Many have asked the question: Does the paperwork I turned in to become a provider cover me legally to do business until my provider card arrives?
According to the letter of the law, the answer is no. Caregivers no longer exist and until you get your provider card from the state, according to the letter of the law, you are not a provider. The only protection you would have is an intent to be in compliance. So while it would be unseemly for a county attorney to use a bureaucratic snafu to prosecute someone, there are no guarantees.
Modifications have to be made to the database at DPHHS before provider cards can be issued. Those who make changes to the database don’t just work for the division overseeing medical marijuana. They are making adjustments to the system for many divisions of DPHHS. Provider cards are expected to be out in between two and three weeks. Legally, the department has 35 working days from when the paperwork was turned in.
If we are successful in suspending the law through the initiative process, the department would seek to make the shift from “providers” back to “caregivers” without the sort of process we’re experiencing now. Since the requirements to be a provider are stricter than those to be a caregiver, those approved as providers would be clearly meeting the caregiver standard.
Also, if in taking the steps towards compliance, you turned in paperwork that didn’t include a patient’s signature, that patient still needs to fill out a change of provider form. They will match it up at DPHHS with the paperwork turned in by the provider.
Patient cards are good until they expire.
Keep in mind that the administrators of the medical marijuana program at DPHHS are authorized only to issue cards and keep a registry. They can’t answer questions about storefronts or plant sizes or caregiver-to-caregiver.
Having no place to take questions is one of the consequences of the 2011 legislature’s refusal to provide regulations and a regulatory system for medical marijuana in Montana. It puts Montana patients and providers in danger and results in law enforcement interpreting laws when their job is to enforce them.
A lot of people are working hard under insane conditions because the legislature didn’t do its job.