Last week in a 5-0 decision, the Montana Supreme Court justices upheld a lower court ruling which forbids caregivers from selling marijuana or their growing services to other caregivers, contractors, and their agents.
The ruling was in favor of the Flathead County Attorney’s Office in a case filed by the Medical Marijuana Growers Association and two couriers, as well as three caregivers. The couriers had been charged in criminal cases with possession and intent to distribute marijuana, and for delivering marijuana on behalf of caregivers.
They then asked a judge to declare that Montana’s Medical Marijuana Act allows caregivers to deliver and transfer marijuana and cultivation paraphernalia to other caregivers via an agent.
Under Montana state law, caregivers, referred to technically as providers, must be registered with the state. They can sell marijuana directly to patients who hold medical marijuana cards.
The court disagreed with the caregivers’ request, however, stating that the language of the 2009 medical marijuana law made it clear that it is illegal for caregivers to conduct transactions with other caregivers.
According to Justice Patricia Cotter, “The 2009 MMA does not provide for the transfer of marijuana or paraphernalia from caregiver to caregiver or among their agents, nor is there a provision allowing for a caregiver to cultivate marijuana for other caregivers or for their agents or contractors.”
She added, “We will not read or insert these provisions into the statute. We find that the specific provisions that a caregiver may provide marijuana only to qualifying patients specifically prohibits the privileges and declarations that the plaintiffs seek.”
Montana’s medical marijuana law was revised in 2011 to provide clarifications, but this ruling eliminates another gray area in the law.
This November, a measure will be on the general election ballot that would revert Montana’s medical marijuana law back to its original version from 2009.