Medical pot dispensaries firebombed in Montana

Someone threw a Molotov cocktail through the window of a Billings, Mont., medical marijuana business early Monday and spray-painted “NOT IN OUR TOWN” on its storefront, the second such act in as many days, authorities said.

The attempted arsons come as the Billings City Council was scheduled to vote on whether to place a six-month moratorium on new medical marijuana businesses opening in the city.

A rock was used to break the glass of Montana Therapeutics at 4:30 a.m. Monday, and a beer bottle filled with gasoline was lit and thrown inside, Billings police Sgt. Kevin Iffland said. A passerby reported the fire.

Fire crews quickly put out the small blaze, Deputy Fire Marshal Trevor Schilling said.

A day earlier, at about 5 a.m., surveillance video showed two young men spray-painting “NOT IN OUR TOWN” on the front of Big Sky Patient Care, and then throw a rock through the front door followed by a flaming bottle, Big Sky owner David Couch said.

Nobody was injured in either instance.

Trevor McFarren, co-owner of Montana Therapeutics, said his business provides medical marijuana for about 50 people and has operated since January. Until now, the business has never had a problem, a complaint or even a bad phone call, he said.

Mr. McFarren said he thinks the upcoming council vote has something to do with the timing of the act that he estimated caused $2,500 in damage.

“I’m sure they’re trying to fuel the fire about [the vote],” he said. “It’s more of an attack on the community than anything.”

Mr. Couch also said he has not had any complaints about his business since it opened in April. He declined to say how many patients Big Sky has.

“If anything good comes out of this, it will probably be a desire for more education in the general public,” he said.

Police have no suspects, Sgt. Iffland said. Surveillance video may have captured what happened, but the building’s owners do not want to release the video to police until they speak to their attorney, he said.

Detectives were investigating whether the acts were done by opponents of medical marijuana businesses ahead of the council’s vote or by business rivals, Sgt. Iffland said.

The medical marijuana trade has boomed in Montana since the Obama administration last year said it would not prosecute medical marijuana cases. More than 4,800 new patients were added to the state’s registry in the first three months of this year, according to the state Department of Public Health and Human Services.

As of March 31, the state had some 12,081 patients and about 2,800 registered “caregivers” providing them with medical marijuana. That compares with about 800 registered patients in 2008.

That growth has exposed holes in the state medical marijuana law, which was passed by ballot initiative in 2004, and the state legislature is hearing recommendations from law enforcement, cities, schools and the medical marijuana community on changes when it goes back into session in January.

 via : The Washington Times

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