Bozeman, Mont. – Medical marijuana patients are looking for answers as many providers shut their doors Wednesday evening. The move came as a court decision to limit distribution of medical marijuana went into effect. It is estimated that more than 10,000 patients are left without providers.
Medical marijuana dispensaries worked through the afternoon to get rid of their inventory by offering discounts to customers on many products.
A court decision said they could no longer have more than three patients. Cardholders who are currently their own providers are not affected. In addition, physicians who refer more than 25 patients to medical marijuana providers will have to meet with the Board of Medical Examiners.
Misty Carey owns KannaKare Health Services and is shutting down her business for now.
“The regulations really do limit our program. It actually decimates our program and brings it down to nothing,” said Carey.
She had a lot of people coming in to stock up on medication on Wednesday but says most people don’t have the cash to buy a large quantity. A lot of her customers are confused about what comes next.
Carey said, “People don’t know what the law is, how they’re going to function within the law or what they’re going to do about their cards.”
Patients will have a 30-day grace period to decide what they want to do. They can fill out forms to become their own provider, switch providers or opt of the program altogether. The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services will provide temporary medical marijuana cards.
The changes will be a financial strain for KannaKare. “I have employees, rent, landlords, responsibilities, and all of a sudden our entire income will stop,” explained Carey.
It’ll be challenging for patients too.
“They have had this access for the last 12 years, and now the rug has been completely yanked out from underneath them,” said Tayln Lang. He is a Marines veteran with digestive problems and post-traumatic stress disorder. He’s also a medical marijuana patient who says the new rules could push people into the black market.
“It’s turning patients and people who are good people but are ill into criminals overnight,” he said.
A ballot measure in the November election will ask voters whether they want to see medical marijuana legalized. Patients will have to wait until then to see if their provider will reopen their doors. Both providers and patients are optimistic voters will approve the ballot issue. Until then, they can grow their own marijuana legally if they own their home or get permission from their landlord.
Montana has more than 13,000 medical marijuana patients. Gallatin County is home to the most with 2,753. Flathead County comes in second with 1,531. Yellowstone County has 1,306 patients.
News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Patients Scramble After Medical Marijuana Dispensary Closures
Author: Judith Retana
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Photo Credit: AP
Website: NBC Montana