On February 25, 2016, after five years of legal wrangling, the Montana Supreme Court ruled in favor of the State and allowed the 2011 law to go into near full effect, thereby, for all practical purposes, wiping out access to medical marijuana in Montana.
“In that decision,” Cholewa said, “the Court said they were compelled to reach the decision they did because of the federal illegal status of marijuana. However, as our attorney Jim Goetz spells out in his brief, under federal law, marijuana is not universally illegally.”
Attorney Jim Goetz argues in his brief that that the 2015 Consolidated Appropriations Act provided that none of the appropriated funds made available to the Department of Justice may be used with respect to the enumerated states “to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”
Montana is one of the enumerated states.
This misapprehension of federal law, Goetz states in his brief, pervasively infects the entirety of the Court’s Opinion.
“Our attorney believes there has been a misapprehension of the federal position and so, accordingly,” Cholewa said, “the U.S. Supreme Court should assume jurisdiction.”
The U.S. Supreme Court will either accept or deny the case before they recess in June. They may also choose to do nothing until they reconvene in October.
“The MTCIA has been clear and consistent with Montana’s medical marijuana patients that we would leave no stone left unturned to preserve a continuum of access,” Cholewa said. “The Montana court could have delayed implementation until after the election, or legislature, but chose not to.”
“Our primary goal remains to pass a responsible, accountable medical marijuana law in Montana,” Cholewa added. “With our citizens’ initiative, I-182, the MTCIA is working toward this end. In our appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, we are aiming to preserve a continuum of access for citizens who depend on medical marijuana to manage their illnesses. Cancer patients and others with debilitating conditions are counting on us. We need avoid a lapse in access.”