Medical marijuana initiative makes ballot
Last update: July 21, 2016
The Montana Secretary of State approved I-182 for the November ballot this year, giving Montana voters an opportunity to repair the state’s medical marijuana program. The measure would both re-establish patient access to medical marijuana providers and create a more regulated system. It would allow providers to serve more than three patients and would require both licensing and regular inspections from agency officials. The voter initiative is in response to a recent Montana Supreme Court decision that imposes the full weight of a 2011 law passed by state lawmakers in an effort to make the medical marijuana system as burdensome as possible — long referred to as “repeal in disguise.”
Several other marijuana-related measures did not make the ballot. Two were aimed at allowing voters to adopt a system to tax and regulate marijuana for adults 21 and older. A third, prohibitionist measure would have banned marijuana unless rescheduled by the federal government, but it also fell short of the number of signatures needed.
Changes imposed by the supreme court ruling went into effect September 1, and state officials estimate that about 10,000 patients will be denied access to medical marijuana until the law can be changed. The current law is a huge disservice to seriously ill patients, and they deserve reasonable access. You can visit the voter initiative campaign website here for more information.
Montana’s harsh marijuana laws and 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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