana products shall be under conditions that will avoid physical, chemical, and microbial contamination.
Yes. Dispensary licenses allow retailers to sell marijuana and marijuana products to consumers and registered cardholders from licensed cultivators, manufacturers, and dispensaries. Registered cardholders are those eligible to acquire marijuana at any licensed dispensary in Montana. Adult-use dispensaries may sell cannabis products to recreational users or medical marijuana patients, while medical-only dispensaries cater only to registered cardholders. The seed-to-sale tracking system records and collates all sales of marijuana in the state.
As of January 1, 2021, adults aged 21 may possess and use no more than one (1) ounce of marijuana without being subject to criminal penalties. In Montana, retailers may sell cannabis products in the form of dried leaves and flowers of marijuana plants, edibles, ointments, tinctures, marijuana derivatives, and marijuana concentrates.
The conversion to determine the allowable amounts of non-flower marijuana is: one (1) ounce of marijuana flower equals 800 mg of THC in cannabis products, including edibles, or 8g/8mL of cannabis concentrate. A customer can buy a combination of marijuana flowers or products, provided the calculated conversion is equal to or less than the legal amount.
Licensees and their employees must not sell cannabis products to persons who are obviously or apparently under the influence of alcohol or drugs. They should also be cautious not to sell marijuana above the THC levels provided in 16-12-224 of the Montana Code Annotated (MCA), except when sold to registered cardholders. As for marijuana paraphernalia, dispensaries must only sell to adults 21 years of age and registered cardholders 18 years of age.
According to 16-12-515 of the MCA, registered cardholders may possess up to one (1) ounce of usable marijuana and purchase a maximum of five (5) ounces of usable marijuana every month but not exceeding one (1) ounce of the same in a day. They may petition to buy more than the monthly limit as long as their physician has confirmed that the cardholder’s debilitating medical condition warrants purchasing more than the monthly restriction. If this exception is accepted, the approval must establish the monthly amount of marijuana that the cardholder may purchase and must be registered in the seed-to-sale tracking system.
While the sale of marijuana is allowed, the possession and consumption of recreational and medical marijuana remain prohibited in public places and particular locations.
Not all counties in the State of Montana allow adult-use cannabis sales. Yellowstone County voters, tagged as a “blue county,” opted to include a local-option tax on marijuana sales. A local-option tax is a discretionary excise tax added on top of the state excise tax imposed on the sale of marijuana products. In the City of Billings, the citizens voted to permanently disallow adult-use dispensaries from selling marijuana products. Therefore, only medical marijuana dispensaries, marijuana cultivators, marijuana transporters, and marijuana testing laboratories can operate a cannabis business in the city.
Residents who possess a medical marijuana card and are 18 years old can have their medical marijuana delivered by their registered providers. A marijuana transporter license allows a business to deliver cannabis products between licensed marijuana business premises or to registered cardholders.
However, according to Rule 42.39.409, marijuana dispensaries, employees, or third-party services cannot deliver cannabis products to consumers. Licensed transporters also cannot deliver to adult-use consumers.
Registered cardholders in Montana are residents with debilitating medical conditions who have acquired and maintained a valid medical marijuana registry card. The following are debilitating medical conditions that make an applicant eligible to receive medical marijuana:
Positive status for HIV/AIDS
Cachexia or wasting syndrome
Severe chronic pain
Intractable nausea or vomiting
Epilepsy or an intractable seizure disorder
Painful peripheral neuropathy
A central nervous system disorder resulting in chronic, painful spasticity or muscle spasms
Admittance into hospice care
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
To obtain a new medical marijuana card in Montana, patients must process their application through the TransAction Portal (TAP). In the same portal, residents can renew an existing card, replace a lost or destroyed card, submit their documents, and update cardholder information. Cardholder applicants are issued temporary cards after submitting their new or renewal application. The applicant must print or have a physical copy of the temporary card. Approved applicants shall be given the official medical marijuana card up to one year from the approval date unless the physician has indicated a shorter period in their recommendation.
The following are the required documents for all applications:
Applicant’s recent photo
Proof that you reside in Montana
Physician’s Statement Form
These are the conditional documents required for some applications:
Proof of Legal Guardianship for minor applicants
Proof of Property Ownership
Designated Purchaser's Date of Birth
Cannabis Control Division
Available from Monday to Friday, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Phone: (406) 444-0596
Fax: (406) 444-4110
Montana Department of Revenue
Cannabis Control Division
PO Box 5835
Helena, MT 59604-5835
The Business & Income Taxes Division administers and regulates state and local cannabis tax in Montana. All gross sales of adult-use marijuana and medical marijuana products are taxable. As for state taxes, Montana imposes a 20% tax on adult-use marijuana sales and a 4% tax on medical marijuana sales.
Counties in the state are given the discretion to set local-option tax rates on marijuana sales, not exceeding 3%, in addition to the state taxes. A local-option marijuana excise tax is a tax on the retail value of marijuana products sold in licensed dispensaries within the county.
In Yellowstone County, adult-use marijuana and medical marijuana sales are subject to a 3% local-option tax effective January 31, 2022. It is the dispensaries that collect and remit the taxes. Any marijuana product cultivated for private use is not taxable.
The CCD reported cannabis sales of adult-use marijuana and medical marijuana from January 2022 to date (March 2023). The estimated sales for adult-use marijuana is over $229 million, while medical marijuana garnered more than $99 million. The total combined sales is nearly $329 million.
Consequently, the division collected an estimated $46 million in taxes for the sale of adult-use marijuana. In comparison, around $4 million in taxes was accumulated to sell medical marijuana. Nearly $50 million was collected for taxes in total.
The sale of adult-use marijuana was legalized in January 2021, and marijuana products were available on the dispensaries’ shelves in January 2022. It is still premature to analyze how cannabis legalization has affected crime rates in Yellowstone County with the lack of data as of March 2023. Nonetheless, here are the number of arrests the FBI Data Explorer recorded for the offenses of driving under the influence (DUI), illegal possession of marijuana, and illegal sale/manufacturing of marijuana.
The Yellowstone County Sheriff's Office made 107 arrests for DUI in 2020 and 94 arrests by 2021. As for illegal possession of marijuana, there were 15 apprehensions made in 2020 and one arrest in 2021. In 2020 and 2021, no arrest was recorded for the unlawful sale/manufacturing of marijuana in the county.