Pubdate: Wed, 23 Dec 2009
Source: Whitefish Pilot (MT)
Copyright: 2009 Northwest Montana Daily Inter Lake
Author: Richard Hanners
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


The executive director of a Bozeman-based medical marijuana collective
has not ruled out suing the city of Whitefish over a moratorium on
such businesses that was recently approved by the Whitefish City Council.

The Healing Center's Mike Smith told the Pilot on Monday he was
withholding comment for now on advice of his attorney, but earlier
this month he told the Missoula Independent he "plans to sue the city"
over the zoning measure.

Smith said his nonprofit collective has an attorney in the Flathead
who will contact Whitefish city attorney John Phelps about the matter.

"We're looking at all options," Smith said. "We want Whitefish to
comply with state law."

The city council adopted an interim zoning ordinance on Dec. 7 that
prohibits medical marijuana businesses in Whitefish and within one
mile of the city limits while city staff figure out how to zone such

"I'm here for the patients," Smith said about suing the

The six-month moratorium does not apply to patients with six plants
and one ounce of marijuana or to caregivers with no more than three

But Smith says state law places no limit on the number of patients
that a caregiver can provide medical marijuana.

He also said caregivers who provide medical marijuana to patients are
not businesses and so not subject to zoning regulations. Caregivers
can operate as a business if they choose, he said, but they also can
be compensated for the cost of electricity, soil and their time
growing marijuana without being considered a business.

"The law allows for reasonable compensation," he said.

Smith said a collective connected to The Healing Center will open in
Kalispell after Jan. 1. The collective, which will also offer hemp
food and lotions, will operate like a private club where the patients
help each other.

Kevin Moore, the owner of the Ultimate Submissions Academy, in
Kalispell, confirmed to the Pilot that he is working with The Healing
Center on starting a medical marijuana collective in Kalispell after
Jan. 1.

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