UPDATE Nov 30 2009: Missoula is considering an ordinance to restrict marijuana stores.
UPDATE Nov 19 2009: Whitefish will soon vote on a total prohibition on medical marijuana businesses.
Close call. The city of Billings considered an “emergency” ordinance to regulate caregiver businesses last night. Had it passed, caregiver gardens would have been classified as “adult” businesses, like porno-shops, and prohibited from operating within 1,000 feet of:
…residential neighborhoods, schools, churches, parks, trails, day care centers, cemeteries and group homes. The ordinance would also prohibit medical marijuana sales as a home business.
Why prohibit caregivers near cemeteries? Who knows? The more onerous requirement — no home-based businesses. That means caregivers would be required to open retail shops and nurseries obvious to and inspect-able by law enforcement, we assume.
Last night, the medical marijuana ordinance was tabled. So, no ordinance for now, but rest assured they’re working on something still.
It’s clear that some sort of additional legal controls are coming, and it’s possible that will actually be a Good Thing. Here at NORML we’ve heard numerous stories about unscrupulous caregivers selling substandard product at exorbitant prices, importing Mexican schwag coated in pesticides and selling it as medicine, giving erroneous legal advice to patients and aspiring caregivers, and even ripping patients off.
It’s a bit of the Wild West in the Montana medical marijuana scene right now, and local regulations, preferably drafted with patients and advocates at the table, may be a way to help.
Of course the real solution is to remove criminal penalties for marijuana possession for everyone, and create a legal, regulated market for responsible adults. More on that soon.