Montana has More Than Mountains to Climb

By Richard Farrell 06/04/2014

Montana may brand itself ‘The Last Best Place’ but it is decidedly myopic when it comes to regulating weed. On the one hand, it does have a system of weed dispensaries in place – and Missoula Country did agree that adult cannabis deserved the lowest priority in law enforcement. On the other hand, the federal government has been hammering independent farmers, almost as if the government wants all the action all for itself.

The Montana Medical Marijuana Program is a shining example of bureaucracy feeding off a need.

  • It costs a person who may be in terrible agony $75 to apply, there is a complex prescribed form, electronic applications are not allowed and there is no refund ‘if the application is incomplete, denied or the card is revoked’. In other words it is a case of ‘my way not thine’ and heaven help the illiterate.


  • The checklist is extensive. Beyond the normal stuff - including a physician’s statement - they even want the property owner’s written permission if you want to grow your own. If this is not against the principles behind America’s Founding Statements, then I don’t know what is.


  • The application by a marijuana dispensary is similarly draconian. Every application to supply weed must link to a card-holding patient, and there is a $50 fee every time. If the applicant is guilty of possession previously, then their application is automatically declined. They may not even use the stuff themselves, outside of the system.

Abusive controls like these invariably give rise to attempts to bypass the system. In a hard-hitting report in May 2013, Business Insider headlined a riveting article with the chilling words, “American society's tolerance for marijuana is now growing, then what happened in Montana illustrates just what can happen when the government decides things have gone too far”.

The state government’s litany of alleged infringements include a claim that advocates of medical marijuana had been helping applicants obtain their cards (why ever not?), and that ‘some doctors … conducted cursory examination and paid fines’ (perhaps the applicant was a regular patient?). Proof that a weed review was unnecessary to demonstrate the benefits of weed strains, lies in the fact that thousands of medical marijuana suppliers were earning honest incomes supplying legal cannabis to those whom doctors had verified were in genuine need.

Who knows what caused the federal law enforcement backlash against a cottage industry dedicated to providing alternatives to harsh chemical medication, and invasive surgery. In 2011, the Montana government back-fitted harsher regulations that drove thousands of pot providers out of business (although ironically enough a scant thirty-three of these were actually convicted under federal law.

Their defense, quite justifiably was that they were complying with Montana legislation to the letter. This carried no weight whatsoever against the federal Controlled Substances Act however. Some say that granting licenses by the state was an accessory to their alleged federal crime. The implications for constitutional freedom among members of the union may well prove far reaching over time.


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