Montana: Voters Will Decide In 2012 On Statewide Medical Cannabis Measure

Helena, MT: Montanans next November will decide whether to reinstate the provisions of the 2004 voter-approved medical marijuana initiative.

The measure’s proponents, Patients for Reform–Not Repeal, gathered sufficient signatures from registered voters to place Initiative Referendum 124 (I-124) on the 2012 statewide ballot, a representative from the Secretary of State’s office affirmed this week.

Earlier this year, state lawmakers approved legislation — Senate Bill 423 — amending Montana’s nearly seven-year-old medical marijuana law. The act took effect on July 1.

The intent of SB 423 was to reduce total number of state-qualified medical cannabis patients from an estimated 30,000 to fewer than 2,000. Among its provisions, the new law requires that advising physicians be reported to the state Board of Examiners if they recommend cannabis to more than 25 patients per year. The measure also imposes stricter qualifying requirements for chronic pain patients and prohibits licensed caregivers from receiving any financial compensation for providing cannabis to qualified persons.

Since the enactment of SB 423, the total number of state authorized medical marijuana patients has fallen some 15 percent.

Passage of I-124 would repeal SB 423. Said a spokeswoman for the I-124 campaign: “This new program does not work. … Montanans agree that patients with serious conditions should have access to medical marijuana and that government has no business interfering in medical decisions between those patients and their doctors.”

Senate Bill 423 will remain in effect until next November’s vote.

Voters initially approved Montana’s 2004 medical marijuana law by 62 percent.

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