2012 Voters To Decide Fate of New Medical Pot Law
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2012 Voters To Decide Fate of New Medical Pot Law
Posted by CN Staff on October 03, 2011 at 20:28:59 PT
By Charles S. Johnson, Gazette State Bureau
Source: Billings Gazette
Helena, MT -- The secretary of state's office said Monday that medical-marijuana advocates have collected enough signatures to let voters next year retain or reject the stricter law, passed earlier this year by the Legislature, regulating the industry.A group called Patients for Reform -- Not Repeal led the successful petition effort to put the new medical marijuana law on the November 2012 ballot.
Secretary of State Linda McCulloch's office already had tabulated 26,778 signatures through Monday in support of the referendum and said 5 percent of the registered voters in 49 of the 100 state House districts had signed it. Those totals exceeded the minimum requirements of 24,337 signatures and 5 percent of the voters in at least 34 House districts.Meanwhile, a separate effort to have a referendum on the 2011 revision of Montana's eminent domain law apparently fell far short of qualifying. Backers conceded last week they lacked sufficient signatures to qualify. As of Monday, the secretary of state's office had tabulated just 3,082 signatures and it qualified in three legislative districtsThe deadline to turn in signatures to county election officials was Friday. The counties must turn in their tallies to the secretary of state's office by late October.In a statement, Patients for Reform -- Not Repeal said it had collected more than 46,000 signatures and met the 5 percent minimum in more than 60 House districts. It said county election offices have processed slightly more than 33,000 of the 46,000-plus signatures.However, the group failed to meet a higher threshold of signatures to suspend the 2011 law immediately until voters decide its fate next year. They would need signatures by at least 15 percent of registered voters in at least 51 legislative districts."We are thrilled that our volunteers collected over 46,000 signatures and we are seeing so many House districts fall into place," said Rose Habib of Missoula, the group's volunteer coordinator. "We are all proud to have been part of making history in Montana."At issue is Senate Bill 423, by Sen. Jeff Essmann, R-Billings, which repealed the voter-passed 2004 initiative legalizing the use of marijuana for some medical purposes and put in place tighter restrictions. The law makes it harder for people to get medical marijuana cards and squeezes the profits out of the industry, saying suppliers can't advertise or sell the drug.Essmann's bill came after the number of medical marijuana cardholders in Montana skyrocketed from about 4,000 in September 2009 to more than 27,000 in December 2010. The number peaked at more than 31,000 in May, but dropped to about 26,500 in August.The Montana Cannabis Industry Association and others challenged SB423 in District Court in Helena. Parts of SB423 were temporarily blocked by a Helena district judge in late June. Both the association and the attorney general's office are appealing portions of District Judge James Reynolds' decision to the Montana Supreme Court."This new program does not work," said Sarah Baugh of Helena, a patient and spokeswoman for Patients for Reform -- Not Repeal. "Seriously ill patients are having trouble getting access to their medicine in the wake of SB423."The eminent domain law that passed this year said that any company that had acquired a certificate under the state Major Facility Siting Act to build a transmission line can exercise the power of eminent domain to condemn property. The ability to do that had been called into question by a 2010 state District Court decision in Cut Bank.Eminent domain is the authority to condemn property for a defined "public use" such as an electric power line, pipeline, railroad or highway.Source: Billings Gazette, The (MT)Author: Charles S. Johnson, Gazette State Bureau Published:   October 3, 2011Copyright: 2011 The Billings GazetteContact: speakup billingsgazette.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives 
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Comment #1 posted by Oleg the tumor on October 04, 2011 at 08:32:40 PT:
Speaking of elections in 2012…
Until things get hashed out at the federal level, how can anything be settled at the local level? As people gather to protest against Wall Street and corporate interests in New York and other cities, the interviewers are asking the questions, "why are you here? What are you trying to accomplish?"  There aren't a lot of easy answers. They're not trying to overthrow "The Establishment", there already is an established establishment, but people aren't sure how it works, even when it is working correctly, let alone how to fix it when it's not. Most young workers today see the deductions from their pay for Social Security as "pickles down the rat hole", that money is lost to them-they don't expect to see any benefits from the SSA in their lifetime-so they protest the lack of opportunity they see in the decades ahead. A few years ago the US could've gotten into the solar panel business, but we waited too long. Now that China is flooding the market with cheap photovoltaic cells, there is no future for photovoltaics in the United States. Just what the economy needs. We need to go "green", but we also need to stimulate job production if we really expect to keep this country going. Why all of this on a cannabis news website?
Because cannabis is one of the larger elephants in the room that no one cares talk about on TV. Those people protesting on Wall Street? They want the freedom to produce and pursue value according to the promise set forth in Our Constitution: "… Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness…" and it's not happening. 2012 is the year we must make a federal case out of cannabis. Whoever runs for president this time should be questioned at length on their reviews for cannabis normalization and tax revenue reform. As baby boomers age and turn to Social Security for greater percentage of their income, the question must be asked: how much Social Security money will be spent on illegal cannabis by baby boomers in their retirement over the next 20-30 years? As protesters in New York cry out for a future, vast amounts of taxes go uncollected on an industry that is not allowed to exist, not allowed to employ, not allowed to contribute.
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