Montana MMJ Providers Close Shop as New Law Takes Effect

Medical marijuana providers in Montana are closing for business ahead of new rules being implemented in the state that prevent dispensaries from serving more than three patients, the Missoulian reports.

The new rules, which also include an automatic review of doctors who recommend cannabis to more than 25 patients, take effect on Aug. 31 – 10 weeks before voters will decide whether or not to revert back to the old system.

The new rules were passed by the Montana legislature in 2011 over concerns that people with minor ailments were accessing the drug for mostly recreational use. The law underwent five years of legal challenges which prevented its implementation. More than 30,000 Montana residents have registered in the program.

Nick Frentsos, owner of Bloom Montana, said it is “a financial decision” to close his shop, which opened a year ago, and serves more than 100 patients.

“…that financial decision is affected by the legal limits of the new law,” he said in the report. “If we could provide for maybe 12 people, then it might be reasonable to stay open. But that’s not the case.”

At the program’s peak in June 2011, 4,650 dispensaries operated in the state. As of last month, that number had dropped 89 percent to 487.

The ballot initiative, I-182, would remove the provisions of the 2011 law, add post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of qualified conditions, and require product testing.      

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