Following the Supreme Court ruling yesterday, our case is now back before district court in Helena. Our attorney Jim Goetz filed a motion for a Temporary Restraining Order this morning to keep the state from enforcing SB423’s limit of 3 or fewer patients for providers and the ban on any form of compensation for back-end agricultural costs and overhead. He also asked for a new injunction which would reinstate the portions of the injunction overturned by the Montana Supreme Court.
The judge held a hearing today with our attorney and the attorney general’s office to discuss the Temporary Restraining Order. The judge decided he will not rule on the TRO until the close of the day on Friday. That means that currently, providers can not have more than 3 patients and cannot receive anything of value from the patients they have.
The MTCIA argued strongly that this would have a devastating effect on the providers out there because once operations stop, they will be very difficult if not impossible to start up again should the TRO come out a few days from now. The state argued that under the new standard set by the Supreme Court, we are unlikely to get a new injunction and so a TRO is a waste of time. Both sides buried the judge in a blizzard of documents and the judge felt he needed to review everything before making his decision – thus telling the two sides they would have to wait until Friday for his answer despite our arguments.
In the mean time, DPHHS will start sending letters out to patients in the morning (Thursday) telling them they have 30 days to declare a new provider or notify the state they will grow their own. The Department will send letters in alphabetical order and it will likely take a few days to get all 5,500 letters in the mail.