Montana

Montana: Medical Marijuana Sales Tax Bill Heads To Governor

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A bill imposing a 4 percent tax on medical marijuana sales in Montana passed in the House 68-31 and has moved to Governor Steve Bullock's desk. Sen. Mary Caferro, the bill’s sponsor, said the measure, which was amended from 6 percent, will help the state regulate the program.

“The 4 percent tax was an amendment in the Senate and I supported it, and the reason is because the 4 percent tax is enough to set up the system,” she said in the report. “And that’s common practice, industry pays for their regulation.”

The tax will drop to 2 percent in July 2018 and will help cover new regulations including a seed-to-sale tracking system, site and shop inspections, and lab testing.

“The point of the bill, again, is to make sure that Montana has a regulated system so the feds don’t come shut it down,” Caferro said.

Kari Boiter, co-founder of the Patient Rights Network said the sales tax - which was 6 percent at the time - would create undue burdens for those patients on limited incomes.

“We’re already dealing with exorbitant medical costs and debt that we’re trying to pay,” she said in an Associated Press report. “This is just one more thing that adds to the expenses we’re taking on as sick individuals.”

Bullock is expected to sign the measure which his spokesperson called “fair and modest” last month.

Montana: Judge Rules To Reopen Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Voters ended the Montana Marijuana Act last month, renaming it the Montana Medical Marijuana Act. One change that came with the renaming was a three-patient limit on providers, a change that closed medical dispensaries all over the state, leaving thousands of patients with no provider.

The limit, which took effect in August, was overrruled last week by District Judge James Reynolds.

"The folks that are maybe the most in need are the least able to provide, to grow their own," Reynolds said about his ruling, as reported by the Associated Press. "I think speed is more important than niceties."

The Montana Cannabis Industry Association expected the three-patient limit to be eliminated with the passing of the new initiative, but it was not.

"It punished the patients and the sickest people in the state," Bobby Long, owner of the Flower dispensary in Missoula, told the Missoulian. "It helped the black market and hurts people who were trying to do the right thing."

"The people who work providing marijuana in Montana were — let's face it — they were jerked around quite a bit," lobbyist Kate Cholewa told the AP. "They are somewhat used to it, and very good at coming back."

Texas: Bill Filed To Legalize Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Texas state Senator Jose Menendez filed a bill today that would allow people with chronic and debilitating conditions to use medical marijuana to treat those conditions through a prescription from a doctor.

Senator Menendez says if traditionally conservative states like Montana, North Dakota and Arkansas can pass such a measure, Texas should follow suit.

Illnesses like cancer, PTSD, nausea, Parkinson’s, autism, HIV and severe pain are a few of the ailments that would qualify.

Political science professor Doctor Paul Fabrizio told KIDY the road to approval for this bill is a difficult one. If passed in both the House and the Senate, there’s still one huge obstacle.

“If they were to get it passed, they’re gonna have to convince the governor. The governor has been very outspoken in saying he does not support legalization of medical or recreational marijuana. Therefore, he’s not going to sign a bill,” Fabrizio said.

U.S.: State Leaders Challenging Marijuana Election Results

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Political leaders in several states are acting to challenge election results regarding regulation of marijuana.

"Voters spoke clearly on election day. They believe that cannabis should be legal and that its sale ought to be regulated accordingly," said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri. "Politicians should respect these outcomes, not undermine them."

Massachusetts voters decided 54 percent to 46 percent to legalize the use and cultivation of marijuana for adults 21 and over. Lawmakers are trying to move the date on which adults can begin growing marijuana from December 15, 2016 to an unspecified later time. They also want to delay retail sales of pot until late 2018.

Although Maine voters narrowly approved a similar ballot measure, Republican Gov. Paul LePage has said that he will seek federal guidance before moving forward with the law's implementation. Gov. LePage said that he "will be talking to Donald Trump" about how the incoming administration intends to address the issue, and said that he "will not put this (law) into play" unless the federal government signs off on it.

U.S.: What Does Trump Presidency Mean For The Marijuana Industry?

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Whether or not you were a supporter for a Donald Trump presidency, everyone wonders what his presidency will mean for his or her beliefs. Marijuana users and supporters wonder how his presidency will affect the marijuana industry.

Election Day 2016 marked a big win for marijuana. Residents voted in nine different states on legalizing some form of marijuana. Five of those states were voting on whether or not to allow recreational use. Eight of those nine states passed their legalization measures, with only Arizona's recreational measure not passing.

California was the largest state to legalize it, making recreational use legal for adults. In addition to California, Massachusetts, Maine, and Nevada legalized recreational marijuana use. Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota approved medical initiatives. Montana passed an additional measure to legalize commercial growing and distribution.

The Motley Fool declared marijuana a big winner on Election Day, but pointed out that how the marijuana industry could change under the Donald Trump presidency is open to a lot of interpretation. No-one knows what decisions Trump and Congress will make regarding the marijuana industry between now and January 2020.

California: Recreational Marijuana Now Legal

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Recreational marijuana is now legal in California. Maine, Nevada, and Massachusetts also legalized recreational marijuana, but the size and population of California puts its decision in a different league and it could lead the way to figuring out policy around the drug.

While the recreational marijuana initiative in Arizona failed, several other states voted on medical marijuana. North Dakota, Montana, Arkansas and Florida all approved medical marijuana.

60 percent of Americans support legalizing weed, up from 31 percent in 2000. California is the state with the largest economy and — now that it has legalized cannabis — the national weed industry has tripled in size.

California’s marijuana industry could be bigger than its famed wine businesses. The market for both recreational and medicinal marijuana is now projected to grow to $22 billion by 2020, up from $7 billion this year.

This may also put a lot more pressure on the federal government to lift its ban of the drug. The Drug Enforcement Administration has long classified cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance, the most restrictive classification. This means it’s in the same category as heroin and LSD. Just this August, the DEA rejected an appeal to stop classifying cannabis as Schedule I drug.

Utah: Gubernatorial Candidate Unveils Medical Marijuana Plan

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

In the wake of his wife pleading guilty to a misdemeanor marijuana charge, Utah gubernatorial candidate Mike Weinholtz has rolled out a plan to legalize medical marijuana.

"There have been people suffering long enough, and we know this would help those people, so now is the time," Weinholtz said on Thursday.

His wife has said she uses marijuana to deal with chronic pain. Feds declined to prosecute her case and sent it to the Tooele County Attorney. On Tuesday, she pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor pot possession charge.

“It's bigger than just my wife and my family,” Weinholtz said. “There are thousands of Utahns that are struggling with these many different types of conditions.”

Weinholdts's plan includes: -Legalizing medical marijuana, with reasonable safeguards.

-Funding pain management programs, to cut down on opioid abuse.

-Expanding education and police department supply of Naloxone, used to save drug overdose patients.

"The increase in opioid addiction in the state has been dramatic, has been 400 percent since the year 2000, and medical cannabis would help with the reduction of opioids as well," Weinholtz said.

Montana: Initiative On Ballot To Improve Medical Marijuana Laws

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Most states have relaxed restrictions on marijuana in recent years. Some have legalized it for recreational use; half the states have legalized some form of medical marijuana. But Montana has gone backward.

Although Montana adopted medical marijuana in 2004, a law was passed in 2011 that severely limited the reach of marijuana providers. The Supreme Court affirmed the law in February.

Today, marijuana advertising is banned, marijuana dispensaries cannot have more than three registered users and doctors who prescribe marijuana to more than 25 patients annually will be reviewed by the state. Hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries closed when the restrictions took effect the end of August.

But supporters of medical marijuana are hoping to be back in business come November with Montana I-182, a ballot initiative that would repeal the law that effectively killed the medical marijuana industry. A "yes" vote would repeal the limit of three patients per dispensary, which estimates say cut off at least 12,000 medical marijuana users when it was put into effect — the vast majority of those were using marijuana as medication.

Montana: Judges Reject Appeal Over Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Supreme Court will not hear an appeal challenging a Montana law that limits medical marijuana providers to selling the drug to a maximum of three patients per day.

The justices let stand a Montana Supreme Court ruling on Monday that upheld key provisions of a state law that rolled back much of the 2004 voter-approved initiative legalizing medicinal marijuana.

The Montana Cannabis Industry Association said the rollbacks would force the closure of dispensaries and leave patients without a legal way to obtain the drug.

The new restrictions are set to take effect Aug. 31.

Montana: Medical Marijuana Initiative 182 Surpasses 30,000 Signatures

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A whopping 64 percent majority of Montana voters in 2004 approved Initiative 148, creating a state medical marijuana program, but in 2011 the conservative GOP-controlled Legislature repealed that law in a fit of reefer madness.

Initiative 182, currently gathering signatures and with just two weeks to go, aims to create a new medical marijuana program to assist the 12,000 Montanans who will lose safe access to cannabis on August 31 following the spring ruling by the Montana Supreme Court to uphold the 2011 repeal, reports Dustin Klemann at KPAX.

Organizers on Monday said they've gathered 30,000 signatures, more than enough to qualify for the November ballot.

"We want to take that law they passed in 2011, and the intention behind that law was to create a program that didn't work," said Kate Cholewa, spokesperson for the Montana Cannabis Industry Association, which is funding the effort. "We've been able to just function due to the court case that has enjoined several provisions of the law passed in 2011."

Montana: Man Arrested After Car Crash Spills 35 Pounds Of Pot Onto Interstate

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A 61-year-old man in Missoula, Montana is charged with possession of dangerous drugs with intent to distribute after crashing his vehicle and spilling 35 pounds of marijuana on an Interstate 90 exit near Frenchtown.

Steven Elmer Spanbauer was arrested early Friday and made an initial court appearance. His bail was set at $25,000 by Justice of the Peace Karen Orzech.

According to court records, Spanbauer told investigators he was transporting the marijuana for a dealer and was to be paid $1,400. Court records also say he was transporting some commercial and homemade goods, such as cookies, that contained marijuana.

Officers recovered 70 half-pound packages of marijuana from the vehicle and the site of the rollover crash.

Montana: Initiative To Recriminalize Marijuana Could Be On Fall Ballot

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Safe Montana founder Steve Zabawa praised the Montana Supreme Court's decision to pull back on their medical marijuana program at a public appearance Tuesday. He is actively promoting his own campaign to repeal it altogether.

He said the limit of three patients per provider will help to reduce recreational use.

Montana currently has more than 13,000 registered medical marijuana patients. A limit of three patients per provider would limit the maximum number of patients to about 1,400.

"We estimate with Safe Montana, that's about all the stage 3 and stage 4 cancer patients that are out there, (and those) that have epilepsy or any of the type of things medical marijuana might be working on," he said. "So we believe that there's enough medicine out there to take care of the people."

Safe Montana's ballot initiative, I-176, would repeal the state's medical marijuana program and reinforce the drug's federal status as illegal.

A competing ballot, Cycling for Sensible Drug Policy (I-178) seeks to legalize recreational marijuana.A third ballot, as yet unapproved, wiil seek to expand the medical marijuana program.

Zabawa said on Tuesday that he supports cannabis-derivative medicine that's approved through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but the current system has been misused.

“We know that there’s nothing good about federally illegal schedule 1 drugs,” he said.

Montana: Medical Marijuana Patients Ask Court To Delay Harsh Restrictions

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana patients and their supporters are pushing back against harsh new restrictions on Montana's program -- restrictions so Byzantine, that many providers are closing down rather than try to meet them.

The owners of Montana Advanced Caregivers on Thursday held a barbecue at their location in south Billings. Patients were stocking up on medicinal cannabis because of an uncertain future, co-owner Jason Smith said, reports Matt Hudson at the Billings Gazette.

Smith and his business partner, Rick Abromeit, needed to sell some of their existing stock of marijuana or else risk having an illegal amount once the new law is fully implemented.

The Montana Supreme Court on February 25 upheld provisions of the Montana Medical Marijuana Act, a 2011 bill passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature that, for all practical purposes, shut down the program as it had been run in Montana since voters approved medical marijuana back in 2004.

Montana: Supreme Court Upholds Gutting of Medical Marijuana Law

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Montana Supreme Court on Thursday upheld almost all of the GOP-controlled Legislature's 2011 gutting of the state's medical marijuana law.

The high court, in a 6-1 decision, ruled that the restrictions placed on medical marijuana by the Montana Legislature in 2011 are a "rational response" to the rapid growth in medical marijuana patients from 2008 to 2010, reports Mike Dennison at MTN News. Never mind that the stuff actually works, unlike most harsh, toxic Big Pharma products; that just couldn't be why the program was so popular, now could it?

The number of authorized medical marijuana patients in Montana rose from about 1,000 in 2008 to more than 30,000 in 2010. Dispensaries opened around the state, just as was intended by the people when they, in 2004, voted to approve marijuana as medicine.

One part of the 2011 restrictions that was struck down in Thursday's ruling was the ban on medical marijuana dispensaries charging for their products. But the court left intact a provision that said providers can only have three clients.

The ruling upheld a ban on medicinal cannabis advertising, and also upheld the requirement that any physician authorizing more than 25 medical marijuana patients per year must be reported to the Montana Board of Medical Examiners.

Montana: Judge Blocks Enforcement of Key Parts of Medical Marijuana Law

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Montana judge on Friday permanently banned enforcement of key provisions of the state's restrictive medical marijuana law.

District Judge James Reynolds blocked several provisions, including a ban on advertising medical marijuana and the prohibition of commercial sales for profit to authorized patients, reports Charles S. Johnson at the Billings Gazette.

The prohibition on for-profit marijuana sales, passed by a Republican-controlled Legislature after Montana voters legalized medicinal cannabis, essentially meant that medical marijuana patients in Montana had to grow their own supply.

Judge Reynolds also struck down provisions that restrict medical marijuana providers from helping more than three authorized patients obtain marijuana -- again, remember, without them being able to be paid, under the old rules struck down by the judge on Friday.

The judge also struck down a part of the law that required the state to provide the Board of Medical Examiners with the names of any doctors who, within a one-year period, authorized more than 25 patients for medical marijuana. The law would have required the physician in question to pay for an automatic review of his practices by the Board of Medical Examiners.

U.S.: Senator John Walsh Offers Protections for Medical Marijuana Patient Gun Rights

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Amendment to Senate Appropriations Bill would deny funds to the ATF for enforcing ban on gun rights for medical marijuana patients

Sen. John Walsh (D-Montana) has offered an amendment to Senate appropriations bill S. 2347, which would prevent the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from targeting state-legal medical marijuana patients for possessing firearms.

“Montanans take their Second Amendment rights very seriously and hunting is an important part of our heritage and culture,” said Chris Lindsey, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Whether firearms are used for sport or to help sustain a family by putting food on the table, the federal government should not prevent Montanans from owning firearms simply because a hunter benefits from access to medical marijuana."

In 2011, the ATF issued a letter entitled “Open Letter to All Federal Firearms Licensees” which told licensees that according to Title 18, Section 922 of the United States Code, licensees are not allowed under to sell ammunition or firearms to individuals who use marijuana, even if the person uses it in compliance with state medical marijuana laws.

“We are pleased Sen. Walsh is sending a strong message to the federal government on behalf of Montanans: Stay away from the gun rights of our law-abiding citizens,” said Lindsey. “Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and many prescription drugs, yet the federal government seems to have a persistent case of reefer madness.

Montana: Fate Of Medical Marijuana Hangs In The Balance

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The fate of medical cannabis awaits a decision in Montana, and thousands of patients could be left with no access to their medicine.

As of February 2014, the Montana Marijuana Program Registry confirmed there are 8,168 patients with providers and 2,209 patients with no provider. In June of 2011 there were 30,036 card holders; that number is down by 21,868 since SB 423 -- a measure passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature -- was implemented.

Many previous cardholders are without their medication and/or cards. In addition, the number of providers in 2011 was 4,438 and is down by 4,116. There are currently only 322 providers with patients.

SB 423 was implemented to curb the perceived abuses occurring under I-148. SB 423 as enjoined by the court has addressed this issue and the enjoined provisions are unnecessary at this point to achieve SB 423's purpose, according to the Montana Cannabis Information Association (MTCIA).

If the temporary provisions to SB 423 are not made permanent, then providers would be limited to having only three patients. This would provide only 966 of the current 8,168 patients with access to medical cannabis. In addition the providers would not be able to accept any compensation for their services rendered.

"This would be the death of medical cannabis in Montana," according to a Thursday press release from MTCIA.

Montana: Ban On All Marijuana Proposed For November Ballot

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Mormon car dealer from Billings, Montana, is proposing a ballot measure to completely ban marijuana in the Big Sky State.

Steve Zabawa of the Rimrock Auto Group is behind a proposal which would change Montana state law to say that any drug which the federal Controlled Substances Act classifies as Schedule I "may not be legally possessed, received, transferred, manufactured, cultivated, trafficked, transported, or used in Montana," reports the Associated Press.

Zabawa, active locally in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, claims the proposal aims to eliminate the discrepancy between federal and state law in possessing and using marijuana. But it what it would do is eliminate Montana's medical marijuana law, which was approved by an overwhelming 62 percent of voters statewide back in 2004. (The law has since been gutted, and all but repealed, by reactionary conservative Republican lawmakers who hold a majority in the Legislature.)

About 8,300 medical marijuana patients are still registered in Montana, even under the strict new rules. But Zabawa, whose dealerships include Subaru, Mercedes Benz, Cadillac, and Volkswagen franchises, says if federal law says marijuana is an illegal drug, it should be illegal in Montana.

U.S.: Pacific Northwest Native American Tribes Oppose Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

I guess no group is immune to ignorance. A group representing 57 Native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest on Wednesday morning announced it opposes the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes.

The Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians are hurting my heart, announcing they have passed a resolution calling for the group to work closely with the dim-witted Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) anti-cannabis group spearheaded by former U.S. Congressman Patrick Kennedy and former federal drug policy advisor Kevin Sabet.

The Native American organization and SAM on Wednesday morning jointly released a statement that the tribes "stand strongly in opposition" to legalized marijuana in the Pacific Northwest, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. The group represents tribal governments in Oregon, Idaho, Washington, southeast Alaska, northern California and western Montana.

The Indian tribes "stand with SAM in support of their principles," said Simon Lee Sampson of Yakama Nation.

According to a statement from the Native American group, it supports "drug prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery efforts that focus on reducing marijuana use, especially among youth."

"We cannot deny that marijuana legalization will have a devastating impact on our communities and we want none of it," said a deeply clueless Sampson.

Montana: Mike Hyde (Cashy's Dad) Running For Mayor Of Missoula

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Michael Hyde, the father of child medical marijuana patient Cashy Hyde, who died of brain cancer last year, has filed to run for mayor of Missoula, Montana.

Hyde, 29, filed on Thursday, the last day to file for city races in Missoula. He has continued working as a medicinal cannabis activist through fundraising efforts with the Cash Hyde Foundation since the death of his son.

Hyde is taking on a popular incumbent, Mayor John Engren, who ran unopposed in 2009 and is now seeking a third time in office.

"Yeah, I'm the underdog," Hyde said. "But I love the story of the underdog."

Hyde last November objected to the way law enforcement responded to the death of his terminally ill four-year-old son Cash, reports Keila Szpaller of The Missoulian. The father's call to a social worker triggered the arrival of law enforcement; Hyde asked the officers to leave while the family mourned, but the police stayed to "follow protocol."

Five uniformed law enforcement officers "shut down my whole house and treated it like a murder scene, and I asked them kindly to leave several times and come back in the morning," Hyde said last November. "And they told us no."

The family had chosen a course of treatment for Cash's brain cancer that involved regimens of Rick Simpson Oil, a highly concentrated form of hash oil used by many cancer patients to battle tumors.

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