August 30, 2010

Montana Medical Marijuana Law Reform Outlined

August 30, 2010
Medical Marijuana

Montana is getting closer to reforming their medical marijuana regulations. The Children, Families, Health and Human Services Interim Committee voted 7-1 Tuesday to have a bill drafted and prepared for introduction before the 2011 Legislature convenes in January.

All this is in response to the unexpected growth of medical marijuana users and businesses. A year ago, the state had fewer than 4,000 marijuana patients. Now, almost 23,000 people have a medical marijuana card.

The proposed bill supported by the committee outlines these provisions:

– Medical marijuana patients would have to be Montana residents. Current law contains no such requirement.

– Physicians certifying patients for marijuana use must meet a detailed “standard of care” that includes a physical examination, maintaining of patient records and monitoring response to the treatment.

– Patients seeking a medical marijuana card to treat “chronic pain” must get a recommendation from at least two physicians, not one. Nearly 70 percent of cardholders obtained a card after being diagnosed with chronic pain.

– Medical marijuana “caregivers,” who now can have an unlimited number of patients for whom they provide and grow marijuana, would be limited to five patients and reclassified as “providers.”

– New categories of marijuana “dispensaries” and “growers” would be created, must be licensed by the state and could grow marijuana tied to specific patients who sign up with a dispensary or provider. The businesses would provide quarterly reports on their amount of customers and marijuana grown and distributed.

– Licensed providers, growers and dispensaries would have to undergo a fingerprinting and background check by state officials. Convicted felons could not get a license, and people on parole or probation with the Department of Corrections could not get a medical marijuana card.

– The Department of Revenue would handle licensing of growers, dispensaries and providers.

– Smoking medical marijuana in “plain view of or in a place open to the general public” would be prohibited.

– Counties and cities would be allowed to use zoning regulations to restrict, but not prohibit, marijuana businesses.

This is just the start of a long legislative process, but we here at The Weed Blog will be sure to keep you posted on updates as they become available.

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