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5,500 medical marijuana users to lose providers

Published On: Oct 24 2012 10:18:49 PM MDT   Updated On: Oct 26 2012 02:29:41 PM MDT

5,500 medical marijuana card holders in Montana will likely lose their current providers after the Montana Supreme Court denied a request by medical marijuana advocates to revisit its ruling last month that there is no constitutional right to access the drug.

The Associated Press reports the decision lifted a lower court judge's block of portions of a 2011 law that prohibited marijuana providers from receiving compensation or anything of value for their services and limited them to three registered users each.

The Montana Cannabis Industry Association filed a petition for rehearing, which the state's high court denied Tuesday.

Officials with the Montana Department of Health and Human Services said the department plans to send letters to 5,500 medical marijuana users notifying them that their providers will no longer be able to provide them with medical cannabis under the re-instated portions of the 2011 law.

Association president Chris Lindsey says the group will seek another injunction to again block portions of that law, but he said the time it takes for a judge to rule on the injunction could deal a heavy blow to the medical marijuana industry.

"We understand that the judge is going to rule on it by the end of the day on Friday," said Lindsey. "Of course, in the meantime, we've got hundreds of providers around the state cutting their plants down. Effectively, they are out of business."

Voters also are being asked in the Nov. 6 election to either uphold the 2011 changes or to return to the original medical marijuana law approved by initiative in 2004.