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Montana Judge Blocks Key Medical Marijuana Law Provisions

By Kyle Meagher

District Judge James Reynolds of Helena has struck down enforcement of multiple key provisions in Montana’s state medical marijuana law.

The judge permanently changed the 2011 medical marijuana law this past Friday — a law that many considered too restrictive.

Under the law, selling medical marijuana for profit to a medical marijuana cardholder would be illegal, meaning patients would legally have no other option than to grow their own plants to obtain marijuana. Providers will now be able to purchase and use medical marijuana for commercial sale.

In addition, medical pot providers will be able to advertise their product, as well as provide for more than three licensed medical marijuana patients. Before, a provider was only allowed to serve up to three cardholders and only as non-profit.

Reynolds also nixed the provision that the state be required to provide the Board of Medical Examiners with the names of any physician who, during a 12-month period, has written certifications for 25 or more medical cannabis patients. If so, the physician would be subject to an automatic review by the Board of Medical Examiners.

The judge did, however, side with the state on certain challenged aspects of the provision.

The state Department of Public Health and Human Services, along with state and local law enforcement agencies, will be allowed to make unannounced inspections of medical providers during normal business hours.

Also, those who are on probation or any type of supervision from the state Department of Corrections will continue to be restricted from obtaining medical marijuana cards.

For Attorney James Goetz of Bozeman, representative of the Montana Cannabis Industry Association, this was the best decision they could have asked for.

“It’s a pretty complete victory for us,” Goetz said. “Those are two tangential provisions that he (the judge) upheld.”

After passing the medical marijuana initiative in Montana in 2004, the State Legislature passed restrictions to the bill in 2011.

The restrictions came at a time when medical marijuana cards were being distributed at an increasingly high rate, from 2,074 patients in March of 2009 to 31,522 in May 2011.

As of November 2014, the number decreased to 9,619.

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