|Montana caregivers are supposed to turn over their plants to the cops by July 1.
Montana’s medical marijuana caregivers officially have less than two weeks to turn in their cannabis plants to the police to be destroyed, but one advocate says that’s not likely to happen.
On July 1, medical marijuana providers are out of business in the state, thanks to the new law, SB 423, passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature, reports Matt Leach at NBC Montana
. The law supposed “takes the profit out of the industry” (actually, it only drives it underground — and removes the tax benefits to local governments) and forces caregivers to turn over any marijuana they might have on hand.
It’s not gonna go down like that, according to Tayln Lang of the Montana Medical Growers Association.
|Photo: NBC Montana
Tayln Lang, Montana Medical Growers Association:
“This is a law that is basically based on fear and intimidation”
“I believe that all that cannabis that’s been produced by caregivers up until this point is going to make its way to the black market,” Lang said.
Under the old medical marijuana law, approved in 2000 by an overwhelming 63 percent of Montana voters, caregivers could help as many patients as they wanted. Now they are limited to providing for only three patients, and they’re not allowed to make a profit.
The new law also places strict new conditions for qualifying for medical cannabis, and strict rules on the doctors who certify medicinal marijuana patients, reports Matt Volz of the Associated Press
Medical marijuana advocates are fighting back through the legal system. Montana Cannabis Industry Association attorney James Goetz asked Helena District Judge James Reynolds to approve a preliminary injunction that would keep the law from taking effect on July 1.
Some patients and their families content the new law will just force them to make illegal purchases by shutting down legitimate means of supply.
“The more I read about it the more absurd it is,” said 79-year-old Charlie Hamp. “They’re just trying to eliminate marijuana in Montana.”
Hamp testified that his wife Shirley, 78, stirs a medical marijuana tincture into her morning coffee at home in Bozeman to alleviate the pain after her esophagus was removed and replaced with the lining of her stomach.
He isn’t sure if his wife will still be able to get that tincture from her provider after July 1, or even whether the provider will be in business at all. Neither one of them knows how to make the tincture, nor do they want to ask their daughter and son-in-law to do it for them.
“This is a law that is basically based on fear and intimidation, and we don’t think that is fair to either patients or caregivers,” Lang said.
The new law specifies that caregivers will have to give up all their marijuana so that law enforcement can destroy it (probably one joint at the time). No caregivers have yet turned in their crops, as far he knows, Lang said.
“If you say, for example, that there are 30,000 patients in the state, and for each one of those 30,000 patients, six plants can be grown, that is a significant amount of cannabis,” Lang said.
But that cannabis won’t go to the cops, according to Lang, but instead will likely hit the black market.
That’s exactly where Lang expects patients who have been legally using marijuana to turn if they can’t qualify under the new, stricter patient guidelines.
“Of course that is the only place that patients are going to be able to get their cannabis from, so it makes sense that caregivers, folks that have been growing and producing it up into this point, are just going to leak that medicine into the black market,” Lang said.