Montana lawmakers back in session as medical marijuana program recovers

 

Last update: February 6, 2017

 

Supporters of Montana’s medical marijuana program won a big victory last November, when 57% of voters voted to expand the state system. Previous legislative efforts to limit or even kill the medical marijuana program have long been the subject of challenges both in the courts and at the polls. The most recent vote would allow the state to finally establish what is has long lacked — a clear system for licensing and inspecting businesses and critical protections for those who work at medical marijuana provider businesses.

Lawmakers are now back in session, and it is our hope that they are more willing to adopt sensible provisions that help patients and those who provide to them and not simply find new ways to introduce new challenges. In the meantime, patients who were forced out of the program last year are returning, with nearly 10,000 patients registered as of the end of January.

Stay tuned as the state medical marijuana program once again gets on its feet. For a closer look at the current law, click here.


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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