Montana was once home to a thriving medical marijuana scene. During the second half of the 2000’s, Montana’s patient base grew, and medical marijuana was decently priced, great quality, and easy to find. A lot has changed since those times. Due to legislation, and a failed legal challenge against the legislation, Montana’s medical marijuana program has been gutted.
It’s my understanding that there are still collectives in Montana, but more of them are closing every day. The ones that are open are struggling because of the new rules that govern the amount of patients a provider can grow and provide for. Not every patient can grow their own medicine. In fact, I would wager that most patients can’t grow for themselves due to one reason or another.
First of all, it takes a substantial amount of money for a personal garden. Montana is freezing cold, so I assume outdoor cultivation is difficult in most parts of the state, if not outright impossible in other parts of the state. Many patients would have to grow their own medicine indoors, which requires lights, soil, some type of plant food (compost tea or other inputs), and a bunch of other stuff. I just built a personal indoor garden at my house, and it wasn’t cheap. One light alone was over $300, and that was just for a 400 watter (not sure if ‘watter’ is a word, but hopefully you are picking up what I’m putting down).
And that doesn’t even get into building a room, which took building materials. A lot of patients don’t even have a place that they can grow in, no matter how much free grow equipment they can come across. Many landlords prohibit cultivation of any kind, even medical. Even if a patient could jump through all the hoops, and build a rocking grow room, and acquire clones or seeds (itself not easy to do), plants still take 3-4 months to go from start to finish. Sure, there are methods to speed up the process, but a rookie grower isn’t going to be able to do it, especially while suffering from the condition that they are trying to use medical marijuana for.
Montana is a very big state, with people spread all over the place. It’s not exactly like where I live in Oregon, where I can go to the corner dispensary or the one a block away or the other one on the corner past it. A suffering patient would have to drive many hours in some cases to get to a dispensary, a dispensary of which that is no help because it can only serve a very limited number of patients now. It’s a nightmare.
This is not just a small problem either. Per the Billings Gazette, an alarming number of medical marijuana patients in Montana are currently listed as being ‘without a provider’:
The number of registered medical marijuana patients in Montana without access to a legal provider has quadrupled in the past two weeks to 11,850 patients.
Ninety-three percent of the 12,730 patients registered with the Montana Marijuana Program are listed as “patients with no provider” in the program’s first monthly report — released this week from the state — since a law limiting providers to three patients took effect on Aug. 31.
To be fair, patients listed as not having a provider could possibly be growing for themselves, but no one knows, and as outlined above, it’s simply not an option for many patients. It’s sad to see the current state of affairs in Montana. Patients there, as with everywhere, deserve safe access to medical marijuana if they choose to use it. There is a silver lining in Montana, in that there is an initiative that is going to appear on the November ballot that would largely restore Montana’s medical marijuana program to what it used to be. I-182 needs all the help it can get, because as the current math is clearly showing, patients need help. You can find out more about the Montana campaign via their website, and if you live in Montana, make sure to sign up to volunteer to help get the message out and to donate if you are able.