Marion Thompson

Judge Rules Montana Dispensaries are Back in Business Immediately

A Montana District Court Judge has ruled that a clerical error on November’s ballot initiative to reinstate the previous medical cannabis program rules should not prohibit the new regime from taking effect immediately, the Associated Press reports.

Judge James Reynolds said that the drafting error, which made the effective date of the initiative July 1, should not keep critically ill patients from accessing their much-needed medicine immediately. In 2011, Reynolds blocked the legislature-imposed three-patient limit twice.

“The folks that are maybe the most in need are the least able to provide, to grow their own,” Reynolds said in the ruling. “I think speed is more important than niceties.”

Kate Cholewa, the lobbyist for the measure’s advocates, said that despite the ruling it remains unclear how long it would take for providers who shuttered their operations to get back online. The shutdown earlier last year has led to supply shortages and many doctors need to be re-certified for the program.

“The people who work providing marijuana in Montana were, let’s face it, they were jerked around quite a bit,” Cholewa said in the report. “They are somewhat used to it and very good at coming back.”

The Health Department, who did not oppose the efforts to change the effective date, reported an increase in medical cannabis applications after the ruling, receiving 70 applications for cardholders and providers after the decision was handed down.

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