The District Court in Helena, Montana will hear arguments today as the case from Montana Cannabis Industry Association and others launches the quest to obtain a preliminary injunction to stop the implementation of the state’s new medical marijuana law. The case began this morning before the state District Court Judge, James Reynolds. The new law that was passed by this year’s legislature would over-write the current law that regulates medical marijuana in the state. It became a law without the signature of Governor Brian Schweitzer, and will effectively repeal the voter passed initiative that allows medical marijuana that was passed in 2004.
The new law is intended to restrict the number of people that qualify to use medical marijuana. It bans large growing operations and bars any profits from producing marijuana on a small scale. Providers can now grow for three people, including themselves. Beginning July 1st, the day the new regulations go into effect, there will be stiffer requirements for people who use medical marijuana to treat severe or chronic pain. Lawmakers had argued that the pain category of qualifications was a major loophole for many to get a medical marijuana card under false pretenses.
The complaint against the new law was filed last month and is seeking the injunction to hold off on the new regulations until the state hears directly from the voters in the next election cycle. They are charging the legislation for passing the new law which they say violates the plaintiff’s constitutional rights to equal protection, privacy, dignity, freedom of speech and due process. Assistant Attorney General, Jim Molloy, is defending the new law in court and says that it is not unconstitutional and that it is more in line with what the voters intended when they voted on authorized medical marijuana use in 2004 than the current system. The new law will also put more pressure on doctors who certify medical marijuana patients, especially when recommended for pain. The case is expected to last two days.