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  Law Enforcement and Providers React To Decision
Posted by CN Staff on June 30, 2011 at 20:26:42 PT
By Zachary Benoit and Greg Tuttle  
Source: Billings Gazette 

medical Billings -- Law enforcement officials and medical marijuana providers in Billings expressed some confusion about how to proceed after a Helena district judge on Thursday temporarily blocked parts of a medical marijuana law passed by the 2011 Legislature.

Mark Higgins, owner of Billings-based Montannabis, said Thursday that he is closing his current medical marijuana business for good. After hearing the decision, spent much of the evening worrying if he would be arrested on Friday morning for having nearly 250 plants in his business.

He wasn't sure how the new law would affect him since he doesn't have any patients under the new law. He'd arranged for a local drug task force to pick up the plants, but both were waiting for the decision before acting.

At around 8:30 p.m., the task force showed up and removed the plants.

"They were very professional and courteous of my feelings," Higgins said. "It was definitely the right thing for this caregiver to do. I hope the rest of the caregivers do the same."

A crew from Habitat for Humanity will tear down and recycle the materials used to build his growing rooms.

One of the better-known medical marijuana providers in Billings, Higgins said his decision to close was based on several factors, including the recent raids of similar businesses across the state by federal law enforcement agents.

"Not knowing whether you're going to jail or going home at the end of the day is pretty stressful," he said.

He added that patients under the old law are "waiting in the wings" for how the law affects them and whether or not they'll be approved for a new card.

"It creates so much confusion and it's going to take weeks and months for this information to trickle down to the doctors," he said.

Higgins also said he has his own medical issues to address, but plans to stay active on the medical marijuana front by supporting the cause. It is likely an effort to gather signatures to place a repeal of the new law restricting medical marijuana sales on a statewide ballot next year will succeed.

"The momentum for that is growing," he said.

Higgins hopes to stay in the field and is considering offering his experience as a consultant to future startup businesses but hopes to become a provider again, but without the storefront business. Operating a medical marijuana business is full of traps and risks, he said, and he feels his knowledge and skills could be valuable to others.

"The biggest problem in the industry is it's so easy to do the wrong thing," he said.

Billings Deputy Police Chief Tim O'Connell said that the department is taking a wait-and-see approach, especially since many providers had been preparing to close their doors.

"We've got to wait until the dust settles and figure out what we need to do," he said. "We can't do any knee-jerk reactions to this. What our department plans on doing is figuring out what we can and can't do as far as the law goes."

One provider turned in excess marijuana earlier this week to the BPD, while at least one other had arranged to have officers remove plants from a business, O'Connell said. Even with the injunction, officers will work with the providers to collect the processed marijuana or plants, which will be burned in an incinerator, he said.

"Our department is just being real cautious so we know all the facts before we act," O'Connell said.

Source: Billings Gazette, The (MT)
Author: Zachary Benoit and Greg Tuttle of the Gazette Staff
Published: June 30, 2011
Copyright: 2011 The Billings Gazette

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Comment #2 posted by afterburner on July 02, 2011 at 10:40:36 PT
Pronibition of Cannabis Is a Broken Machine
The fact is demonstrated by current law enforcement officers, who are not free to object to the current Unconstitutional federal CSA until their job no longer depends on gunpoint agreement with their superior officers.

After their turn at busting the perps, they retire and join LEAP, disclaiming their job history of prohibition enforcement.

As UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan tacitly supported the US-led and UN-ratified insane prohibition of the UN Single Convention Treaty.

Now, as former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan is part of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which recently released a "report describing the multi-decade 'war on drugs' by governments around the world as a disastrous failure."

Broken machine: those in power cannot oppose it until they are no longer in power, and then they are dismissed as radicals!

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Comment #1 posted by runruff on July 02, 2011 at 01:09:09 PT
convolution begets convolution!
Prohibition of a popular-anything will create a problem for law enforcement

Take the herb. You cannot take 7,000 years of history and erase it as the super-corporate minds of our country have tried. Such hubris. How to wipe out an entire genre of plant? from the whole planet?-nuts!

Nobody on either side will give in. There is too much at stake. The end of the prohibition of hemp will be the end of the world economy as wee know it. The planet will start to rejuvenate as will jobs and green industry.

The big names in the top 1% will be on a steady decline. So how hard do we want to fight for this cause? I know they will as they have, go all the way! What more can they do but declare war on their own peps and they have already done that?

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