Montana Supreme Court Restores Restrictive Medical Marijuana Law
Joe | Sep 12, 2012 | Comments 0
More than a year after District Court Judge Jim Reynolds blocked major portions of Montana’s restrictive new medical marijuana law, the state’s Supreme Court has overturned his decision and fully restored the restrictive law.
The justices ruled that the portion of the 2011 state law that limits the number of patients per provider to three and prohibits those providers from making a profit does not violate the Montana Constitution’s right to privacy or to pursue employment and health.
Last year, District Judge Jim Reynolds last year blocked four provisions of the law from taking effect.
Medical marijuana advocates had argued the new law was an unconstitutional violation of registered patients’ right to pursue good health and privacy, while also violating the providers’ right to pursue employment. The plaintiffs had asked the high court to expand Reynolds’ decision and block the entire state law.
But the Supreme Court said in its 6-1 decision that the Legislature was within its rights to gut the voter-approved initiative that brought medical pot to the state. The court said rights to health and privacy do not protect medical marijuana use.
“In pursuing one’s own health, an individual has a fundamental right to obtain and reject medical treatment. But, this right does not extend to give a patient a fundamental right to use any drug, regardless of its legality,” the opinion by Justice Michael Wheat said. “Thus, we conclude, in pursuing health, an individual does not have a fundamental, affirmative right of access to a particular drug.”
While more states continue to move forward in terms of progress with medical marijuana laws, state official in Montana insist on the destruction of their state’s MMJ industry. But there is hope for patients in Montana.
The ruling comes less than two months before voters make their own decision on the matter. A ballot initiative asks voters to reject the Legislature’s restrictive law, and return to the original law enacted by voters in 2004.
If that passes, hopefully those in the Montana Legislature get the message and leave medical marijuana alone.