It was only a couple of weeks ago that we found out that over 10,000 medical marijuana patients in Montana are likely to be left without access to their medicine soon. Now we’re finding out that “soon” is a lot sooner than anyone would have guessed.
Announced Tuesday March 15th by an attorney for the Montana Supreme Court, dispensaries with more than three patients will have to limit their patients to three or close their doors no more than 49 days from the date of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
This means dispensaries will be shut down and patients will be cut off by April 14th. Currently, around 350 of the 476 dispensaries and providers in the state will have to discontinue their services. The state has a total of 13,594 patients registered as medical marijuana patients – and this law leaves thousands and thousands of people without much needed medicine.
“We are concerned about the ability of thousands of patients with serious medical conditions to access a treatment that has been approved by their doctors,” Ebelt (spokesman for the Department of Public Health and Human Services) said. “Because of these concerns, we support delaying this decision until the 2017 Legislature has a chance to respond.”
It will take longer than 49 days for the state lawmakers to be ready to enforce such a law – it will also take much, much longer to set up more providers and create access for the thousands of people who will go untreated until something can be done. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has decided that since the original 2011 bill only allowed 49 days, the timeframe should remain 49 days.
“I don’t feel that they have the best interests of the patients of Montana in mind,” he said. (Bob Devine President of the Montana Cannabis Industry Association)
The state’s medical marijuana advocates were the ones who stepped forward and sued the state for their decision – and now they are asking the courts to reconsider, though the Assistant Attorney General responded that they were absolutely sticking with the original timeframe in the legislature they passed.
With doctors being limited to 25 patients per year (any more than that leading to an immediate investigation), and bans on advertising, the lack of access for the patients who are already enrolled in the program and the lack of ability for any new patients to enroll with such conditions, the entire thing is likely to fall apart.
It’s not justice to allow people who finally found relief to suffer. It’s just not right. These patients deserve access to their medicine – but hopefully, the same advocates who sued the state will be able to get a petition through this year that would reverse all of this in 2017. One thing is for sure, as soon as a petition is around, it is guaranteed at least 13,594 signatures, plus their families and friends.