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The MTCIA vs. the State of Montana

Published 17/02/2018 in Cannabis - 0 Comments

Tomorrow’s the big day, the Montana Cannabis Industry Association (MTCIA) vs. the State of Montana. If Judge Reynolds determines there is significant evidence that the MTCIA might prevail in their case, SB 423 will not go into effect on July 1.

SB 423 was passed by the Montana 2011 Legislature and allowed to become law by the Governor though without his signature. SB 423 repeals the former medical cannabis statutes and replaces them with a model that makes access to cannabis nearly impossible for more than 30,000 patients unless they each grow it for themselves (regardless of their debilitating conditions) or can find someone willing to be registered and fingerprinted in order to grow it for them for free. The law destroys access for patients, destroys businesses, eliminates jobs, damages local economies, and it also makes referring doctors suspect. If a physician makes more than 25 medical cannabis referrals, they are to be investigated by the MT Board of Medical Examiners. The physician will also be required to pay for the investigation. It is another way the law eliminates access for patients. Already, some doctors have said they are no longer willing to make referrals.

On Monday, June 20, the MTCIA will present its case. On Tuesday, June 21, the State will present theirs. The judge will make his decision before the implementation date of July 1, 2011. If SB 423 is allowed to go into effect, all current caregivers (cannabis providers) are expected to drop all their cannabis off at the local police station on June 30.

Will the judicial system be allowed to undertake its process without interference? Will more federal raids be staged to coincide with state policy-making, just as the raids of March 14 were timed exactly to Montana’s Senate Judiciary’s vote on repeal? Will federal indictments from those raids conveniently be handed down the week decisions are being made by state courts? No one’s been charged yet from those raids. Were indictments being “saved” so to be conveniently served up to impact state policy, yet again?

It almost sounds too heavy-handed. Any bets?

Possible outcomes from this week’s hearing include:

  1. The judge could rules against MTCIA, and SB 423 becomes law on July 1st. If MTCIA has the funds available (donate today, please), there will be an appeal.
  2. The judge rules totally in MTCIA’s favor, and SB 423 is struck down in its entirety. The state (probably) would appeal such a decision.
  3. The judge could strike portions of SB 423 as unconstitutional, but allow the rest to become law on July 1st. Depending on the details, either or both sides could appeal.
  4. The judge could conclude that irreparable harm would occur if the law goes into effect, and also that the constitutional issues are important but complicated, and so order a delay of implementation of SB 423 for weeks or months.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said he would be making an announcement clarifying the federal position on states with medical cannabis laws. It is rumored that announcement may come this week. Clarity would be helpful, although the last time they clarified and said they would not interfere unless state laws were being broken, it didn’t seem to mean much.  We’ll see.

 In the next ten days, we’re going to see a lot.