[author: David B. Weisenfeld, XpertHR Legal Editor]
The Montana Supreme Court has upheld a law that greatly restricts access to medical marijuana even though such usage is legal in the state. This September 11 ruling finds that the state law barring marijuana providers from making a profit does not violate their right, or users' rights, to pursue employment.
Writing for the Court, Justice Michael Wheat said, "Although individuals have a fundamental right to pursue employment, they do not have a fundamental right to pursue a particular employment or employment free of state regulation." Judge Wheat added that individuals do not have an affirmative right of access to a particular drug.
Since the state had declared medical marijuana a legal product in Montana through a 2004 voter referendum, the plaintiffs argued that a prohibition on providers' ability to make money directly implicated their right to employment.
But Montana's highest court disagreed, noting more than once that medical marijuana remains illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act.
This issue will again "light up" in November as another ballot initiative is asking voters whether they wish to reject the state's newer restrictions or restore the 2004 law that first legalized the drug's use for medicinal purposes in Montana.