Montana medical cannabis patients are battling for the right to safely access the therapeutical plant, after the Supreme Court of the United States today rejected efforts to salvage the state’s industry as it currently stands.
This morning, SCOTUS dismissed an appeal from the Montana Cannabis Industry Association designed to buy the industry more time. Montana patients could face outlet closures by August 31, or even sooner if prosecutors in the state get the green-light.
Montana narrowly legalized medical cannabis for patients more than a decade ago, and the state industry expanded until 2011, when lawmakers began shrinking the number of medical cannabis outlets and providers.
This February, the Montana State Supreme Court upheld lawmakers’ efforts, finding existing law does not legalize retail stores where patients can pick up their medicine.
In response, the Montana Cannabis Industry Association asked the state to halt enforcement of the ruling until SCOTUS could weigh in or the November election. A Montana judge allowed the stay until August 31. With the SCOTUS dismissal, and the general election in November, patients are now in danger of losing access in the interim.
“We’re disappointed, of course,” stated Kate Cholewa on behalf of the MTCIA. “The consequences are serious, particularly for cancer patients and those in hospice care. It makes the requested stay on the August 31 decision all the more critical.”
The MCIA is working on Initiative 182, a citizens’ initiative to create a new medical marijuana law legalizing licensed outlets. The group recently submitted 42,000 raw petition signatures, almost twice as many as the 24,175 valid signatures need to to qualify for the November ballot.
State prosecutors are working to lift the stay and arrest providers before the election. Patient advocates want law enforcement to hold off until a vote of the people.
“There’s no point in denying people access to their medicine come August 31 when the election less than 10 weeks later will likely re-establish a new, accountable and responsible program,” stated Cholewa.
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