Advocates condemn attacks on Montana dispensaries

Posted on May 15th, 2010 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

Medical marijuana advocates in Montana are condemning recent arson attempts against two local dispensaries. Two separate attempts to set fire to medicinal cannabis dispensaries occurred last week in Billings. At both locations, the words "Not in Our Town" were spray-painted on the storefronts. These acts of intimidation come as the city is considering a temporary ban or moratorium on new dispensaries, in order to allow for the development of a regulatory ordinance.

"These kinds of attacks are unacceptable and must be investigated," said Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA). "It is also incumbent on the city to quickly develop regulations that will better protect medical marijuana providers and keep everyone in the community safe." ASA is working with local activists to respond to the attacks by holding community meetings and urging greater protection of patients. Patients & Families United, an Helena-based support group, issued a statement calling on Montanans to unite in strong opposition to targeted attacks on medical marijuana facilities.

In 2004, 62% of Montana voters passed Initiative 148, the Montana Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA). Medical marijuana dispensaries began to flourish in Montana after the US Justice Department indicated last October that it would not pursue those in compliance with state medical marijuana laws. However, while the MMMA explicitly allows for caregivers to grow marijuana for qualified patients, the law is vague on how patients can obtain marijuana by other means, such as through local distribution facilities. Absent much statewide direction, localities are taking distribution matters into their own hands.

Billings and other cities in the state have recognized and licensed dozens of distribution centers. "Billings and other Montana cities have the prerogative to develop local regulations," continued Sherer. "However, those same cities should protect the rights of patients and issue clear declarations against these attacks."

Both Maine and Rhode Island have amended their medical marijuana laws to include state-licensed distribution, and regulatory ordinances have been passed by more than 40 California counties and municipalities. (ASA, May 10)


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