By March Of 2010, 12,000 Montanans Were Carrying Cards, And By June Nearly 20,000.

Unlike Maines, it was implemented as written, opening the door to a plethora of problems. The watershed announcement Sands heads up the Children, Families, Health, and Human Services Interim Committee, which spent last summer revisiting Montanas medical marijuana program. Initially, public participation in the program was restrained, Sands said in a recent phone interview. For several years, individual patient enrollments increased gradually from 86 people when the program opened in March 2005 to about 4,000 in September 2009. But in October 2009, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Obama administration would back off from prosecuting medical marijuana patients, a policy that many drug reform advocates interpreted as a first step toward overall legalization. Within two months of the announcement, the number of medical marijuana cardholders in Montana nearly doubled to 7,300. By March of 2010, 12,000 Montanans were carrying cards, and by June nearly 20,000. Currently, about 27,000 active cardholders are on the states registry, Sands said. At the same time the cardholder applications started pouring in, she said, dispensaries sprang up on every Main Street in Montana, in the cities and the little towns. Local populations and law enforcement blew a gasket. The Montana law does not differentiate between small-time growers who cultivate a few plants for a handful of patients and commercial-scale operations that serve many customers.

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