Yesterday, a June 2011 injunction was lifted by the Montana Supreme Court, meaning that Senate Bill 423 will now go into place. Senate Bill 423 strictly limits Montana’s medical marijuana program, and a number of the changes will cause patients to not be able to access their medicine.
State data shows that almost 5,600 patients will lose their status as registered, legal medical marijuana patients now that SB423 is being put into place.
On Monday, the state Department of Health and Human Services will send letters to patients to terminate their legal status. Most patients are being terminated because they share medical marijuana providers. Under SB423, caregivers are now only allowed to provide medicine to 3 patients.
In order to regain their right, patients will have to find new medical marijuana providers and reapply to the program once they have secured a caregiver. For these 5,600 patients to access their medicine, there need to be almost 1,900 caregivers who will take them on.
For patients who are unable to find a caregiver, they will have to begin growing their own marijuana. This is costly for patients and will leave them without their medicine while they are starting their grows. Additionally, the quality of marijuana grown at home by first time growers could be of considerably lower quality than what patients would get from their caregivers.
Campaign manager for Patients for Reform, Not Repeal Bob Brigham said, “This new action by the state is like a spike in the heart to thousands of suffering patients. Only now is the full, devastating impact of SB423 becoming apparent. It’s hurting the very kinds of patients Montana voters most want to help.”
Fortunately for many patients, the implementation of SB423 may be short lived. Initiative Referendum 124 will appear on the November 6th general election ballot. If it is not approved by voters, the Montana medical marijuana law will be restored to its original form, which went into place in 2004. If IR-124 does not pass, that means that the 5,600 patients who are immediately being impacted by SB423 will not have to find new caregivers and will be able to access their medicine as they have in the past.