The Montana marijuana conflict is approaching critical mass. Research has shown that the slew of new regulations on the Montana marijuana industry has turned it into an ineffectual shell of its former self. And, to make matters worse, a recent conference had officials suggesting the state restrict legal medical marijuana sales even further.
In July, legislation aimed at Montana marijuana created unreasonably strict guidelines for cardholders, caregivers and providers alike. The law went into effect in August, causing a booming young industry to suddenly choke.
Former cardholders are quickly being stripped of their once-legal Montana marijuana cards, as they reach expiration dates without hope of renewal. Their count has already dropped 15% in the month of august alone, from around 31,000 patients to less than 27,000. Numbers will continue that following that trend, as the year-long Montana marijuana cards previously issued under the more reasonable rules â€“ that were enacted Â in 2004 â€“ expire.
Over 4000 caregivers have lost their legal status thanks to the heavy-handed legislation, further exacerbating the bleak situation for remaining cardholders. As legal avenues dry up or get closed off, patients are forced to turn to the Montana marijuana black market to acquire their cannabis, completely defeating the purpose of legal medical use.
Nobody can ever seem to take credit or explain their stance cogently, in classic politician form. States blame federal law for problems, while federal offices had promised to back down on raids in decriminalized or medical states. Constituents are frustrated with the run-around, and grow weary of their legally-chosen Montana marijuana laws twisting and mutating into shapes barely resembling the original concept.
In hopes of balancing the federal and local interests, Montana marijuana activists and lawmakers held a conference last Monday, Sept 19th. Attendees held opinions ranging all over the political spectrum, but a consensus could be had on one topic: the current policies are a failure.
Former US Attorney Bill Mercer was the effective headline speaker, and offered his weighty opinion. Mercer believes Montana marijuana laws must take a route of stringent, restrictive regulations, rather than deregulate and tax.Â “I think you’ve really got to tighten up those categories,” he suggested. Mercer believes “people looked at the federal government and thought they were backing away from their role.” Perhaps as a federal attorney his sample is a bit biased, as research indicates the majority of Americans do not support federal involvement in the drug war.
Regardless of the potential political acceptance, the strategy is completely counterintuitive and counterproductive to the cause. Medical marijuana is supposed to serve as a medium for people to legally obtain what amounts to a side-effect free medication for a modicum of ailment. In this case, restricting it to a tiny fraction of who actually requires it or could benefit from the use, completely misses the point of having a Montana marijuana medication program.
Resorting yet again to prohibition will do nothing to curb use, and will be a return to the norm of unjustified arrest and punishment Americans are used to. Politics lately has been meddling too much with voter-approved policy, dismantling or sabotaging projects in their infancy. Officials need to consider the physical implications of what they’re doing to the Montana marijuana community , rather than blindly pandering to partisan affiliations.
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