Pending Changes to the MTCIA’s Injunction on the Current Medical Marijuana Law

September 24, 2012

Many providers are rightfully concerned about the upcoming changes to the injunction the MTCIA obtained on our current medical marijuana law. Unless you have been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks, you likely know that the Montana Supreme Court issued a decision that requires that the injunction be changed, and ordered the lower court to reconsider the basis for issuing it.

The injunction blocked several of the worst provisions of the current medical marijuana law. The state’s AG’s office did not like a couple of the aspects of the injunction and appealed those in particular (but not the entire injunction). Specifically, the AG appealed the limitation on the total number of patients a provider can serve (capped at 3 patients) and the prohibition on providers receiving “anything of value.” If and when the injunction is modified, those restrictions will be in place.

Then question now is: When will that change happen? If no further action is taken in the MTCIA case, the injunction would be modified on the 26th of September. HOWEVER, our attorney, Jim Goetz, is filing a document with the Montana Supreme Court that requests that they take a closer look at some of his arguments in the case, and the injunction will not be changed from its current form (same as it has been for over a year) until that process is complete.

Once Jim Goetz files the document, called a “petition for rehearing,” the state’s Attorney General will have up to 15 days to respond. At that point, the Supreme Court will review the arguments and make a determination. Only after the Supreme Court is done with its review will the modification to the injunction take effect. We do not know how long it will take the AG to respond, nor do we know how long it will take the Supreme Court to make a final decision. There is a good chance we will get past November 6, but there is no way to know for sure. After a conversation with Mr. Goetz this morning, he expects to file that document later today, September 24.

DPHHS has sent letters out to all of the providers they think will be affected by the injunction change, asking them to identify the patients they expect to keep. That caused some concern among providers because some read it to mean that the injunction change happened already or would happen on the 26th. In fact, it was an effort on the department’s part to simply be prepared for the change when it went into effect. I have spoken with the program director, and she understands that everyone is waiting to hear back from the Supreme Court before the injunction change happens.

Once we get more information on this change, we will post it here. And don’t forget about our state-wide call on Wednesday, September 26th at 7:00 MST.