When it comes to medical marijuana in the state of Montana, the transitions and rules have been a roller coaster ride for patients desperately seeking treatment. While medical marijuana was approved in 2004, the rules that accompanied the law in 2011 made it difficult for many patients to receive the treatment they needed.
The 2011 amendments to the law prohibited dispensaries from selling to more than three registered patients each, began the automatic reviewing of any doctor that recommended cannabis to more than 25 patients in a year, and prohibited any form of marijuana. With only 130 licensed medical marijuana providers, and over 13,000 registered patients, it's easy to see the flaws in this new system. In fact, as many as 12,000 patients will be losing access to pot since their providers did not choose them as one of their three patients.
The rules regarding medical marijuana in Montana resulted in a 5 year stretch of legal battles with no success. Finally, in August 2016, dispensaries sold the last of their inventory and shut down.
During the November elections, a new ballot regarding medical marijuana was passed, and card carriers were once again able to purchase cannabis from the dispensary of their choosing. However, the new law is not without restrictions. Patients are limited to one ounce of cannabis and the cultivation of up to four mature plants and up to 12 seedlings. Patients are prohibited from taking any amount of cannabis outside of state lines and from driving under the influence of cannabis (DUI).
While the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana usage has grown since the November elections, it remains one of the shortest lists in the country.
As cannabis laws in Montana change, it's important to remain aware of current laws at all times. Only through education and advocacy can patients receive the treatment they deserve.