Montana may become 1st State to lose Medical Marijuana

Posted by Sagar Satapathy on August 16, 2015.

While 23 states in the U.S. have legalized medical marijuana and 4 others and District of Columbia have allowed recreational marijuana, Montana is going backwards and may lose medical pot soon, it is believed. The medical marijuana industry in Montana has been a decline. The slump began in 2011 following some key legislation and the situation is going from bad to worse.

The medical marijuana business in Montana boomed after it was legalized in 2004. At one stage, the state had 30,000 patients and 4,900 marijuana providers. It was a huge for a state with just a million people. However, when pot shops were set up near schools, churches and other key installations, anti-marijuana activists started opposing it and got the backing of common people too.

The major problem began in March 2011, when the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration conducted raids across the state after an 18-month investigation into the allegations of links between medical marijuana and drug trafficking. In addition, there were charges of other federal crimes too. Many shops were closed during the crackdown and their owners/operators were charged under federal drug laws.

A massive campaign to repeal medical marijuana began in April 2011, which still continues and received a big momentum. Then Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, a Democratic, vetoed a repeal bill in April 2011. In May 2011, a bill known as "repeal in disguise" was signed. Although it was weakened by a state judge, it put a brake on the growth of medical marijuana industry in Montana. The legislation barred the providers from charging a cent beyond recouping license application fee.

As a result, the number of patients declined from 30,000 to less than 9,000 in June 2012 and the number of providers went down to less than 400. It was a massive fall. And, the medical marijuana industry in Montana never recovered from that shock. The state Supreme Court asked the judge to reconsider his ruling, but he made it permanent in January 2015. As the law is the subject of a Supreme Court decision in October 2015, it may seal the fate of Montana's medical marijuana industry forever. If we believe the indications, the SC decision may not give any reprieve to the industry.

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