Efforts Underway to Keep the Montana Medical Marijuana Program Alive

October 18, 2012

As many of you know, the recent Montana Supreme Court decision in the MTCIA lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the current medical marijuana law is now being reconsidered by the Court. Our attorney, Jim Goetz, filed a Petition for Rehearing on September 25. The state’s Attorney General filed a response on October 9. The matter is now being reconsidered by the Supreme Court, and we do not know when a decision will be rendered. While it is possible a decision may not come until after the election on November 6 (giving voters a chance to overturn the entire law), one could be issued at any time. We, along with the Montana Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Public Health and Human Services are standing by to see what happens.

The reason this is a critical time is that the instant the Montana Supreme Court is done with its reconsideration, it is likely the injunction, blocking particularly bad portions of the law, is modified. Providers will be limited to no more than 3 patients, and will not be able to accept anything of value from their patients. (This second limitation is usually misreported by the state press as a limitation on “profit,” but in fact the current law prohibits any form of compensation for production costs or anything else besides registration fees with the state.)

If the order takes place and the law has not been overturned due to the election, DPHHS will have no choice but to notify 5,500 patients they no longer have a provider and must grow their own marijuana, or find someone besides their current provider who is willing and able to grow for them for free. The effect this will have on thousands of the state’s most vulnerable citizens cannot be understated. The rug will be pulled out from under them by the proponents of our current medical marijuana law, and their dream of a virtual repeal of the law will finally be a reality.

Jim Goetz has been busy preparing for the point at which the Supreme Court issues its order to insure we do not see a complete train wreck. If the order comes out before the November election date, he will immediately file a Motion for Interlocutory Injunctive Relief. Essentially, this means he will repeat the steps he took for us in June of last year, in which he asked the district court to immediately block the effect of the law until a hearing can take place. Our hope is that we can hold off the worst of the effects of this ruling by the Montana Supreme Court and the workings of the medical marijuana law until we can get back in court.

We greatly appreciate the hard work Mr. Goetz is doing on behalf of the thousands of patients in our state that are too ill or simply are not able for many reasons to grow their own medicine.