MMJ Dispensaries Gear Up for Law Changes
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MMJ Dispensaries Gear Up for Law Changes
Posted by CN Staff on May 07, 2011 at 06:15:51 PT
By Ed Kemmick of The Gazette Staff
Source: Billings Gazette
Helena  -- With Montana's new, stricter medical marijuana law going into effect in less than two months, many people who grow and sell cannabis are making plans to liquidate their businesses.Hiedi Handford of Lincoln, publisher of Montana Connect, a statewide magazine for medical marijuana patients and caregivers, said she figures about half the caregivers are already planning to bail out, while the others intend to stay in business in case the new law is overturned.
"They're staying and fighting," she said, and though she's not a grower herself, she plans to join them. "I grew up here. I'm not going to run away."Proponents of medical cannabis are still hoping that Gov. Brian Schweitzer will veto Senate Bill 423, though Schweitzer has said he intends to let it become law without his signature.SB423 is intended to clamp down on the industry, making it much harder for people claiming "severe chronic pain" to get medical marijuana cards. It will also require large marijuana-growing operations and storefront dispensaries to shut down by July 1.The bill will create a new system in which people authorized to use medical marijuana can either grow their own or obtain it without compensation from a provider who can grow it for up to three peopleMark Higgins, the owner of Montannabis, a business that grows marijuana for 200 to 300 medical cannabis patients, said he plans to be out of business before July 1.He's considering having an auction or selling his $65,000 worth of equipment on eBay. He also plans to sell all his remaining marijuana, since the new law will require him to turn over whatever is left to law enforcement authorities before July 1."There ain't gonna be any left, I guaran-god-danged-tee you that," he said.Higgins, who served on a committee created by the City Council to propose local regulations for the medical cannabis industry, said he will vacate his 4,500-square-foot building, for which he pays monthly rent of $1,600. His monthly payroll, for four employees including himself, is $10,000. He also has a monthly power bill of $1,500 to $2,000.Higgins isn't sure what he'll do next, but he said he is considering working as a consultant in another state where medical marijuana laws are more liberal. One thing he won't get involved in again is growing marijuana.Producing the pot puts a "target on my back ... 3 miles wide," he said.The fact that medical marijuana proponents are preparing to fight SB423 in court or at the ballot box doesn't affect his plans. Even if the law were overturned, Higgins said, he would be getting out of the business.Although his business wasn't targeted when federal and state agents executed 26 warrants on marijuana businesses across the state in March, Higgins was rattled by the raids."I'm already a criminal in the eyes of the federal government, and it bothers me, to say the least," he said.Handford said other caregivers have said the same thing — that the federal action is more frightening than the changes to state law."The feds are definitely waving the fear stick," she said. "That's their job. ... They want to drive it underground."One of the patients served by Higgins is Terry Truley, 58, who was in Montannabis on Wednesday to buy some marijuana to deal with the pain of what she said was her stage 4 lymphatic breast cancer, which has metastasized into her bones.She said she did a lot of research before deciding to use Higgins' services last year, saying his was "probably the most respectable storefront I encountered."She said she might trying growing her own marijuana after Higgins closes his shop, "but it's not as easy as growing tomatoes out in your garden."She doesn't like the alternative, which would be going back to "heavy-duty narcotics." She said she doesn't handle narcotics well and probably wouldn't be able to drive again if she started using them, stranding her at home. She used to lose eight to 10 pounds some months because narcotics suppressed her appetite, she said, but Higgins has given her strains of cannabis that got her eating regularly again.She can't imagine finding someone willing to provide her with free cannabis, as provided by the new law, and she's sorry to see Higgins go."I think it's really a shame," she said.Police Chief Rich St. John, meanwhile, said he's still not sure what direction enforcement of the new law will take. He said he will have to consult with the offices of the city and county attorneys to determine what kind of violations would be involved, say, if a storefront medical cannabis provider were still open on July 1.The owner conceivably could be charged with misdemeanor or felony distribution or possession of marijuana, or it could be addressed as a simple code violation, he said.Once those questions are answered, St. John said, the department will need to come up with a plan to enforce the law, probably by communicating with the various licensed providers to make sure they are in compliance with the new law.Source: Billings Gazette, The (MT)Author: Ed Kemmick of The Gazette StaffPublished:   May 7, 2011Copyright: 2011 The Billings GazetteContact: speakup billingsgazette.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives 
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on May 18, 2011 at 08:49:14 PT
I hope he wins if you like him that much. We have been turning off the news and watching other programs because it's to early to be bombarded with news as far as 2012 goes. If they only started with news next summer about elections it would be fine with me.
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Comment #7 posted by josephlacerenza on May 18, 2011 at 07:42:13 PT
Support for Wanzenried Gov 2012!
Senator David Wanzenried’s voting record 2007-2011! I’m behind this guy!!! He sees more than just the MMJ issue!
Wanzenried 4 Gov MT 2012!
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Comment #6 posted by josephlacerenza on May 17, 2011 at 07:29:29 PT
MTCIA Funraiser in Billings Montana
The Montana Cannabis Industry Association (MTCIA) are doing GREAT work here in Montana to try and unify and mobilize the cannabis community. I was asking for an NRA like organization, well, this is as close as we could get in the time we were given!
Montana Cannabis Industry Association (MTCIA)
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Comment #5 posted by josephlacerenza on May 14, 2011 at 15:37:04 PT
Montana Department of Health and Human Services UPDATE: just got this in the mail today!!
I also looks like we are going to be able to advertize for a bit longer!
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Comment #4 posted by josephlacerenza on May 14, 2011 at 10:54:30 PT
We May Be Down....
But we're not out!! Great rallies Friday here in Montana! to come!!
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Comment #3 posted by josephlacerenza on May 13, 2011 at 06:49:46 PT
Poll, Will you support stopping SB423
Go vote on this poll!!
lower right hand corner!
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Comment #2 posted by josephlacerenza on May 12, 2011 at 14:33:58 PT
Stay Informed and Take Action!
SB423 UPDATE: May 12, 2011 There are plenty of opportunities to take ACTION against SB423!1.) Be registered, make sure you are registered for where you live!!! You WILL be TURNED away, or your signature will NOT COUNT!2.) Sigh a petition, ANY petition that comes in front of you calling to end SB423!!3.) Get ONE other person to register to VOTE!!!4.) Get ONE person to sign a petition that WILL be being circulated!!Stay Informed UPDATES CONSTANTLY!!
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Comment #1 posted by dongenero on May 10, 2011 at 07:44:09 PT
"gear up" for law changes? Gear up??
"MMJ Dispensaries Gear Up for Law Changes"I think what they really meant to say in the headline is:"MMJ Dispensaries Close Business, Lay-Off Employees and End Multimillion Dollar Tax Revenue Stream due to New Law that Leaves Sick Montanans Wondering Where To Turn."
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