Montana Medical Marijuana User Numbers Stabilizing

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – The number of registered medical marijuana users in Montana is leveling out after last year’s restrictive law passed by the Legislature caused a steep drop in cardholders and providers.

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services reports there were 8,681 registered users in the state as of June 30, a number that is slightly down from 8,734 users the month before.

That represents a much smaller decline than the previous months leading back to June 2011, when there were more than 30,000 medical marijuana cardholders in Montana.

Lee Newspapers of Montana reports 390 medical marijuana providers were registered with the state in June. That is down from 400 in May.

The number of providers peaked at 4,848 in March 2011.

The Legislature that spring passed new restrictions on who can buy and sell medical marijuana, making it more difficult to qualify as a registered user or seller. The new law came on the heels of coordinated federal raids against large medical marijuana operations across the state, which caused many providers to shut their doors.

One provision of the new law would eliminate commercial sales of medical marijuana, but that part of the law has been blocked in a court challenge.

The Montana Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case May 30 but has not yet issued its decision.

The new law also is on November’s ballot, giving voters an opportunity to decide whether to keep it or repeal it.

By county, Gallatin had the most medical marijuana patients registered with the state in June with 1,443. Missoula County was second with 939, followed by Yellowstone with 914, Flathead with 850, Silver Bow with 671, Ravalli with 525, Lewis and Clark with 524, Park with 358 and Cascade with 242.

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