In the final days of the 2011 Montana legislature, Governor Brian Schweitzer allowed a bill drastically changing Montana’s medical marijuana to become law. Senate Bill 423 allows caregivers only three patients and eliminates cash transactions, essentially annulling what has become a multi-million dollar industry.
Schweitzer told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle he was critical of the new statute, but said he couldn’t allow the current law to remain, under which people are “using Montana law to smoke marijuana just to smoke it,” he stated.
The Governor had tried unsuccessfully to amend the Republican sponsored bill to allow caregivers to have up to 25 patients and to sell the drug. Schweitzer believes the new law is flawed in that it will de-centralize marijuana and make it hard to monitor where the drug is going, but agreed to let it pass for lack of a better option.
By July 1, Montana’s medical marijuana businesses will be out of business.
This reform follows March’s federal raids on more than 20 medical pot providers across Montana. Republican lawmakers said they worked with law enforcement to design the new law around their needs. Medical marijuana backers say thousands of people will lose jobs.