Pubdate: Thu, 26 Dec 2013
Source: Missoula Independent (MT)
Copyright: 2013 Missoula Independent
Author: Jessica Mayrer



On a recent weekday afternoon, Tayln Lang greets a visitor to Rocky
Mountain Cannabis on Orange Street with a wide smile. The longtime
medical marijuana advocate launches into an animated explanation of
the drug's ability to ease symptoms that stem from a range of
ailments, including HIV, cancer and opiate addiction.

"I've seen wonderful, wonderful things happen," he

It's in part because Lang believes so vehemently in cannabis' healing
properties and the importance of providing it to the people most in
need that he's taken on the high-profile, yet potentially dangerous,
role of managing Rocky Mountain's prominent storefront location.

"What we're doing is still technically illegal under federal law,"
Lang acknowledges. He adds that because the operation is following
state law to the best of its ability he feels "relatively safe."

There's a significant amount of uncertainty, however, about what will
happen to Montana's Medical Marijuana Act in the coming months. In
2011, the federal government, along with local law enforcement
agencies, raided dozens of caregivers across the state, just as the
Montana Legislature debated a bill that would determine the industry's
future. Lawmakers eventually voted to prohibit marijuana providers
from profiting from sales and banned advertising.

The effects of the new law were immediate. Dispensaries soon shuttered
across the state and advertising disappeared. The number of patients
listed on Montana's medical marijuana registry plummeted from 30,036
in June 2011 to 7,519 this past October.

But in 2011 and again in January, Helena District Judge James P.
Reynolds emboldened the cannabis industry when he temporarily blocked
the profit and advertising bans. Reynolds' decisions means that
for-profit entities like Rocky Mountain Cannabis are ostensibly
operating in accordance with state law.

Armed with Reynolds' decisions, the local cannabis industry has begun
advertising again in recent weeks. At least two new dispensaries have
also opened, including Montana Buds and Rocky Mountain Cannabis. The
number of patients listed on the statewide registry also indicates
signs of growth, as 233 marijuana users were added between October and

Reynolds is expected to make a final decision on the profit and
advertising bans this spring. His opinion will be subject to appeal by
the Montana Attorney General's Office, notes Chris Lindsey, a
spokesman for Montana NORML. Lindsey also cautions that, while
Missoula seems to be seeing a resurgence, it's a tenuous one. The
legal wrangling could leave operators like Langand his patients in
limbo for many more months. "We're going to be on this path for a
while," he says.  
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jo-D