An initiative aimed at expanding the availability of medical marijuana in Montana was certified for the November ballot Wednesday after supporters gathered more than 24,000 signatures in 58 days reports the Missoulian. Montana’s I-182 would reverse new restrictions going into effect on August 31 that limit medical marijuana providers to just three patients, eliminating access for more than 12,000 Montanans.
The restrictions are the result of legislative and legal action that gutted the 2004 voter-approved law, passed with a 64 percent majority, legalizing marijuana for medical use. Medical marijuana providers would be unable to sustain viable businesses if the restrictions go into effect, said Jeff Krauss, treasurer for Montana Citizens for I-182.
“I just don’t think there are that many good Samaritans out there,” Krauss said. “It’s really saying cancer patients or MS sufferers have to learn to grow medical marijuana and research what plants help which diseases most. It’s really a return to prohibition.”
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Krauss said I-182 would lift those bans, but would also require providers to obtain licenses and submit to unannounced, yearly inspections. It would allow for product testing to ensure safety, consistency and accurate dosages. And it would allow sales of medical marijuana to veterans and other patients diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. “We’re not just rolling back to the laws we had before,” Krauss said. “It’s an improved law.”
“Chemotherapy takes such a physical and mental toll on me,” Mazurek said. “Some days are hard and medical marijuana helps me to deal with the side effects of the chemo.”
Signatures also are being gathered by Safe Montana to put a second initiative on the November ballot. This one would repeal the state’s medical marijuana program entirely.
Mazurek said she finds the idea of a total repeal offensive.
“I don’t think they understand what their legislation will do to sick people like me,” Mazurek said. “I would urge people to look very closely at any legislation that’s coming up so they understand it. I think I-182 has safer access and I would encourage anyone to get educated on what the options are.”
If both initiatives make it onto the November ballot and both pass, the future of medical marijuana in the state is likely to end up in court.
This story was first published on the Missoulian.
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