Montana judge not that happy with new medical marijuana laws

As Montana’s medical marijuana law is set to be constricted to the point where almost no one will have access to it, hope is rising that a judge may strike at least parts of the law this week.

The law, as set to be implemented July 1, would restrict medical marijuana to those who can either grow their own or convince someone to grow it for them at no charge. A lawsuit filed by medical marijuana advocates to stop implementation of the law has been heard and all parties are waiting for the judge’s ruling, expected any time now.

From Forbes:

A Helena judge said (last) Wednesday that he is “struggling” with Montana’s new medical marijuana law and indicated he may temporarily block at least parts of it before it takes effect on July 1.

District Judge James Reynolds specifically mentioned concerns with a provision that bars commercial marijuana operations by prohibiting providers from making a profit or being reimbursed for their expenses.

Reynolds said the state doesn’t have a similar prohibition on pharmaceutical companies that profit from prescription drugs. But the new law would force marijuana providers to give their product away to people with debilitating illnesses, he said.

“The state is truly relying on guardian angels coming forward,” Reynolds said.

If the judge lets all or most of the new law stand, medical cannabis advocates have a back-up plan, which is to go back to the voters.

For now, Montanans are in limbo, with some dispensaries already cutting their losses and shutting down and others hanging in there in the fierce belief that the judge will strike down the new law.

While the Legislature declared the law was making marijuana too easy to get, the restrictions would make it difficult for some of the state’s sickest people to get the medicine.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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