Montana Medical Marijuana Law Changes
Montana voters have spoken, and the recent medical marijuana initiative I-182 has passed. The state has actually had medical marijuana laws in place since 2004. However, the medical marijuana laws in Montana changed for the worst in 2011. The Montana Legislature passed Senate Bill 423, amending the law and hurting any dispensaries chance at commercial success. Furthermore, the amendment made it so dispensaries could have three patients max and banned any medical marijuana advertising. I-182 repeals the three patient limit as well as law enforcement’s right to conduct unannounced inspections of medical marijuana facilities.
Advocates of marijuana in MT have been fighting to repeal SB 423 since 2011. In fact, they failed to repeal the law in 2012, but their persistence lead them to victory in 2016. The Montana Cannabis Industry Association believed that limiting the number of patients to 2-3 would force dispensaries to close leaving patients with no way to legally obtain their medicine. Now, Montana patients can sleep easy knowing their medicine will still be available in the morning.
Who Qualifies For Medical Marijuana In Montana Now?
Montana already had a pretty extensive list of qualifying conditions, but it just got even bigger. Before the law change the list of qualifying conditions included:
- Cachexia or wasting syndrome
- Severe chronic pain that is a persistent pain of severe intensity that significantly interferes with daily activities as documented by the patient’s treating physician and objective proof or confirmation from another doctor.
- Intractable nausea or vomiting
- Epilepsy or an intractable seizure disorder
- Multiple sclerosis
- Crohn’s disease
- Painful peripheral neuropathy
- Central Nervous System disorders resulting in chronic, painful spasticity or muscle spasms
- Admittance into hospice care in accordance with rules adopted by the department or any other medical condition or treatment for a medical condition approved by the legislature.
Now doctors in MT will be able to recommend marijuana to patients suffering from PTSD. Additionally, you will no longer need two doctors to vouch for your chronic pain. This is good news because the average wait time to see a doctor is 23 minutes and doctors spend about 15 minutes with each patient. That’s nearly 40 minutes. You could smoke 4 joints in the time it takes to visit a second doctor!
Future Of Medical Marijuana In Montana
The lift of the three patient limit on dispensaries will likely encourage many more facilities to open. The are less than 20 dispensaries in Montana and over 12,000 registered patients. All the patients that were left without a reliable source for their medicine should see relief soon. Montana patients were already shielded from prosecution but now facilities are protected from random searches.
It’s worth noting that employers in MT are not required to accommodate medical marijuana users. Employees can be fired for using medical marijuana. In fact, many residents have attempted to challenge these firings in court but Montana courts have continued to rule in favor of the employer. On the bright side, I-182 should give MT medical marijuana patients access to their medicine with minimal hassle.