Medical marijuana decision hurts the sick, enriches criminals

An Editorial from the Montana Standard:


While some Montanans horrified at marijuana’s ubiquity in the state, and in today’s culture, may be celebrating, we find the state Supreme Court’s decision effectively gutting the voter-passed medical marijuana law regrettable.

We certainly do not advocate the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, as has been done in Washington and Colorado. We also believe the ranks of the state’s medical-marijuana patients may have been swollen by overprescribing doctors. But cannabis indisputably has medical application for sufferers of myriad diseases, including those struggling with many types of cancers. That’s why 22 states have decided to make the drug available legally for prescribed medical use, as did Montana voters a decade ago. The medical-marijuana measure garnered 62 percent of the vote.

The clear intent of the Legislature’s bill, almost totally upheld by the Supreme Court, was to eviscerate the law and make it impossible for anyone to continue in business as a legal provider to correctly certified patients. That’s what’s unfortunate. Obviously none or almost none of the state’s 442 providers will be able to stay in business with a maximum of three customers each. And neither will nearly all of the 13,000 holders of medical prescriptions for the drug’s use be able to find legal sources to obtain it.

Pragmatically, if the people who really need the drug for medical reasons are now forced to the streets – a risky proposition at best considering the state’s marijuana possession laws are among the harshest in the nation – the trade becomes a drain on local and state resources rather than a revenue source. It enriches criminals, from local growers to cartel shippers. It multiplies challenges for drug-law enforcers already taxed with the scourge of meth and bracing for the onslaught of opioid issues other jurisdictions across the country have seen. And it criminalizes sick people.

Also, the court’s action undermines the clear intent of the voting public, and therefore weakens the rule of law.

Perhaps the Legislature – and the Supreme Court – believe they have struck a valuable blow for the forces of rectitude in the culture wars. From here, it looks like a pyrrhic, and punitive, victory.

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