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Montana Judge Rules to Reopen Medical Dispensaries

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A judge ruled last week to reopen Montana's medical marijuana dispensaries.

In November, voters struck down the Montana Marijuana Act, passed in 2011, renaming it the Montana Medical Marijuana Act. The renaming brought certain changes, one of which forced a three-patient limit on providers — a decision that closed medical dispensaries across the state, leaving thousands of registered medical patients without providers.

The limit took effect in August and was overruled last week by District Judge James Reynolds.

"The folks that are maybe the most in need are the least able to provide, to grow their own," Reynolds said about his ruling, according to a report by the Associated Press. "I think speed is more important than niceties."

The Montana Cannabis Industry Association, the authors of the ballot measure, expected the three-patient limit to be struck down upon passage of the initiative, according to the Missoulian. But that didn't happen.

"It punished the patients and the sickest people in the state," Bobby Long, owner of the Flower dispensary in Missoula, told the Missoulian. "It helped the black market and hurts people who were trying to do the right thing."

Kate Cholewa, a lobbyist supporting the measure, told the AP that it's not clear how long it will take providers to get up and running again.

"The people who work providing marijuana in Montana were — let's face it — they were jerked around quite a bit," Cholewa told the AP. "They are somewhat used to it, and very good at coming back."

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