Montana MM Group Collects 46,000 Signatures

In 2004, Montana citizens voted in favor of I-148, The Montana Medical Marijuana Allowance Measure, a bill that legalized marijuana use and sale for some medical purposes. By 2010, over 27,000 people in Montana were listed as patients, a number that was apparently too many for the Montana state legislature. This spring, Senate Bill 423 was passed by the state house and senate – without a public vote and without the signature of Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer – which repealed the the medical marijuana act. And now a large group of citizens is fighting back.

Patients for Reform-Not Repeal has collected over 46,000 signatures from Montana residents who don’t appreciate having their votes overturned. Parts of SB 423, which was created by Jeff Essmann (R-Billings), have already been blocked by a judge in Helena, Montana for infringing on constitutional rights.

Patients for Reform – Not Repeal represents an expanding statewide coalition of Montanans who agree on one thing: Voters passed Montana’s medical marijuana law in the first place, so voters should have the final say on any changes that are going to be made to it.

We all understand that Montana’s medical marijuana program needs better regulation and enforcement, and there are many areas to be improved upon. While we believe in reform, we do not believe that it is right to repeal a voter initiative without seeking voter approval.

The group is taking a moderate approach which uses the democratic process to force their voices to be heard.

SB 423, Essmann’s bill, made it nearly impossible for patients with a debilitating disease to obtain medical marijuana. The bill makes it extremely difficult for doctors to prescribe MM, investigates doctors who prescribe it too often, limits marijuana providers to no more than three patients each, and prevents marijuana providers from accepting anything of value in exchange for services or products. So: the bill discourages doctors from prescribing MM, and completely removes the incentive for most marijuana providers to, you know, provide marijuana. All of this in direct opposition to the way Montana’s citizens have voted.

As of the beginning of this month, the office of the Montana Secretary of State had counted 26,778 of the signatures collected by Reform – Not Repeal. That number is enough to place their resolution on the state ballot in November of 2012. It’s a bit of a hot topic in Montana these days, the state PBS station has even created a documentary on the subject.

IR 124 would work as a reform bill, limiting the potential for abuse of a medical marijuana act, but not squashing the ability of patients to obtain needed medicine or the businesses growing to supply them. Most importantly, it would be an example of due process prevailing, of justice and democracy in action. For more detailed information, see the Patients for Reform-Not Repeal web site or the actual bills in question.

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Author: Rib

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