Hemp Growers Petition Montana Department of Agriculture To Create Hemp Advisory Committee

Meetings set for Jan. 31 in Sidney, Feb. 7 in Helena

MONTANA: The Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA) has received a verified petition from 25 Montana hemp growers to create the Montana Hemp Advisory Committee. MDA will hold two listening sessions to receive input regarding the proposed checkoff committee. Meetings are scheduled for January 31st in Sidney and February 7th in Helena. Information on the meetings can be found below.

The meetings will give growers the opportunity to learn about upcoming changes to the Montana State Hemp Program due to the 2018 Farm Bill, hear about the process of establishing a commodity advisory committee, and provide input regarding a proposed assessment and method of collection. Producers present at the meetings will vote to determine whether to hold a referendum by paper ballot of all known hemp growers in the state. If that referendum passes, MDA will propose a hemp research and market development program for adoption by administrative rule.

Hemp Listening Sessions

  • January 31st, 2019 – Sidney, MT
    • 10:00 am – MonDak Heritage Center (120 3rd Ave. SE)
  • February 7th, 2019 – Helena, MT
    • 9:00 am –  Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Sanders Auditorium (111 N. Sanders)

MDA currently administers the Montana Potato Advisory Committee and the Montana Alfalfa Seed Committee along with the statutorily enabled Montana Wheat and Barley Committee and Montana Pulse Crop Committee. In total, these programs annually contribute over $8 million in checkoff funds towards research, marketing, and education.

The Montana Department of Agriculture’s mission is to protect producers and consumers, and to enhance and develop agriculture and allied industries.

The Expectations Of The Legal Cannabis Market After Elections

MAINE: In California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine, voters decided that recreational cannabis use is now legal. Now as for Arizona, it was the only state that rejected the proposal. Making it four of the five states, where the proposal of legalization of cannabis for recreational use were approved. Companies in this sector profiting from the growing demand, views this as a highly positive development for the legal cannabis industry, as it may bring billions of dollars to the industry and to the states themselves.

District of Columbia, along with other 8 states now recognizes recreational marijuana use as a legal practice for adults. Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota assed ballot measures legalizing medical marijuana use only.  California is of course the most populated state and the largest market for cannabis. California Lt. Gov. and former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, said the proposition could generate up to $1 billion a year in tax revenue, as well as $100 million in saved taxpayer money on an annual basis.

Eleven Years After Being Approved, Montana’s Medical Marijuana Industry Faces An Existential Threat

MONTANA:  Gone are the flashing green neon lights on street corners advertising $200 ounces of marijuana in Billings and Butte and beyond. Gone are the traveling cannabis caravans of doctors infamous for signing up hundreds of medical marijuana hopefuls in a single day.

The vast majority of the nearly 30,000 patients and 4,900 providers that once flooded this state of just more than 1 million people have been driven out of Montana’s medical marijuana program, which was first legalized in 2004.

These days, those who remain in the state’s medical marijuana system deal in a combination of currency and uncertainty as they await the outcome of a state Supreme Court case that could cripple what’s left of the industry. A decision could come as soon as October, according to James Goetz, a lawyer who represents the medical marijuana industry.

Depending on the court’s ruling, medical marijuana providers could be banned from charging patients a penny, save recouping $50 license fees and renewals. Providers could be limited to three patients each. And the businesses could be blocked from advertising.

Why Montana Is Going Backward On Medical Marijuana

MONTANA: Gone are the flashing green neon lights advertising $200 ounces of pot. Gone are the caravans of cannabis doctors who signed up hundreds of people in a single day.

The medical marijuana business in Montana boomed after voters legalized it in 2004. At one time, this state of only a million people had almost 30,000 patients and 4,900 providers.

But the industry has been crippled by state legislators and a determined grass-roots opposition. And a state Supreme Court decision coming as early as October could all but wipe it out.

State Appeals Ruling To Block Parts Of Medical Marijuana Law

MONTANA:  The state is appealing a judge’s ruling that blocked parts of a stricter medical marijuana law passed by the legislature in 2011.

District Judge James Reynolds has twice blocked provisions that prohibited advertisement and commercial sale of medical marijuana as well as provisions that limited providers to three patients and called for reviewing the practices of doctors who had recommended medical marijuana for 25 or more patients within a 12-month period.

None of those provisions of the 2011 law have taken effect because of injunctions issued by Reynolds.

 

Judge Blocks Medical Marijuana Restrictions In Montana

MONTANA: A state district judge late Friday permanently blocked enforcement of key provisions of Montana’s strict 2011 medical marijuana law in a drawn-out legal case that began shortly after its passage.

District Judge James Reynolds of Helena permanently enjoined the implementation of certain key provisions in the law.

The provisions have never taken effect, either because of his 2011 decision temporarily blocking implementation of the law or the state stipulating it would not enforce the provisions pending a final court decision.

In his latest decision, Reynolds permanently blocked enforcement of provisions that would:

  • Ban the advertising of medical marijuana.
  • Forbid the commercial sale, for profit, of medical marijuana from a provider to someone authorized to obtain the product. The provision essentially meant that medical marijuana cardholders had to grow their own pot and forbade any payment to growers except for covering the cost of a provider’s application or renewal fee paid to the state.
  • Restrict a medical marijuana provider from assisting more than three people licensed by the state to obtain legal pot or marijuana-infused products, again without them being able to be paid.
  • Require the state to provide the Board of Medical Examiners with the names of any physician who within a 12-month period has written certification for medical marijuana for 25 or more patients. That would have triggered an automatic review of the physician’s practices, at his expense, by the Board of Medical Examiners.

Some Montana Medical Marijuana Providers Seek Tougher Regulation

MONTANA:  The medical marijuana industry in Montana came to a halt in 2011 when federal agents raided greenhouses and dispensaries across the state.

Some providers abandoned the business, but since then dispensaries have slowly been coming back – and now – some current providers are calling for better regulation.

“I think 2011 was the big change, it just exploded up until that point I think it cleaned up a lot. There’s no more people driving around with free this free that in the back of their trucks,” said Roger Petersen, who’s been running a dispensary in Columbia Falls since 2010.

“In another medical state you’d probably only see one reservoir per one room and it’d be real easy, you’d mix one big 400 gallon reservoir up, you’d feed everything, you’d harvest things all at once and then you’d be done, whereas we have to harvest one table to, two tables every week,” Petersen added.

 

Proposed Initiative Seeks To Ban All Marijuana In Montana

MONTANA: A Billings car-dealership owner has proposed a ballot measure that would completely ban the use and possession of marijuana in Montana, even for medical uses.

The proposal by Steve Zabawa would change state law to say any Schedule I drug in the federal Controlled Substances Act “may not be legally possessed, received, transferred, manufactured, cultivated, trafficked, transported or used in Montana.”

The proposal submitted to the Montana Secretary of State’s Office on Thursday aims is to eliminate the disparity between federal and state law in possessing and using marijuana, which is a Schedule I drug, Zabawa said in an email.

Montana and several other states allow the regulated use of marijuana for medical purposes, and about 8,300 medical marijuana users are registered in Montana. Two other states, Washington and Colorado, have approved recreational use of the drug, and federal authorities have not interfered.

Montana Marijuana Advocates Push Back Initiative Plans

MONTANA:   Marijuana legalization advocates are dropping their efforts to put a voter initiative on the ballot this year amending the Montana Constitution to allow recreational use of the drug, an organizer said Tuesday.

Instead, the advocates plan to focus on the 2016 elections. That might give the measure a better chance, with a broader segment of the population voting in that presidential election compared with the turnout expected for the 2014 midterms, Marijuana Policy Project spokesman Chris Lindsey said.

The Montana Secretary of State’s Office last year cleared sponsors to gather signatures in their effort to put the proposed constitutional change on this year’s ballot. It would have given adults the right to buy, consume, produce and possess marijuana.

“Very early in the process we realized the timing wasn’t right, we weren’t going to have the resources necessary to make it happen,” Lindsey said. “If donors are going to put in their resources, they want to win.” [Read more…]

Montana Marijuana Advocates Push Back Initiative Plans

MONTANA:   Marijuana legalization advocates are dropping their efforts to put a voter initiative on the ballot this year amending the Montana Constitution to allow recreational use of the drug, an organizer said Tuesday.

Instead, the advocates plan to focus on the 2016 elections. That might give the measure a better chance, with a broader segment of the population voting in that presidential election compared with the turnout expected for the 2014 midterms, Marijuana Policy Project spokesman Chris Lindsey said.

The Montana Secretary of State’s Office last year cleared sponsors to gather signatures in their effort to put the proposed constitutional change on this year’s ballot. It would have given adults the right to buy, consume, produce and possess marijuana.

“Very early in the process we realized the timing wasn’t right, we weren’t going to have the resources necessary to make it happen,” Lindsey said. “If donors are going to put in their resources, they want to win.” [Read more…]