By Associated Press
(AP) — Montana residents will be legally able to grow and possess marijuana beginning Dec 31, 2020, as a voter-passed law to legalize recreational marijuana begins to take effect.
Residents can possess up to one ounce of marijuana or eight grams of concentrates and can grow up to four marijuana plants at their homes and transport it freely within the state, Lee Newspapers of Montana reported.
Under the new law, dispensaries and providers will remain unable to apply for a marijuana business license through the Department of Revenue until October, and won’t be able to sell cannabis commercially until January 2022.
The Montana Department of Justice has been in contact with local attorneys about changes in criminal law since voters approved the ballot initiative by 57% in November, officials said.
People with misdemeanor possession convictions will be able to begin the process of expunging the charges from their records starting Jan. 1. Montana Supreme Court Administrator Beth McLaughlin said Monday that data on marijuana convictions that qualify for expungement was not immediately available.
“Every case is different and has unique facts, so you have to look at each one and make sure it fits the criteria,” Helena criminal defense attorney Jenny Kaleczyc said. “In some cases, that criteria may be in dispute. We’ll find out.”
It’s unclear yet what role the state office of the public defender will take on the expungement process.
Driving under the influence of marijuana is still illegal, as is delivering or distributing marijuana to someone who is under 21.
“The big thing is for the most part, with some exceptions, it eliminates marijuana enforcement,” Cascade County Attorney Josh Racki said, adding that there are still some civil fines for certain violations.
Racki said the initiative included $50 fines for smoking marijuana in public and $250 fines for growing marijuana somewhere visible from a public place. It is unclear who would enforce those regulations.
Montana became the 14th state to legalize recreational marijuana with the passage of Initiative 190 and Constitutional Amendment 118, which enshrined legal marijuana use in the state Constitution.