In Montana, A Bid To End Medical Use Of Marijuana
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In Montana, A Bid To End Medical Use Of Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on February 11, 2011 at 06:11:03 PT
By Kirk Johnson
Source: New York Times
Helena, MT -- The Montana House of Representatives voted Thursday to repeal the state’s six-year-old medical marijuana law. The 63-to-37 vote, largely along party lines in the Republican-controlled chamber, pushed Montana to the front lines of a national debate about social policy, economics and health as medical marijuana use has surged in the 15 states and the District of Columbia that allow its use. “We were duped,” said the House speaker, Mike Milburn, a Republican and sponsor of the repeal bill, who said he thought that the arguments about medical use had been a pretext for encouraging recreational use and creating a path to full legalization. He said he feared gang drug wars in Montana’s cities and debilitation of its youth.
“This bill says, Shut down everything — it’s gone way too far,” Mr. Milburn told the chamber before the vote. The State Senate, also controlled by the Republicans, will also consider the measure, and House members will have an opportunity to vote on it again as early as Friday before sending it there. If passed by the Senate it would face an uncertain fate on the desk of Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat. Mr. Schweitzer has said he believes the laws need to be tightened, but he has not taken a position on repeal. His spokeswoman, Sarah Elliott, said in an e-mail, “The business has gotten out ahead of the regulatory environment, and we need to build some boundaries.” But in the voices of the lawmakers on Thursday, the weight and passion of the issue were evident. “We tried prohibition,” said Representative Diane Sands, a Democrat. “Marijuana has been in our community for years; it is not going away,” she added. “We have to deal with that fact.” Other states and cities are also wrestling with the question of what medical marijuana is, or should be. New Mexico’s new Republican governor, Susana Martinez, expressed interest in repeal this year. Colorado is formulating some of the most detailed rules in the nation for growing and selling. Lawmakers in New Jersey have jousted with the governor over regulation. And although party line positions have defined the issue in Montana, with Republicans mostly lined up in favor of restriction or repeal, there is widespread agreement among legislators and residents that medical marijuana has become something very different than it was originally envisioned to be. Sixty-two percent of voters approved the use of medical marijuana in a statewide referendum in 2004. But the real explosion of growth came only in the last year, after the federal Department of Justice said in late 2009 that medical marijuana would not be a law enforcement priority. Since then, the numbers of patients have quadrupled to more than 27,000 — in a state of only about 975,000 people — and millions of dollars have been invested in businesses that grow or supply the product. Here in Helena, at least 16 other bills in addition to the repeal measure have been filed or drafted since the legislative session began last month, calling for everything from a marijuana tax to another voter referendum. “I’ve lobbied every session since ’81, and I’ve never seen an issue as fluid as this,” said Tom Daubert, an advocate for medical marijuana and an author of the 2004 ballot measure. “It changes by the minute, by the hour, by the day.” But in a huge, mostly rural state where a libertarian, keep-government-off-my-back spirit runs deep, the debate is also different in temper and geography than in other states. Marijuana, many people here say, has intensified suspicions between the two Montanas that are zipped together by the Rocky Mountains — conservative ranching and agriculture country to the east, liberal college towns and tourist communities to the west. The change in the pattern and scale of medical marijuana use across Montana has coincided with a seismic change in politics here, where Republicans surged from a 50-50 tie in the House before last November’s election to a 68-to-32 majority now. Republicans have a 28-to-22 majority in the Senate. Several House members who spoke against repeal said the Legislature, by declining in past years to take up bills that would have regulated or controlled medical marijuana when its use was not so widespread, had only itself to blame. “We had many years to regulate something that 62 percent of Montanans wanted, and we chose to do nothing,” said Representative Pat Noonan, a Democrat. “Don’t vote against the citizens.” A version of this article appeared in print on February 11, 2011, on page A13 of the New York edition.Source: New York Times (NY)Author: Kirk JohnsonPublished: February 11, 2011Copyright: 2011 The New York Times CompanyContact: letters nytimes.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #10 posted by josephlacerenza on February 12, 2011 at 05:03:48 PT:
Medical Marijuana in Montana
It is a nail bitter here in Montana. Cannabis cultivation and services surrounding the medical marijuana movement appears to be the only sector in the economy growing!!! There is a lot of money at stake. The larger caregivers/providers have said time again, that they have too much invested to just walk away from their businesses.The governor of MT is a Dem. he has came out in favor of MMJ. The only concern is if the Reps can put together enough votes to over ride his veto. The House and Senate have Rep. majorities. If you have been watching, the Rep have gotten repeal out of committee on strictly partisan voting. Montana Biotech is committed to helping in any way we can.
THC Potency Testing Lab in Montana
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Comment #9 posted by dongenero on February 11, 2011 at 09:44:51 PT
Is there a score card for the sponsors of the legislation that the Republican Governors vetoed?
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Comment #8 posted by dongenero on February 11, 2011 at 09:43:04 PT
So Republican Governors have vetoed medical marijuana in 40% of the North Eastern states that had passed medical marijuana legislation?Despicable.
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Comment #7 posted by Sam Adams on February 11, 2011 at 08:26:34 PT
the governors in CT and NH have vetoed medical MJ.Here's the New England scorecard:RI - has medical MJ lawMaine - has medical MJ lawVT - has medical MJ lawCT - both houses passed law, vetoed by Republican gov.NH - both house passed law, vetoed by Republican gov.Mass. - Not one legislative committee has approved medical MJ since 1995, the first step of about 6 or 7 required for passageAs I posted the Dems hold 90% plus of the state legislature. In the other states the Republicans have at least 1/3rd of the seats.Take a good look at Massachusetts if you want to know what Democrats do on drug policy when they have total control of the system.And this is what we see nationally as well on many progressive issues such as foreign wars and militarism. The Dems do nothing when they have control, then when the Repubs take over they start protesting like crazy.
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Comment #6 posted by Sam Adams on February 11, 2011 at 08:19:27 PT
an explanation
DG, your response is hints at exactly the phenomenon I'm talking about.You see, in my state, the Republicans are running scared. Believe it or not, the Democrats have over 90% of the seats in our state legislature. So the Republicans are nowhere. A Republican governor can't even veto anything because they'll be easily overridden.So, how are we doing on medical marijuana laws in this Democratic paradise?There are 6 states in New England. Both houses of the state legislature in all 5 other states have passed a medical MJ law. Only a governor's veto in CT and NJ stopped their bills from becoming law.And in Democratic Massachusetts? The medical MJ bill has not even moved out of its first committee in 15 years. In fact, one could argue very persuasively that this legislature is THE most hostile to medical MJ in the entire US.So, from what I see here where I live and get policed by the local thugs, when the Dems get control, they squash medical MJ as hard as they can. But they're happy to vote for medical MJ and score some points with progressives when they know a Republican will veto it later.And I would encourage those who wish to live under an entirely Democratic regime to move here! You too can enjoy all the oppression, the chronic corruption, it's really wondeful.
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Comment #5 posted by dongenero on February 11, 2011 at 07:42:43 PT
to Sam
I guess you refer to the prohibition comment by Sen Diane Sands (D-MT)?She has voted for the MMJ expansion bill and for a decriminalization bill in MT. She appears to be consistently supportive of MMJ and patients and consistently against repeal of the MMJ program.Opinions and openness to prohibition reform are gaining favor constantly. I can see where Dems should be against prohibition based on their social liberalism. I can see where Republicans should be against prohibition based on their dubious anti-government and personal responsibility positions. My money's on the Dems as far as ending marijuana prohibition.
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Comment #4 posted by TroutMask on February 11, 2011 at 07:31:52 PT
Sometimes nothing is better than something.
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Comment #3 posted by dongenero on February 11, 2011 at 07:29:40 PT
"......pushed Montana to the front lines of a national debate about social policy,......"I would say it pushed Montana to the front lines of a national debate on whether self-righteous Republicans are for or against Democracy and the Democratic process of a voting electorate.Big Government Montana???......amazing.
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Comment #2 posted by Sam Adams on February 11, 2011 at 07:06:23 PT
just an observation
it's interesting to me that the Democrats only come out criticizing prohibition when the Republicans are running the show.Of course the Dems had control of the legislature for all those years MJ was prohibited and did nothing.
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Comment #1 posted by 1RastaWarrior on February 11, 2011 at 06:32:11 PT
"And on the 8th day, God looked down and said "Ahh, there's pot everywhere, now I have to make Republicans."Bill Hicks
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