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After August 31, Montana Dispensaries
Can Sell Medical Pot to Only Three Patients
 
This week, the US Supreme Court declined to hear a suit filed by Montana’s medical marijuana industry. The industry had sought to invalidate a Montana Supreme Court decision upholding a state law that allows dispensaries to sell marijuana to only three patients.
 
“The Legislature determined that placing a limit on the number of registered cardholders a provider may assist serves the objectives of keeping marijuana away from large-scale manufacturing operations, making it less appealing to major traffickers,” wrote the state court, according to The Denver Post’s website, The Cannabist.
 
The state law also bans marijuana advertising and calls for an automatic review of doctors who recommend the drug to more than 25 patients. The state court upheld both provisions.

Montana legalized marijuana for medical use in 2004. But an industry exploded in 2009 when the US Justice Department issued the Cole Memo, making enforcement of federal law in legalization states a low priority unless any of eight provisions were violated.
 
By 2011, 30,000 patients were registered in a state with a population of just 1 million people, and nearly 5,000 dispensaries were operating.
 
The state legislature acted to restrict such activity. Some parts of its law are already in effect and have produced “a drop in the numbers and a significant decline in the number of people under 30 who claimed chronic pain as a qualifying condition,” according to The Cannabist.

Today, Montana has some 13,500 registered patients and fewer than 500 dispensaries. 
 
Not to be deterred, the Montana Cannabis Industry Association is collecting signatures for a ballot initiative that, if passed, would overturn the Montana State Supreme Court decision.
 
Read more here and here and here.
 
Group Files Petitions to
Ban Pueblo Recreational Marijuana Sales
 
Amendment 64, the ballot initiative that legalized marijuana for recreational use in Colorado in 2012, contains an opt-out provision that enables local towns, cities, and counties to ban legal pot within their borders. Officials in Pueblo City and Pueblo County, seeing an economic opportunity, welcomed the marijuana industry into both jurisdictions.
 
The industry has so overwhelmed both communities, however, that residents have mounted a campaign to kick marijuana out. Citizens for a Healthy Pueblo turned in nearly double the number of signatures required--five percent of registered voters—to get the initiatives on both city and county November ballots.
 
Growing Pueblo’s Future, a marijuana industry group, has gone to court to stop the initiatives from reaching the ballots. “The state Legislature recently passed new legislation requiring 15 percent of all registered voters as a signature requirement for this type of issue. Voters were promised to regulate marijuana like alcohol and this 15 percent threshold is the same percentage needed to initiate a prohibition on alcohol sales,” said a spokesman for the industry group, The Pueblo Chieftain reports.
 
The newspaper adds that the chair of the anti-pot group says “the petition campaign has been a true effort by citizens in Pueblo County. We had over 100 people carrying petitions and they just worked very hard in spite of wind, rain, protesters, and getting thrown out of places because of protesters.”
 
City and county clerks have 30 days to validate the signatures. But if the court finds for the industry, Citizens for a Healthy Pueblo may not be able to collect enough signatures in time to get the measure on the ballot.
 
Read more here and here.
 
Marijuana Liberalization Policies:
Science Doesn’t Have Your Answers Yet
  
Researcher Julie K. Johnson of Boston Children’s Hospital Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research writes that with current state marijuana policies, “We’re quite literally comparing apples to THC-infused gummy-bears.”
 
“We need at least 10 more years of political digestion and research to understand the implications of the policies” that states are adopting she writes in The Huffington Post.
 
She continues, “I believe any state interested in enacting similar policies should start conservatively, so policy can be tightly regulated and enforced to limit many of the loopholes we’ve already seen and prevent large manufacturers from monopolizing the market.
 
“These processes should inhibit price decreases and prevent commercialization, which could increase youth access and heavy or problematic use for all ages. We need to allow the public health and safety sectors adequate time to adapt. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified of ‘Big Tobacco’s’ sequel: The Marijuana Files.”
 
Read her full column here.
 
Marijuana Provision
Stripped from Veterans Affairs Funding Bill
 
Some Congressional lawmakers are worried about making medical marijuana decisions that lack scientific evidence.
 
Both the US House and Senate passed a military appropriations bill that included a provision allowing VA doctors to recommend marijuana to veterans in states where it is legal.
 
Differences in the two bills were resolved in a conference committee for a final vote by both chambers.
 
The House passed the compromise bill but the Senate has not yet done so. Several components went missing from the bill during conference, however, including the medical marijuana provision for veterans. (The provision may be put back in by the Senate, which is to vote on the final bill following the July 4th recess.)
 
The omission may be a good thing for veterans. A Yale study last year warns against giving marijuana to vets suffering from PTSD because the drug was associated with worsening PTSD symptoms and nullifying the benefits of standard PTSD treatment.
 
Read more here.

The Marijuana Report is a weekly e-newsletter published by National Families in Action in partnership with SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana). Subscribe to The Marijuana Report and visit our website, The Marijuana Report.Org, to learn more about the marijuana story unfolding across the nation.

About National Families in Action (NFIA)
NFIA consists of families, scientists, business leaders, physicians, addiction specialists, policymakers, and others committed to protecting children from addictive drugs. Our vision is:
  • Healthy, drug-free kids
  • Nurturing, addiction-free families
  • Scientifically accurate information and education
  • A nation free of Big Marijuana
  • Smart, safe, FDA-approved medicines developed from the cannabis plant (and other plants) 
  • Expanded access to medicines in FDA clinical trials for children with epilepsy

About SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) 

SAM is a nonpartisan alliance of lawmakers, scientists and other concerned citizens who want to move beyond simplistic discussions of "incarceration versus legalization" when discussing marijuana use and instead focus on practical changes in marijuana policy that neither demonizes users nor legalizes the drug. SAM supports a treatment, health-first marijuana policy. 

SAM has four main goals: 
  • To inform public policy with the science of today's marijuana.
  • To reduce the unintended consequences of current marijuana policies, such as lifelong stigma due to arrest.
  • To prevent the establishment of "Big Marijuana" - and a 21st-Century tobacco industry that would market marijuana to children.
  • To promote research of marijuana's medical properties and produce, non-smoked, non-psychoactive pharmacy-attainable medications.
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