Judge: Transferring Pot Among Caregivers Illegal

By Beacon Staff

MISSOULA – A judge in Missoula has ruled the common practice of transferring medical marijuana from caregiver to caregiver is illegal under the state’s medical marijuana law.

District Judge John Larson ruled Wednesday the Medical Marijuana Act passed by voter initiative in 2004 “particularly prohibits a caregiver from providing marijuana to anyone other than a qualifying patient who has registered that specific caregiver.” The opinion supports the Missoula County Attorney’s Office, which issued a memo in August that such transactions are illegal.

Attorney Chris Lindsey had filed a lawsuit against Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg on behalf of Missoula caregiver Kevin Kerr to try to clarify the law. A similar suit was filed two weeks ago in Flathead County.

The Missoulian reports Kerr’s complaint argues Van Valkenburg’s view that the provision outlaws all caregiver-to-caregiver sales or exchanges “creates an impossibility” because caregivers have to get plants from somewhere.

“Quite simply, a caregiver can never meet his duty in providing marijuana to his patient(s) if he is never able to come in possession of it,” it says.

Meanwhile, the county argues the law “was not established to create a burgeoning industry with large-scale marijuana grow operations providing marijuana to multiple caregivers with no controls as to who eventually receives the product.”

Lindsey says his client is reviewing his options about whether to appeal Larson’s decision to the state Supreme Court or to file another lawsuit using a different theory.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.