The integration of cannabis into the society will have far-reaching impacts - not as a result of people consuming it, but as a result of people understanding it. The emerging legitimate cannabis market and industry impacts the society, the culture, and the economy. As a writer, lobbyist, and policy wonk, Kate Cholewa offers a broad perspective for those both inside and outside the movement and industry.
The buzz beyond the buzz
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:
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.