While medical marijuana will still be legal in Montana after July 1, the opportunity to purchase and use it has just narrowed.
Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, who was critical of the bill that worked its way through the legislature, pushed through some minor amendments. Although he said that he is not happy with SB 423, Schweitzer said that he would not sign nor veto the bill. That means it becomes law in 10 days without his signature.
The new law forbids the selling of marijuana for “anything of value, including monetary remuneration.” It restricts a caregiver to only take care of three patients.
That will force the closing of numerous legal marijuana operations throughout the state and the loss of hundreds of jobs.
Basically, the state will shift to a legal medical marijuana industry that only allows patients or their small circle of caregivers to get marijuana by growing their own.
Marijuana is used by some very sick people. Tending to marijuana plants may be beyond their ability. That means they are forced to have other people, licensed by the state, to grow the pot for them. Yet, the people helping to provide marijuana to sick people cannot take money for their efforts. This is a grow your own or find someone to provide marijuana for free bill.
Simply put – this is impractical.
There is not a single pharmaceutical product in the country with similar restrictions. No other caregivers are required to provide services for free either. The opponents of medical marijuana are trying to kill the legal use by imposing impractical restrictions.
With 30,000 legal marijuana users in Montana, opponents of medical marijuana have become fearful of non-medical use by a few thousand. Tighter restrictions on the non-medical use could be developed, but the opponents went straight to law enforcement on how to remake the law instead of consulting medical and legal experts on how to build a better law. This is a law to enhance enforcement, not improve medical care.
However, as Schweitzer pointed out, the law would allow 10,000 caregivers to grow marijuana for the state’s patients, something that law enforcement might find difficult to control.
Of course, Montana could legalize marijuana too, and in a free society where people are supposed to be able to make their own choices, that would seem to be the American way.
At least the bars are still open and cigarettes are still sold at the gas stations. Brew your own liquor and grow your own tobacco laws are not likely to appear and keep Montana consistent.