Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Montana Health Department Stops Issuing Medical Marijuana Cards

Roy Kemp, an official with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, says that his agency stopped issuing, renewing and replacing medical marijuana patient identification cards pending the implementation of Montana's recently-passed overhaul of the system on June 1.

"We will not issue any cards until June 1, when the next phase of the law triggers in," Kemp said.

The overhaul, which Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer let become law without his signature, will severely restrict access to medical marijuana in the state. Under the new rules growing facilities will be banned and patients will be required to grow their own medicine or obtain it from a licensed caregiver who won't be allowed to charge for it and can only serve three patients at a time.

The new law also places more restrictive measures on those seeking medical marijuana to treat chronic pain, the number one reason for medical marijuana use in the state.

"That's great news," said Senate Majority Leader Jeff Essmann, R-Billings, who sponsored the new law. "I wish their website indicated it. It still has got that they're continuing to process them until June 20.

"If they are complying with SB423 and suspending issuance of cards and do not intend to resume issuance until June 1, I'm happy with that."

The number of medical marijuana card-holders has increased dramatically in recent years, going from 4,000 patients in 2009 to more than 30,000 today.
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