Fate of Medical Pot in Billings, Mont., Still in Limbo After City Council Delays Vote

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The largest city in Montana will wait another two weeks to decide whether to ban medical marijuana dispensaries, as officials want to get more input from citizens on the issue.

Billings City Council was set to vote earlier this week on a measure that would make it illegal to sell medical pot from storefronts. But it decided to delay the vote at the last minute after one councilman brought up the fact that the city failed to notify the public about a hearing on the issue, according to The Billings Gazette. The council will now hold a final vote on Oct. 24.

It’s interesting that City Council members didn’t recognize the importance of public input on this particular measure earlier. While medical marijuana is controversial in every city, it’s a particularly heated issue in Billings: Last summer, vandals firebombed two dispensaries and wrote “Not in Out Town” in spray paint on the windows and front doors of the businesses.

Even if the council votes against the measure to ban dispensaries, members could decide to extend a one-year moratorium on new MMJ businesses that expired earlier this month.

Cities across Montana are grappling with similar issues given the vagueness of the state’s medical pot law. Voters passed a measure in 2004 allowing patients to use marijuana, but the law doesn’t address how the drug is supposed to be distributed. Individual cities have been trying to figure it out on their own, with some letting dispensaries set up shop in town and others banning MMCs altogether.