Article By Steve Elliott of Toke of the Town
Letting the voters decide? What a concept.
If you're a resident of Montana, you may believe you already sent a pretty clear signal to the state's politicians in 2004, when voters overwhelmingly approved the legalization of medical marijuana in a 62 percent to 38 percent rout. Let's just assume some politicians are slow learners.
As legislators talk over repealing or amending the state's medical marijuana law -- effectively thwarting the will of the voters -- one lawmaker from Kalispell wants to give Montanans another chance to vote on the issue, reports Charles S. Johnson at the Billings Gazette.
"Even good golfers use a mulligan now and again," said Rep. Keith Regier, referring to a golfer's do-over.
The House Human Services Committee had a short hearing Monday on his House Bill 175, which would ask voters in November 2012 whether they are for or against repealing the Montana Medical Marijuana Act.
Since the fall of 2009, when the Obama Administration announced it would no longer make it a priority to go after providers and patients abiding by state medical marijuana laws, the number of cardholding patients in Montana has skyrocketed to more than 28,300.
Under HB 175, the version of the law that contains any modifications made by the 2011 Legislature would go before the voters, who would decide whether to keep it or repeal it.
Bruce Scharf, one of Montana's first 300 cardholders, said medical marijuana has helped him better function.
"If the repeal was to take place, it would hurt so many patients and the quality of their lives," Scharf said. "We just need to tweak the regulations and get it back under control."
The committee took no immediate action on the bill on Monday.
Missoula City Council Opposes Medical Marijuana Repeal
Meanwhile, at a heavily-attended Monday meeting, the Missoula City Council made it clear they do not support a repeal of the state's medical marijuana law, reports Matt Leach at NBC Montana.
Mayor John Engen took the lead speaking out against HB 161, which would kill medical marijuana in the state. "I don't think repeal is the answer," Mayor Engen said.
"This is something that was approved by the voters of the city by over a three-to-one margin," said Jason Wiener, who authored the resolution to oppose repeal.
"A citizen's initiative has never been repealed by the state Legislature," Wiener said.
After almost two hours of discussion by the council and the public, the resolution passed the Missoula City Council by a vote of nine to three.