2015 legislature fails to improve below-average medical marijuana law


Last update: July 27, 2015


Two modest bills that would have made changes to Montana’s largely unworkable medical marijuana program were introduced during the Montana Legislature’s session in 2015; however, neither emerged from committee. Another two bills that would have helped veterans by adding PTSD as a qualifying medical condition were also considered; unfortunately, they also failed to advance. Sadly, all signs are that legislators remain uninterested in making improvements to the state’s 11-year-old program.

If there was a bright spot to this year’s session, it was that the legislature also failed to roll back protections. One such effort would have prohibited state agencies from making any rule in support of a legalization ballot initiative, should voters decide to end marijuana prohibition in Montana. Another would have made it illegal for the state to make any law concerning controlled substances that is inconsistent with federal law. Neither one of these misguided efforts to work around the will of voters succeeded.

Legalization is moving forward across the U.S. with Western states leading the way. Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Colorado have already legalized marijuana for adults 21 and over. Please take a moment to tell your legislators it is time for Montana to end the failed policy of prohibition.


Montana’s marijuana laws; efforts to change them


In Montana, possession of even a single joint for non-medical purposes can land a person in jail for six months, while possession of 60 grams or more (a little over two ounces) can result in a sentence of up to five years. These stiff marijuana penalties cause related negative consequences.

In 2012, there were 1,502 arrests or citations for marijuana-related offenses, 95% of which were for possession. The number of marijuana arrests more than tripled since 2003. At the same time, law enforcement was unable to solve 91% of all burglaries — including home invasions — and over 85% of all motor vehicle thefts. Instead of arresting adults for possession of a product that is safer than alcohol, law enforcement should focus its limited resources on going after real criminals. It’s past time for a better solution. Ask your legislators to support reducing the penalty for possession of cannabis to a civil fine.

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