The Cannabist Reports

Marijuana dispensaries will have at least two weeks to prepare for severe rollbacks to Montana’s medical marijuana law, though most will likely have to shut down, the head of an advocacy group that tried to block the restrictions said Friday.

On Thursday, the Montana Supreme Court upheld nearly all of the provisions of a 2011 state law to roll back much of the 2004 voter-approved initiative that legalized medical marijuana.

The ruling means that marijuana providers can sell to no more than three registered users each; doctors who recommend the drug to more than 25 patients in a year will be automatically reviewed; and marijuana advertising will be banned.

The ruling does not take effect until the judgment is formally entered in district court, which won’t happen before March 10, Supreme Court clerk Ed Smith said. That could be delayed further if the plaintiffs who sued to block the 2011 law ask the court for a re-hearing of the case.

Mort Reid, president of the lead plaintiff Montana Cannabis Information Association, said he doubted such a request would change anything.

“It’s highly unlikely that we would be granted a re-hearing on this, so that’s probably not an option,” Reid said. “My advice to all the providers across the state is in two weeks’ time, don’t be out of compliance.”

There were 471 medical marijuana providers for 13,640 registered patients at the end of January, according to the most recent data from the state Department of Public Health and Human Services.

Of those providers, 325 supply the drug to more people than the three-patient limit set by state lawmakers and upheld by the Supreme Court’s decision. The largest provider has more than 770 patients.

Reid acknowledged most of those large operations will have to shut down. Even if all 471 continued to operate with only three patients each, that would leave more than 12,200 patients without a legal way to buy medical marijuana, he said.

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