The roller coaster ride continues for medical marijuana professionals in Montana, with a judge once again preventing the state from implementing tough new MMJ regulations.
District Court Judge James P. Reynolds said he feared that the new rules would cause “immediate and irreparable harm” to dispensaries and patients that hold valid medical marijuana cards, a decision that gives the industry some breathing room.
It’s the latest in a series of ups and downs for Montana’s medical cannabis industry, which is fighting for its very survival. The ruling came just days after the state Supreme Court declined to revisit its recent decision supporting the new restrictions.
The high court essentially told Reynolds to review his initial ruling that prevented the state from implementing some of the regulations. In light of that development, Reynolds said he needs more time to fully evaluate the issue again, so he blocked the new regulations until he makes a final decision.
As a result of the ruling, the state will not send out letters as planned advising thousands of patients to find new caregivers, according to the Montana Cannabis Industry Association.
“If the law were in full effect, very few providers could continue to operate, and the vast majority of the approximately 8,300 patients currently in the state program would be denied access to medical marijuana,” the association wrote in a release. “The state is prevented from enforcing these provisions until a hearing can be held in November.”
The hearing is set for Nov. 13. But Montana’s medical marijuana industry might have a much better idea of where it stands before then. On Nov. 6, residents will vote on whether to keep or reject the new restrictions. If voters shoot down the restrictions, this whole issue could be moot anyway, as the state would have to revert back to the initial MMJ rules (which would benefit the industry). If voters support the new regulations, Reynold’s decision will play a major role in determining the industry’s future in Montana.