Medical marijuana was legalized in Montana in 2004 and by 2011 the state saw over 30,000 registerd patients and 4,800 providers. State officials feared a recreational black market, so they closed many of the dispensaries and nearly shut down the program. Since the almost fatal halt to the industry, legislators have worked to ban certain practices like not allowing medical marijuana dispensaries to profit. One questionable practice was upheld forcing providers to limit themselves to only three patients, severely lmiiting the newly growing market. The legislation was also meant to put pressure on doctors and call for a review for every 25 medical marijuana patient recommendations. Since the rebirth of the industry there are now nearly 14,000 registered patients and 471 providers.
A booming black-market industry emerged that led to widespread recreational use, state officials said. Then, federal authorities raided large medical marijuana providers and growing facilities across the state, effectively shutting down the industry and prompting the 2011 restrictions by state lawmakers.
The legal fight that ensued has gone to the state Supreme Court twice. Medical marijuana advocates argued that providers would disappear if they had to give away the drug for free, leaving vulnerable and ill patients who can't grow their own without a way to get the drug.