Montana District Judge James Reynolds ordered medical marijuana dispensaries to be re-opened in December 2016. The state Senate is now passing legislation to fix language to achieve the same ends, while rebuking the judge. Pictured: A green cross directs customers to the entrance of The Health Center, a cannabis dispensary in Denver. (Vince Chandler, Denver Post file)

Montana Senate agrees to fix medical marijuana law, two months after judge re-opened dispensaries

Bill says the state constitution's separation of powers provisions "were disregarded" when judge acted

HELENA, Mont. — The Montana Senate has endorsed a watered-down rebuke of the state’s court system for allegedly overstepping its powers.

The bill fixes a mistake in a voter-approved medical marijuana initiative to make it effective immediately. The original bill accused a Helena judge of violating the state constitution when he did the same thing by court order late last year.

The bill did not name District Judge James Reynolds, but House of Representatives changed the language to eliminate any reference to him. The measure now says the constitution’s separation of powers provisions “were disregarded.”

Republican Sen. Fred Thomas of Stevensville says the amended measure says the same thing “in a kinder, gentler way.”

The Senate approved the changes 30-20 Tuesday and the bill is up for a final vote on Wednesday.