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Montana to Keep Issuing Medical Marijuana Cards After Overhaul Becomes Law

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HELENA, Mont. – State health officials said Friday that they still plan to issue medical marijuana cards even though the state's restrictive overhaul bill repeals its authority to do so, a move that lawmakers say would be against the law.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer has said that he would not act on the bill despite his reservations about some of its provisions, which means the measure would become law and go into effect Saturday. It would immediately repeal the Department of Public Health and Human Services' authority to register patients under the original marijuana law.

Department spokesman Jon Ebelt said the law was unclear about its authority over marijuana registration cards that have already been submitted using applications under the old, less restrictive rules. He said his agency planned to issue cards from those forms until June 20, after which a new form must be used for the new overhaul regulations.

"At this time, we will continue processing new and renewal applications in order to error on the side of patients," Ebelt said in a statement.

The lawmakers who crafted the measure say the health department's plans are part of a political move by an administration that wanted more permissive pot laws.

Sen. Jeff Essmann, R-Billings, who sponsored the overhaul bill, said the department would be breaking the law, which clearly repeals the agency's authority to issue those cards starting Saturday.

"There is nothing ambiguous about the transition schedule and the effective date provisions," he said.

Schweitzer said Friday that he wasn't surprised "one of the worst-crafted bills in this Legislature is causing confusion."

The governor said the bill was poorly written and included conflicting dates. State health officials have a 60-day backlog of applications they must get through and will try to make the best of a bad bill, he said.

The overhaul bill rewrites the state's 2004 voter-approved marijuana law to strictly limit who can use and distribute medical marijuana. It aims to rein in abuses and comply with federal authorities who have cautioned against pot businesses and raided marijuana operations around the state.

The bill places additional restrictions on acceptable medical conditions for users and creates standards for doctors who recommend new patients. It also eliminates medical marijuana businesses by banning them from making a profit and restricting the number of patients to whom they can provide pot.

Under its provisions, the health department would be allowed to register patients under new regulations on June 1. The full force of the stringent overhaul will go into effect July 1, requiring pot shops, growers and manufacturers to close their doors.


News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: greenfieldreporter.com
Author: Stephen Dockery
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: Daily Reporter
Website: Montana to keep issuing medical marijuana cards after overhaul becomes law
 
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