Medical marijuana advocates won a victory in court today. A Helena judge gave dispensaries the OK to start serving more than three patients immediately, in recognition of a ballot initiative that passed November 8.
A previous court ruling in August effectively shut down Montana’s medical marijuana dispensaries, by saying they could only serve a maximum of three patients each.
When Montanans passed medical marijuana reform on election day, a typo in the ballot initiative delayed providers from expanding the number of patents they could carry until the end of next June.
Soon after I-182 passed, the Montana Cannabis Industry Association asked a judge to remove the 3 patient limit immediately, which was the initiative’s original intent.
The industry’s spokesperson Kate Cholewa says Wednesday’s ruling will allow dispensaries across the state to reopen:
"The immediate effects are restoring access. Allowing physicians to do their jobs. Allowing patients to get their referrals and get back on the program."
Other aspects of the medical marijuana reforms will go into effect in the end of June of next year. Cholewa says that will give Montana’s Department of Health and Human Services time to develop a plan for implementing other sections of the new medical marijuana program.
Until then, Cholewa says the department will likely be flooded with paperwork of patients trying to regain access.
Correction: 12/07/16 - 6:10 p.m. The headline was updated to clarify that only parts of the new medical marijuana initiative will take effect immediately.