Montana Votes to Bring Back Medical Cannabis
Montana voters decided to restore medical marijuana in their state in Tuesday’s election.
With the passage of Initiative 182 marijuana dispensaries, forced to close in August to comply with an order from the Supreme Court, will now be able to re-open.
“I think it’s great that Montana voters were compassionate enough to give sick and suffering patients access to medical marijuana,” said Ryan Saghatelin, owner of Greener Pastures dispensary in Bozeman, Montana.
The victory for medical marijuana in Montana represents the close of a five-year battle that began in 2011, when state law was changed to adopt new regulations including restricting cannabis providers providers to a maximum of three patients. The AP reports the law, “forced dispensaries to close their doors and left thousands of registered users without a legal way to access the drug.”
Greener Pastures was one of hundreds of dispensaries forced to close its doors on Aug. 31 pending the results of the Nov. 8 election. Saghatelin said during the interim period he kept the lease on his dispensary “lost money and kept the faith.”
I-182’s passage means dispensaries across the state will now be able to re-open. In addition, they will no longer face the threat of police conducting unannounced inspections of their facilities. While the majority of the law will come into effect June 30, 2017, Saghatelin said he has been told a court hearing could result in implementation of the initiative within a short time period.
Under the new initiative, doctors will also be able to recommend medical marijuana to more than 25 patients. In addition, I-182 adds PTSD as a qualifying condition for medical cannabis.
Tuesday’s vote, with 56 percent in favor of the initiative, shows voter backing in the battle for patients rights in Montana that began with the passage of Senate Bill 423 in 2011.
Montana adopted medical marijuana in 2004, and experienced explosive growth – rising from about 1,000 patients to more than 25,000 from 2008-2010. A series of sweeping DEA raids in 2009 proceeded the restrictive 2011 law.
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