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Mt: High Court Rules Against Medical Marijuana Providers(cg/cg)

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Not that this effects Michigan, but it is always wise to pay attention.




Decision pdf --> http://www.filedump....g1342390811.pdf





Newshawk: Herb

Pubdate: Sat, 14 Jul 2012

Source: Hungry Horse News (MT)

Copyright: 2012 Hagadone Corporation

Contact: http://mapinc.org/url/27ORot9C

Website: http://www.flatheadn...ungryhorsenews/

Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/5260

Author: Richard Hanners




The Montana Supreme Court recently upheld a ruling by a Flathead

County district court judge relating to the sentencing of two medical

marijuana providers who were arrested in the Canyon last year.


In the 5-0 ruling, the high court agreed that it is illegal under the

2009 Medical Marijuana Act for caregivers to exchange marijuana with

other caregivers.


According to court records, Lief Erickson, 48, and Robin Ruiz, 52,

both of Kalispell, were stopped by law enforcement on U.S. 2 near

Lake Five Road on Feb. 3, 2011. A search of their vehicle turned up

more than three pounds of marijuana, 300 capsules containing THC and

five vials of suspected THC honey.


The case quickly grew in complexity as the two claimed medical

marijuana caregivers like themselves were allowed to exchange their

products like any other business. Erickson and Ruiz claimed they were

delivering the medical marijuana products to a caregiver in Great

Falls for distribution to patients there.


The Medical Marijuana Growers Association sued Flathead County

Attorney Ed Corrigan on March 23, 2011, claiming Ruiz and Erickson

were legally transferring marijuana under the state's Medical Marijuana Act.


In a July 21, 2011, ruling, however, Flathead County District Court

Judge Stewart Stadler said the Medical Marijuana Act does not allow

for medical marijuana transactions between caregivers.


In an earlier ruling, Missoula County District Court Judge John

Larson also ruled that caregiver-to-caregiver transactions were not

legal. That case was appealed to the Montana Supreme Court by Chris

Lindsey, the attorney representing Erickson.


In a July 11, 2011, hearing before Flathead County District Court

Judge David Ortley, Ruiz said that prior to his arrest, a

representative of the Montana Attorney General's Office had told him

the transactions were legal.


Ruiz's attorney, Timothy Baldwin, said he had received similar

assurances from an employee at the Montana Department of Public

Health and Human Services. Baldwin admitted, however, neither he nor

Ruiz were able to convince either of the state officials to put their

statements in writing.


Erickson and Ruiz eventually pleaded no contest to felony criminal

possession with intent to distribute. On Jan. 20, Ortley gave

Erickson a four-year suspended sentence. On March 15, Ortley

sentenced Ruiz to a four-year deferred sentence.


Justice James Nelson, while concurring with the Montana Supreme

Court's unanimous ruling, called the conflict between state law

allowing use of marijuana and federal law prohibiting its use a

"continuing fiasco." The legal conflict remains despite changes in

state law since the time of Erickson's and Ruiz's arrest.


"The Legislature has since tinkered with the act, going to far as to

scrap the original voter-approved scheme entirely and replace it with

a new and improved 'Montana Marijuana Act,'" Nelson wrote. "Yet, with

due respect to and without impugning the zeal and good faith of

everyone involved in this continuing fiasco, the fact remains that

the medical marijuana laws seek to legalize conduct that is violative

of the federal Controlled Substances Act."


Nelson said state courts should not be required to waste any more

time dealing with medical marijuana issues.


"After all, as already noted, judges in Montana take an oath to

support, protect and defend the federal Constitution and are bound by

federal laws, anything in the laws of this state to the contrary

notwithstanding," Nelson wrote. "On this issue, it is time we started

doing that."






HELENA — As Montana awaits a major medical marijuana decision by the Montana Supreme Court, the justices recently upheld a lower court decision forbidding caregivers from engaging in marijuana transactions or cultivation services with other caregivers, their agents or contractors.


Last week, the Montana Supreme Court, in a 5-0 decision, affirmed a ruling by District Judge Stewart Stadler of Kalispell.

He had ruled in favor of the Flathead County Attorney’s Office in a case filed by the Medical Marijuana Growers Association and two “couriers” and three “caregivers,” none of whom were named.

They had asked the judge to declare that the 2009 Medical Marijuana Act allowed caregivers to deliver, transport or transfer marijuana and its paraphernalia to other caregivers through an agent or to cultivate and manufacture marijuana as an agent or contractor for another caregiver.


Caregivers, now known as providers, must be registered with the state. They are allowed by law to sell marijuana or marijuana products to medical marijuana cardholders, formerly called patients.

The growers group, couriers and caregivers had asked Stadler for a declaratory judgment that caregivers could legally perform some of these activities under the 2009 state law.

Two of the couriers had been charged in criminal cases with the possession of a dangerous drug, with the intent to distribute, for allegedly possessing and transporting marijuana on behalf of Caregiver 3.

Flathead County Attorney Ed Corrigan argued that the plain language of the 2009 law made it clear that caregiver-to-caregiver transactions are illegal.


Writing for the court, Justice Patricia Cotter agreed with Corrigan.


“We find the plain language of this statute clear and unambiguous.” Cotter wrote. “A caregiver is authorized to provide marijuana to qualifying patients only.


“The 2009 MMA (Medical Marijuana Act) does not provide for the transfer of marijuana or paraphernalia from caregiver to caregiver or among their agents, nor is there a provision allowing for a caregiver to cultivate marijuana for other caregivers or for their agents or contractors.


“We will not read or insert these provisions into the statute. We find that the specific provisions that a caregiver may provide marijuana only to qualifying patients specifically prohibits the privileges and declarations that the plaintiffs seek.”


The decision clears up what some believed had been a gray area in the 2009 law.


The 2011 Legislature passed a major revision of the 2004 voter-passed initiative legalizing the use of marijuana for certain medicinal reasons, and the 2009 law.


The 2011 law is far more restrictive than earlier laws and the number of medical marijuana cardholders has plummeted.

The Montana Cannabis Industry Association and others sought to strike down the entire 2011 law in a lawsuit filed shortly after the Legislature adjourned.


In mid-2011, District Judge James Reynolds of Helena temporarily blocked some parts of the law from taking effect.

Both the association and the Attorney General’s office have appealed separate portions of his decision to the Montana Supreme Court. The justices heard the case May 30 but have not yet issued a decision.


A key issue before the court is whether people have a fundamental, constitutional right to sell medical marijuana, which is legal under state law, but illegal under federal law.

Opponents of the 2011 law obtained enough signatures last year to qualify it for the 2012 ballot as a referendum.


Voters in November will decide whether to retain or reject the law.

If a majority of Montanans vote to reject the 2011 law, state law reverts to the 2009 law.


Read more: http://billingsgazet...l#ixzz20jRXudZJ

Edited by Malamute
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