Montana medical cannabis providers were required to submit their fingerprints to DPHHS by October 1, a requirement that concerned many. Ninety-three providers have dropped off the provider registry as a result of this requirement, most by choice, a few due to technical problems with their submission. With the number of providers down near a mere 300 and patient numbers in the 25,000 range, and more than 19,000 patients without providers, it is clear that many patients have had to resort to the black market for their cannabis. During the 2011 legislative session, many called SB 423 “the black market” bill. The nickname seems to have panned out.
While provider numbers drop, the number of physicians providing referrals has remained consistent. The medical marijuana program at DPHHS has recently hired additional staff and hope soon to have mail processed in the same week it is received. Nonetheless, patients should be diligent in meeting their renewal deadlines. Aim for submitting your paperwork to DPHHS a month before your card expires.
Meanwhile, the reversal of Missoula’s ordinance giving low priority for misdemeanor marijuana offenses has gone into effect as the result of legislation passed during the 2011 legislature. Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Vaulkenburg had to go all the way to Roundup to find a legislator to sponsor a bill overturning Missoula voters’ will but he found one in Rep. Tom Berry.
Then, last week, the DEA sent the message to California that they are cracking down on medical marijuana dispensaries. The warning included a letter sent to at least 16 dispensaries or their landlords informing them to close within 45 days or face criminal prosecution.
The connection between the people and the government widens.