Montana Cannabis Legislation Timeline

This is a timeline that we’re consistently working on to build out and have as a resource for the Montana cannabis industry. It’s a work in progress, and we welcome your input, whether you believe we’ve gotten an event or detail wrong, or there’s something new to add. Let us know!

November 4, 2020

Steve Zabawa, representing opposition group Wrong for Montana, filed a lawsuit against the State of Montana, Attorney General Tim Fox, and Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, challenging the constitutionality of Initiative 190. The complaint states that I-190 appropriates tax revenue, which should be the job of the Legislature. (source: KTVQ Billings) (filed complaint)

February 20, 2020

The DPHHS held a hearing in which they took public comment about the Proposed Rule Package that was first published at the end of January of 2020. These new rules would change a number of policies in the Montana MMJ Program including much harsher bans on advertising, restricting the sale of out-of-state CBD, and prohibiting providers from growing and selling hemp flower. Changes were also proposed regarding the daily and monthly equivalencies, fees and other aspects of the law found in SB 265. (source)(source)

January 13, 2020

New Approach Montana submitted a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana and a constitutional amendment that would allow a technical change to state law stipulating that only adults 21 and older could possess or purchase cannabis (source) (source) (initiative) (constitutional initiative)

December 18, 2019

The DPHHS began enforcement of the Emergency Rules on Wednesday at 1:00 pm. 

The restrictions include the sale of all flavored e-cigarette products, including flavored nicotine, THC, and CBD e-cigarette products, in-store and online. The rules did not require retailers to destroy their existing inventory. (source) (notice)

December 13, 2019

The DPHHS Announced its notice of intent to begin enforcing Emergency Rules that temporarily restrict the sale of flavored e-cigarette products in Montana. DPHHS is proceeding with enforcement of the rules, citing that the Temporary Restraining Order preventing enforcement expired by operation of law in October.

Since the Emergency Rules were first announced, DPHHS has confirmed five additional cases of E-cigarette or Vaping Product Use Associated Lung Injury (EVALI) in Montana. (source) (notice)

October 30, 2019

A hearing to discuss the legality of the Emergency Temporary Ban on flavored e-cigarette products was scheduled for this day. District Judge Jennifer Lint of Hamilton had issued a temporary restraining order, thus halting Governor Steve Bullock’s ban on flavored vaporizers announced earlier that month. The restraining order was issued because it was seen to be a possible infringement of personal rights and illegal under state law. (source)

October 29, 2019

The Montana marijuana advocacy group Coalition406 and the national marijuana reform organization New Approach PAC announced a combined effort to legalize, regulate, and tax adult-use marijuana in Montana. The Marijuana Policy Project also endorsed New Approach Montana. New Approach Montana will serve as the umbrella group seeking to place an adult-use legalization initiative on the 2020 ballot in Montana. 

“We are looking forward to working with New Approach Montana and allies across the state to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana,” said Graham Boyd, director of New Approach PAC.

New Approach Montana have claimed they will hold more town hall meetings across the state. (source)

New Approach Montana

October 22, 2019

Governor Bullock’s Emergency Temporary Ban on flavored e-cigarette products was intended to take effect on this day. (source) (source)

October 18, 2019

Hamilton Judge, Jennifer Lint, blocked Gov. Steve Bullock’s temporary emergency ban on flavored e-cigarette products. The ban is blocked for 12 days until a hearing on a permanent injunction. (source)

October 17, 2019

Three Montana vape shops and their trade association (Freedom Vapes, LLC., Liberty Smoke, Inc., UBlaze Vapor, LLC, and Montana Smokefree Association, Inc.) filed suit to overturn Gov. Steve Bullock’s emergency ban on flavored e-cigarette products (source) (source)

October 8, 2019

Governor Steve Bullock directed the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services to implement emergency administrative rules to temporarily prohibit the sale of flavored e-cigarettes (source) (source) This ban was in reaction to reported tainted and poisoned vaporizer cartridges that had large amounts of toxic chemicals including vitamin E acetate. These cartridges were in almost all cases shown to be illegally sourced and from illicitly formulated sources.

Bullock plans emergency ban on flavored vape product sales. (Source: KXLH Helena)

June 28, 2019

A ballot initiative was submitted to the Montana Secretary of State to be reviewed. The initiative would legalize recreational marijuana use, establish the state’s duties in facilitating the industry, and establish tax revenue policies. (source)

September 26, 2019

Temporary medical marijuana cards began automatically being issued for new patients. (source)

April 25, 2019

HB 653 Died in Process (House)

April 17, 2019

HB 413, which prohibited vaping on school grounds passed the Senate (source) (bill text)

March 28, 2019

HB 770, the bill that would legalize recreational marijuana in Montana, sponsored by Rep. Tom Winter, D-Missoula, was tabled in the House Taxation Committee. (source)

February 1, 2019

There was a hearing in Missoula District Court, during which Judge Deschamps decided whether or not to extend the DPHHS’ agreement with two providers to the additional providers that joined the lawsuit. (source)

November 2018

Two providers filed a lawsuit against the DPHHS. Ellie Hill Smith had begun negotiating in August for the DPHHS to grant the providers permits, and reached an agreement to grant the permits, according to Hill. When the process dragged on, the plaintiffs decided to sue (source)

August 2018

DPHHS rejected permit applications for two providers, to partner with Willow Bark Science, a Missoula THC extraction lab registered to former Democratic state Rep. Ellie Hill Smith. Smith began negotiating with the health department and reached an agreement to grant the permits. (source)

April 10, 2018

Revised rules from the DPHHS went into effect (source) (source) (source)

February 9, 2018

DPHHS released its final draft of its tweaked medical marijuana program rules for testing, etc. (source)

November 9, 2017

The Department of Public Health and Human Services published MAR Notice 37-820 pertaining to the public hearing on the proposed adoption, amendment, and repeal of rules at page 2037 of the 2017 Montana Administrative Register, Issue Number 21. (source)

May 2017

“Governor Bullock signed into law Senate Bill 333, which further regulated the medical cannabis industry by adding mandatory testing and seed-to-sale tracking. SB 333 also imposed a 4% tax on medical marijuana beginning July 1, 2017 and decreased to 2% beginning on July 1, 2018”

December 2016

“Montana District Judge James Reynolds restored patient access to medical marijuana, mandating the Montana Department of Health and Human Services immediately nullify the three-patient limit and ban on payment for providers.

Over 93 percent of patients had been cut off from medical marijuana after SB 423 from 2011 came into effect on August 29, 2016, forcing dispensary to abandon most patients.

Reynolds’ ruling granted a request in Broadwater County by Jim Goetz, representing the Montana Cannabis Industry Association, recognizing the implementation date of June 30 for the bill’s most important provisions was a clerical error” (source)

November 22, 2016

“Montana Cannabis Industry Association attorney Jim Goetz filed a request in Broadwater County district court on Tuesday to immediately implement medical marijuana reform Initiative 182 and restore access to thousands of patients otherwise cut off until June 30.

Goetz’ complaint contends the implementation date of June 30 is a scrivener’s error, and that voters passed I-182 under the belief it would be implemented immediately, not eight months later.

Three medical marijuana patients, a provider and an advocacy group also plan to ask a district judge to block the state from enforcing the three-patient cap on pot providers until the law is repealed.” (source)

September 1, 2016

The DPHHS sent out temporary 30-day provider cards to over 8,600 patients who didn’t tell the state who their new provider would be by the time the new law came into effect on Aug. 31. Those cards allow patients to cultivate their own plants for personal medical use only and possess up to an ounce of harvested marijuana. (source)

August 23, 2016

Flathead County Judge Heidi Ulbricht denied a request by Steve Zabawa and Safe Montana to put Initiative 176 on the November 2016 or the 2018 ballot if it couldn’t make that year. They argued it collected enough signatures to bring I-176 to voters, but the Secretary of State’s office said the group fell more than 4,000 short. (source)

July 13, 2016

Initiative 182 qualified for the November ballot.

February 29, 2016

The MTCIA submitted a ballot initiative to return the title “Montana Medical Marijuana Act” that legislators in 2011 decided to rename the “Montana Marijuana Act” as well as create licenses and allow for dispensaries, employees, transport, and testing labs; and adding PTSD to the eligible conditions. The initiative also removed the three patient limit. (source) (source)

February 25, 2016

Montana Supreme Court 6-1 ruling ruled to severely restrict sales of medical marijuana. “The decision upheld parts of a 2011 act that limits cannabis providers to three patients, outlaws advertising and enforces physician reviews — effectively sounding the death knell for most of the state’s 471 dispensaries.” Physicians who approve more than 25 people for medical marijuana will also face review from the state Board of Medical Examiners. (source) (source)

April 13, 2011

Governor Brian Schweitzer vetoed House Bill 161 and 16 other bills. HB 161, sponsored by House Speaker Mike Milburn, would completely repeal the medical marijuana program in Montana. (source)

March 14, 2011

Twenty-six search warrants were executed on March 14 by the FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and other federal agencies with the help of state and local law enforcement.


More than 2,880 marijuana plants and 258 kilograms of bulk and loose pot were seized, along with hundreds of unweighed containers of marijuana, hashish and food products that contain drugs, according to inventories filed with U.S. District Court in Missoula.

Also taken: 35 rifles and handguns, $37,193 in cash, five vehicles, a ski boat, computers, cell phones and cameras. Agents were authorized to seize up to $4.2 million from bank accounts in Kalispell, Helena and Belgrade, but the inventories did not include an amount actually taken.

U.S. Attorney Michael Cotter of the District of Montana has said the raids were part of an 18-month investigation into drug trafficking. No charges have been filed. (source)

October 1, 2009

Date businesses were required to adhere to the Montana Clean Indoor Air Act, prohibiting smoking in enclosed public spaces (source)

November 2, 2004

Montanans passed Initiative 148, beginning of medical marijuana in MT. The act protected patients, their doctors, and their caregivers from state and local arrest and prosecution for the medical use of marijuana. The measure was financially backed by the national group Marijuana Policy Project out of Washington, D.C. (source)

July 18, 1988

The Kurths pleaded guilty to drug offenses arising from their production of marijuana and were sentenced to prison (source)

October 18, 1987

Federal and county law-enforcement officers raided the Kurth’s farm after receiving a tip. (source)


the state banned all cannabis after a health committee meeting, which was described in the local paper as “great fun”, during which a representative justified the ban based on marijuana’s effects on Mexicans: “When some beet field peon takes a few rares of this stuff… he thinks he has just been elected president of Mexico so he starts out to execute all his political enemies.” (source)

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