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Med pot applicants will need Montana ID

 

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Medical marijuana applicants wi l l h ave t o prove they are Montana resid e n t s b e fo r e t h ey c a n b e added to the patient registry after health officials turned up several applications from people who live out of state.

Starting Monday, new applicants and patients seeking renewals will have to provide a driver's license or state-issued identification number on their applications, state Department of Public Health and Human Services spokesman Chuck Counci l said Wednesday.

Health officials decided to change their policy after discovering several people whose permanent residences were outside Montana, such as college students and snowbirds, had applied for medical marijuana cards. Council said it is unclear just how many such applications were received.

"It was enough that it was a concern," Council said. "When the law was created, it was meant that Montana citizens were the ones who were (supposed to be) getting medical marijuana cards."

It is not known how many out-ofstate residents have received Montana medical marijuana cards.

There won't be an audit to check pas t appl icat ions, but cur rent patients who seek to renew their cards will be required to provide proof of residency, Council said.

Montana medical marijuana cards expire after one year.

"If you're on the registry now, you're safe. But if you renew, they're going to look for that," Council said.

There were approximately 23,500 medical marijuana pat ients in Montana by the end of July, according to health department records. That's an increase of nearly 4,000 people in just a month, a continuation of the medical pot boom that in the first six months of 2010 has seen more than 12,300 registered users added to the state registry.

The founder of the Montana Caregivers Network, a Missoula-based organization that has helped thousands of people apply for medical marijuana cards, said he opposes the new rule.

Out-of-state residents should be allowed medical marijuana cards whether they live in Montana part of the year or are even just visiting on vacation, said Jason Christ.

"I've never heard a complaint that we shouldn't allow out-of-state people to get a medical marijuana card," Christ said. "Now those people are left without recourse."

 
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