Montana Supreme Court Restores Restrictive MMJ Law, Advocates React
Joe | Sep 14, 2012 | Comments 0
A couple of days ago we told you about the Montana Supreme Court’s decision to restore the state’s restrictive new medical marijuana law, which basically leaves the decision on MMJ in the hands of voters this fall. And advocates in the state are responding.
“The Montana Supreme Court issued a ruling today in the Montana Cannabis Industry Association’s lawsuit against the State of Montana,” said Chris Lindsay of The MTCIA on the day of the ruling. “The Supreme Court reversed a lower court’s injunction against provisions of the state’s medical marijuana law, known as SB423, and ordered it to reconsider its decision using a different standard of review than previously applied. It is not clear based on the language in the Supreme Court’s decision whether or not the injunction is currently in effect, leaving hundreds of medical marijuana providers to wonder if they are currently in compliance with state law.
“While many will be quick to blame the Montana Supreme Court for what they may consider a bad decision, the real fault lies with the state legislature for passing an unworkable medical marijuana law. The law is fraught with impossible standards and barriers to participation, many of which were blocked because of the injunction. With those legal protections removed, it will finally be clear the extent to which SB423 was intended to end medical marijuana in Montana. This law isn’t regulation; it was never intended to be regulation. It was repeal in disguise and now voters and the rest of the country can see it for what it is.
“Despite this setback, the MTCIA is proud that it has been able to help protect thousands of patients from the worst effects of SB423 since it went into effect 15 months ago. And regardless of this ruling, the real solution lies ahead of us: Just because the Supreme Court says the legislature has a right to pass a bad law, that doesn’t mean the voters shouldn’t demand the legislature overturn it and pass something workable. The overwhelming majority of voters who supported the original medical marijuana law in 2004 have a chance to overturn this awful law and demand that the legislature do its job. Voters in Montana can overturn the current bad law by voting ‘No’ on IR-124 on November 6. In the mean time, our legal battle will continue. Our state representatives should stop trying to undo what the voters want. Instead, the legislature should develop a workable and rational system that serves both patients and their communities.”
Patients for Reform in Montana sent out a press release as well, urging voters to reject IR-124 on election day.
HELENA, Sept. 12 – Late Tuesday, the Montana Supreme Court ensured that voters will have the final say on the Legislature’s 2011 medical marijuana law this November, and Patients for Reform, Not Repeal believes voters will say “no” to it.
Lori Burnam, a 64-year-old cancer patient in Hamilton, said, “The court did not say whether this is a good or bad law, but I can tell you, for patients, this is a godawful law. Our rights have been violated, our access to medicine taken away. We are asking voters to listen to the patients. As voters learn more, they will go against IR-124.”
Burnam added, “To reclaim our rights and get real regulation for marijuana, we must defeat IR-124.”
IR-124 on the Nov. 6 ballot gives voters the chance to accept or reject Senate Bill 423, the draconian “grow your own” law passed by the Legislature in the 2011 session after repeal of voter-approved I-148. On Tuesday, the Montana Supreme Court reversed a lower court’s findings regarding some provisions of SB 423, effectively restoring parts of the law that had been enjoined.
Burnam said, “The timing of this ruling will energize our campaign. We are already hearing from people all over the state. Now the situation is crystal clear. We must defeat IR-124 in November, and we will.”
Burnam suffers from advanced cancer and has used medical marijuana to relieve pain, nausea and other side effects of her cancer treatment. She was one of three co-authors of arguments for the Voter Information Pamphlet against IR-124, along with patient Sarah Baugh and Dr. Edwin Stickney, past president of the Montana Medical Association and the Montana chapter of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
It’s now up to advocates and voters in Montana. Will patients continue to get the short end of the stick, or will their rights be restored and hopefully someday expanded on?