Eleven years after being approved, Montana's medical marijuana industry faces an existential threat

BILLINGS, Mont. – Gone are the flashing green neon lights on street corners advertising $200 ounces of marijuana in Billings and Butte and beyond. Gone are the traveling cannabis caravans of doctors infamous for signing up hundreds of medical marijuana hopefuls in a single day.

The vast majority of the nearly 30,000 patients and 4,900 providers that once flooded this state of just more than 1 million people have been driven out of Montana’s medical marijuana program, which was first legalized in 2004.

These days, those who remain in the state’s medical marijuana system deal in a combination of currency and uncertainty as they await the outcome of a state Supreme Court case that could cripple what’s left of the industry. A decision could come as soon as October, according to James Goetz, a lawyer who represents the medical marijuana industry.

Depending on the court’s ruling, medical marijuana providers could...

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