Archive for July 9th, 2010


In case you missed the short story over at the Indy, OPG staff and city attorney Jim Nugent have established a new zoning policy that restricts the establishment of medical marijuana businesses within a 1000 ft buffer of any schools. As stated in the article, the move is based on Montana State law 45-9-109. That statute makes the distribution of dangerous drugs within 1000 ft of a school a felony offense. The above map is the restricted areas around Missoula schools – I must say I find this map fairly amusing since OPG staff didn’t even feel the need to add a legend or explanation of the data being mapped, they felt it was sufficient to just place a giant marijuana leaf on the map and call it good.

Anyway… for your reading pleasure here is Mntana Code Annotated;

(1) A person commits the offense of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs on or near school property if the person violates 45-9-101 in, on, or within 1,000 feet of the real property comprising a public or private elementary or secondary school.
(2) Except as provided in 46-18-222, a person convicted of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs on or near school property:
(a) shall be imprisoned in the state prison for a term of not less than 3 years or more than life; and
(b) may be fined an amount of not more than $50,000.
(3) It is not a defense to prosecution under subsection (1) that the person did not know the distance involved.
(4) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution for a violation of this section that:
(a) the prohibited conduct took place entirely within a private residence; and
(b) no person 17 years of age or younger was present in the private residence at any time during the commission of the offense.

I understand the need to refine and better regulate an industry that has become ever more chaotic since it’s rapid growth started only a few years ago. But to me the application of a criminal statute to regulate zoning of a legal business is not the right measure to be taken, nor is it anywhere near a permanent fix to what many people see as an increasingly important problem that needs to be tackled. I wonder if such thinking would apply to the establishment of a pharmacy within 1000 ft of a school since a pharmacy distributes equally “dangerous” drugs if not used in a responsible manner?

The manner in which Missoula is beginning to regulate our burgeoning new industry is also of concern. While many other cities and counties are openly discussing what should be done about the medical marijuana business in their own communities within city council chambers and in local news paper op-ed sections there has been little open discussion in a public setting in Missoula. (please correct me if anyone knows if this has come up in any committee meetings). Maybe it’s just not a big deal here in Missoula that needs urgent action. We are after all fairly used to the marijuana business here – legal or otherwise – unlike more conservative Montana towns that see the marijuana as an unacceptable public nuisance even for legitimate medical purposes.

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