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Montana: Supreme Court Says Patients Possess No Fundamental Right To Cannabis

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 12, 2012

    Members of the Montana Supreme Court ruled 6 to 1 on Tuesday that patients do not possess a fundamental right to access and consume cannabis for therapeutic purposes. The decision reverses a District Court ruling enjoining the state from enforcing various provisions of a 2011 state law that limits the public’s access to medical marijuana.

    “In pursuing one’s health, an individual has a fundamental right to obtain and reject medical treatment,” Justice Michael Wheat opined for the majority. “But, this right does not extend to give a patient a fundamental right to use any drug, regardless of its legality.”

    He added, “A patient’s ‘selection of a particular treatment, or at least a medication, is within the area of government interest in protecting public health,’ and regulation of that medication does not implicate a fundamental constitutional right.”

    The Court further opined that a patient’s “right to privacy does not encompass the affirmative right of access to medical marijuana.”

    The majority concluded, “[T]he plaintiffs cannot seriously contend that they have a fundamental right to medical marijuana when it is still unequivocally illegal under the (federal) Controlled Substances Act.”

    The Court’s decision allows for the state to fully implement Senate Bill 423, a 2011 law that sought to significantly limit the use, production, and distribution of cannabis among patients who possess a physician’s authorization to consume it.

    Montana voters will decide in November on Initiative Referendum 124, which seeks to repeal SB 423. Montana voters in 2004 approved patients’ use of medical cannabis for qualified illnesses by a vote of 62 percent.

    Full text of the decision, Montana Cannabis Industry Association et al. v State is available online here.

    NORML has additional details about this November’s statewide and municipal ballot initiative at our Smoke the Vote page here.

    54 Responses to “Montana: Supreme Court Says Patients Possess No Fundamental Right To Cannabis”

    1. St. Nick says:

      I agree Dave. There are some solutions to problems like this. One is good laws as opposed to evil. No greed. Only going to war if we have to. Another solution is God but that won’t change everyone’s evil ways on this planet. Let’s face it: people like osama bin laden, charles manson, and adolf hitler are doing bad just to be evil. But this is a world of illusion: they have no real power and are cowards. Other solutions are voting in good candidates. If they’re sane and we’re crazy, I’d rather be crazy.

    2. Tom O says:

      Grand Rapids Michigan has a proposal on the November ballot to decriminalize possesion by adults.

    3. Lynn Atherton Bloxham says:

      Thanks to several wonderful organizations such as Norml and the Libertarian Party who have stayed true to individual liberty all these years. They have endured ridicule and worse but their understanding of the fundamental rights of us all are finally bearing fruit.

    4. [...] legislature but ultimately vetoed by Democrat Gov.Brian Schweitzer.) Passage of SB 423, which was recently upheld  by the state Supreme Court, has led to a dramatic decline  in the total number of patients [...]

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