Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer on Wednesday vetoed a bill that would have repealed the state's 7-year-old, voter-approved law legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.
Schweitzer's veto came as state lawmakers continued work on an alternative bill to tighten regulation of medical marijuana in the state, where 30,000 residents carry cards allowing them to lawfully use marijuana as treatment for one ailment or another.
Critics of the law, approved as a ballot measure by voters in 2004, say the statute has been abused by some as a pretext for recreational pot smoking and even for illegal drug trade.
"The good intentions of Montana voters has been made a mockery by the system that's grown up in this state in the last year and a half," said state Senator Jeff Essmann, a chief sponsor of the regulation bill.
Last month, federal agents raided marijuana greenhouses and dispensaries in 13 cities across Montana in a crackdown that federal prosecutors said was aimed at supposed medical pot suppliers who were engaged in large-scale drug trafficking.
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