The future of medical marijuana’s regulation hangs in the balance, as the second day of testimony resumed in Helena today in District Judge James Reynolds Court. The state is defending the medical marijuana overhaul after the Montana Cannabis Industry Association filed an injunction to block it from taking effect, claiming that Senate Bill 423 is unconstitutional. Over the past two days, doctors, patients and health care professionals have testified that Senate Bill 423 restricts a patient’s access to medical marijuana. “You can’t legislate morality, you can’t legislate ethics and that’s in part why you can’t legislate this issue,” says Director of Emergency Medical Services in Great Falls, Doctor John Stowers, also affiliated with Comfortable Living in Great Falls. Dr. Stowers says over roughly the past two years he’s recommended medical marijuana to some 500-600 patients, but if the Montana Marijuana Act goes into effect he’ll stop seeing patients. Stowers says his operation has been shut down since Senate Bill 423 passed because of the fear and uncertainty the reform brings. “This is setting a whole other standard of care that does not exist currently in any area of medicine,” he says
Under the new law if a physician recommends over 25 patients he or she is subject to a review by the Board of Medical Examiners. “Even if they find in their favor, I believe it’s a black mark on my record for the rest of my life,” says Stowers. Stowers says there’s a stigma attached to medical cannabis and the defense used that to their advantage. Assistant Attorney General Jim Molloy quickly asks “but you would also agree there is not a consensus within the medical community that medical marijuana should be authorized for use?” The state was also quick to point out the commercial aspects of Stowers’ business. The state argues that the Montana Cannabis Industry Association filed an injunction to block the law from going into effect to protect a “booming” marijuana industry. “So the income generated was $50,000 dollars, you reported a tax loss, did any of that $50,000 dollars make it over to you as income,” asks Molloy. “No I did not pocket money, no I didn’t have to pay taxes on anything and I filed those IRS forms,” answers Stowers.
While the state continues to argue that the medical marijuana overhaul eliminates abuse, the plaintiff’s points out “what we have here is essentially a Catch 22,” says Attorney James Goetz. The state’s chief health regulator says the statute is difficult to interpret and presents unintended consequences, “What I mean when a say an unintended consequence is in the discussion and debate when drafting legislation it is conceivable and not all points are understood,” says Roy Kemp with the Department of Public Health and Human Services Quality Service Division. The state called their first witness to the stand around three Tuesday afternoon, even though the case was scheduled to wrap up today it looks like the hearing will resume Wednesday morning. Judge Reynolds says he will not be making a ruling from the bench, he says he plans to issue an order by the end of the month.
via : KFBB
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