Possession of Marijuana in Montana

In May 2021, Montana enacted a recreational marijuana law allowing the sale of recreational marijuana in certain counties. Recreational marijuana users will now have freer access to their substance of choice.

At the same time, law enforcement will be looking for offenders, whether illegal dealers or simply those driving under the influence or possessing more than the legally allowable amount of marijuana in their vehicles.

The legislation passed in Montana is known as HB 701, The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.

You need to remember, however, that recreational possession is limited to one ounce per person. If you have more than one ounce, but less than two, you could be punished for a civil violation, like a traffic ticket, and fined up to $300.

Possessing more than two ounces of marijuana can result in a felony for a second offense. If the marijuana found in your vehicle is intended for illegal sale or delivery, that, too, can result in a felony with a sentence of one year to life in prison, along with fines.

One section of HB 701 deals with the unlawful possession of marijuana, marijuana products, or marijuana paraphernalia “within the passenger area of a motor vehicle on a highway” by individuals.

The law carves out some exceptions, however, for marijuana, products, or paraphernalia that is:

  • Purchased from a licensed dispensary and still in unopened, original packaging
  • Kept in a locked glove or storage compartment
  • Stored in the vehicle’s trunk or the bed or cargo compartment of a truck
  • Kept behind the last upright seat of a vehicle that lacks a trunk
  • Stored in a closed container in an area not normally occupied by a driver or passenger

If you have a marijuana license, you and your employees will be presumed to be in compliance with Montana law. Certain rules, such as the prominent display of licenses and employee badges and recordkeeping requirements, apply.