From the AP:
A judge has ruled that a voter initiative that will re-open Montana’s medical marijuana dispensaries should take effect immediately.
District Judge James Reynolds of Helena ruled Wednesday that an error in drafting the ballot measure should not delay patients’ access to the drug until July.
The judge says the people who are the most in need are those who are seriously ill and are the least able to grow their own marijuana.
The initiative approved by voters last month struck down a law that limited medical marijuana providers to three patients each. But a mistake in the final draft of the measure delayed the effective date until July 1.
The three-patient limit has been in effect since Aug. 31. It forced the closure of marijuana dispensaries across the state and left thousands of registered users without providers.
Ryan Saghatelian, owner of the Greener Pastures dispensary in Bozeman, Montana, told Cannabis Now he received the news via text messages from Bob Devine* of the Montana Cannabis Industry Association — “we did it,” and “time to get back to work.”
“I think it is great that Judge Reynolds has again decided to help sick Montanans access medical cannabis,” Saghatelian said, noting that nearly 10,000 patients in Montana are currently suffering from the lack of access. “We are planning on opening the doors as soon as we get the valid cards back from the state.”
He added that it will take four months for Green Pastures to develop and harvest a new crop.
“You can’t just switch on a light and have access,” he said. “Hopefully there will be enough medicine to go around.”
Montana budtender “John” believed lawmakers have intentionally road blocked the issue at various points since 2004.
“I believe Judge Reynolds has always seen it as a battle of the people versus the legislature,” he said. “He’s upholding the will of the people as he sees it.”
Prior to today’s ruling, John had already began planning his move to a more friendly state. Now he says those plans are cancelled.
“I’m definitely staying in town now,” he said.
Unlike more metropolitan dispensaries, John worked in rural Montana and would often run into patients when he left the house. He looks forward to the prospects of more upbeat interactions with them soon.
“It’s really frustrating,” he said. “Seeing these people we were providing a better quality of life to basically anytime I go into town.”
Saghatelian believes more people will now come into the system with the solid law. No matter what patients will need to reapply with providers and get a new medical cannabis registration card and a recommendation.
“I am sure the state will be flooded with paperwork and I hope they can keep up,” he said. “We look forward to providing to Montana patients soon.”
Tom Angell, Chairman of Marijuana Majority, shared the prevailing enthusiasm, but urged people to hold legislators accountable for honoring the ruling.
“It’s great news that patients will see their safe access to cannabis restored sooner than might have been the case if this ruling went the other way. Let’s not forget, though, that they never should have lost it to begin with,” he said. “Let’s hope that state lawmakers hear the message voters sent in November loud and clear and that they don’t try to further muck with the medical marijuana program again.”
Reporting by Matt Volz, Associated Press & Jimi Devine, Cannabis Now
*no relation to Jimi Devine
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