As many of you know, more federal raids took place in the Billings area on Wednesday, February 28th. We are saddened that the federal government continues to harass people who are attempting to abide by a law created and adopted by our own state legislature. The U.S. Attorneys Office has released that searches were completed in at least four medical marijuana businesses. The MTCIA has only been able to confirm two of those searches – one storefront and one warehouse. Despite what some media outlets have reported, these were not just ‘inspections’ or ‘searches’. No arrests were made, but the owners had plants, scales, and other items seized by federal agents. Our Attorney General (Montana’s chief law enforcement officer) and our elected Sheriffs (whose law enforcement powers exceed that of any other state or federal official) continue to remain silent on the matter.
The federal government has said that they will not go after patients, but it’s a sad irony that patients are the ones that will suffer the most from this, both physically and emotionally. Few providers have been able to survive the inhospitable atmosphere in Yellowstone County. Considering that Billings is Montana’s largest city, it is easy to assume that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of patients without a provider. How many of them have turned to the black market because it now seems safer and more certain than obtaining their medicine legally? Our state legislature agreed that only those that are really sick need access to medical marijuana. The limited access that existed prior to February 28 is now much tighter. It is patients like Jolie that will really suffer. A stay-at-home with MS is one of the latest victims of the failing War on Drugs.
We find it disappointing that unlike Washington, Colorado and California, the Department of Justice has not provided any warning to providers to enable them to cease operations before raiding businesses and homes. The primary difference between those states and Montana is that they all have solid medical marijuana laws that have substantial regulation (not one tied up in litigation). That leaves everyone in Montana left in this industry in an especially vulnerable position. It is more imperative now than it has ever been to strictly adhere to state law. (We will be publishing a FAQ in the near future regarding SB 423 as it currently stands to answer any questions you might have regarding the law.)
It is important to know that even if the lawsuit against the state is successful, the medical marijuana industry will continue to be vulnerable until we have a regulatory law in place to protect us. There are still no guarantees against federal interference after that, but it is the best that we can hope to accomplish until federal laws change.
The country is reaching a tipping point in regards to marijuana. More and more people are admitting that the War on Drugs has been a huge failure and a drain on depleting resources. More and more people are willing to see and call out the Reefer Madness for what it is – madness. Something is going to give in the not too distant future, but predicting when would be like pulling a number out of the air. In the meantime, mind your p’s and q’s and keep fighting the good fight.