Attorney James Goetz, working on behalf of the Montana Cannabis Industry Association argued last Monday that a new state law that implements strict verifications of patient conditions and eliminates all sales of medical marijuana is unconstitutional and should be blocked.

The law, which was passed by the Montana legislature earlier this year, put commercial pot growers in Montanan essentially out of business by making it illegal for them to profit from their grow operations, and holding them to a maximum of three patients. The law also puts into place an additional series of verifications of the conditions for qualifying for authorization to use or prescribe the drug.

Goetz asked Helena, MT District Judge James Reynolds to approve a preliminary injunction in order to prevent the law from going into force on July 1. Among the issues Goetz brought up were that the law effectively denies patients access to their medication, and infringes upon the doctor-patient relationship, as well as allowing searches of both patients and providers without the need for a warrant.

“Marijuana, while not completely harmless, is remarkably safe,” Goetz said. “It has proven medicinal qualities. If a Montana citizen, in consultation with his or her doctor, wishes to have access to medical marijuana, that person should have access without undue governmental restraint.”

Defending Montana’s new law was Assistant Attorney General Jim Molloy who said it was in line with what voters’ intentions had been back in 2004 when the state’s medical marijuana initiative was initially passed. Seriously ill patients, he pointed out, will be allowed to grow their own cannabis or designate someone specific to grow it for them. “This is a lawsuit, your honor, about preserving the commercial marijuana industry that sprung up in Montana beginning in about 2008,” he said.

The hearing is expected to last through next Tuesday, and it is not clear whether or not there will be an immediate ruling from Reynolds. The judge said he wants to find out what would happen to all the other medical marijuana strictures in Montana if this new law is blocked.

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