Last Montana Bill To Regulate Marijuana Stalls
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Last Montana Bill To Regulate Marijuana Stalls
Posted by CN Staff on March 30, 2011 at 07:02:05 PT
By Charles S. Johnson, Missoulian State Bureau 
Source: Missoulian
Helena, MT --  The fate of the Legislature's lone surviving bill to impose stricter regulations on Montana's booming medical marijuana industry suddenly was cast into doubt Tuesday.The Senate was forced to postpone its scheduled debate Tuesday on Senate Bill 423, by Sen. Jeff Essmann, R-Billings, so the bill will come to the floor Wednesday.
The delay now will force the Senate to obtain a supermajority vote - or 34 of the 50 senators' votes - instead of a simple majority vote - or 26 votes - to pass Senate Bill 423 to send it to the House by Wednesday's deadline.The Senate needs only a simple majority Wednesday for the first vote on SB423. However, it will have to waive its rules and obtain a supermajority vote to take the second vote on the same day. The two votes are supposed to be taken in two separate days.Suddenly, 17 senators from the Democratic minority, or any combination of SB423 opponents, can stop it from reaching the House on time, effectively killing the bill. Republicans have a 28-22 margin over Democrats in the Senate.If that happens, the Legislature likely will come empty-handed in imposing strict regulations on a medical marijuana industry that critics contend has spun out of control in Montana. This was considered one of the major issues facing the Legislature.Or it might give Senate Democrats some leverage to negotiate a deal with Republicans on other legislation.The reasons for the complications involve both legislative rules and deadlines.First, the Senate has not yet received a report known as a "fiscal note" from the governor's budget office outlining the financial impacts of SB423. By rule, the Senate cannot debate and vote on a bill requiring a fiscal note if it hasn't received the note.The fiscal note is due six days after it was requested. That deadline is Wednesday.Senate President Jim Peterson, R-Buffalo, told a Senate Republican caucus that state Budget Director David Ewer had assured him that the fiscal note would be delivered Wednesday.The Senate could have voted on SB423 Tuesday without the fiscal note, but that also would have required a supermajority vote to suspend the rules.Instead, the Senate Republican leaders decided to postpone the vote by a day and take both the second- and third-reading votes in the same day, requiring rules to be waived.Wednesday is the deadline for the Senate to send all of its revenue bills to the House, and vice versa. If the Senate doesn't send SB423 to the House by Wednesday, the bill automatically dies.SB423 is classified as a revenue bill because it would charge licensing fees for those growing and delivering medical marijuana.The fate of SB423 was uncertain.Some senators prefer an outright repeal of the state's voter-passed 2004 law that legalized medical marijuana for medical purposes. House Bill 161, by Speaker Mike Milburn, R-Cascade, passed the House, but deadlocked in the Senate Judiciary Committee 6-6.That led Judiciary Chairman Terry Murphy, R-Cardwell, to appoint a three-member subcommittee to quickly draft an alternative regulation bill.The new bill would repeal the current medical marijuana law as of July 1, as Milburn's bill did.Essmann's bill, however, then sets up a plan to impose strict regulations on the medical marijuana industry, with the expressed goal of making it much harder for people with severe and chronic pain to obtain medical marijuana cards.The only other major bill remaining is HB175, by Rep. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, which would ask voters in 2012 whether they want to repeal or keep the medical marijuana law.At a Democratic caucus Tuesday, senators appeared divided over Essmann's bill.Sen. Larry Jent, D-Bozeman, said he voted against the bill in the Judiciary Committee because of the "whacky provision" assigning the PSC the licensing duties.Another Judiciary member, Sen. Anders Blewett, D-Great Falls, said that while the bill isn't perfect, it's the only bill remaining to regulate the industry. He said Montanans are "a heck of a lot more likely" to vote against the repeal if the Legislature puts some regulations in place.Sen. Cliff Larsen, D-Missoula, who served on the subcommittee, said Gov. Brian Schweitzer can issue an amendatory veto to fix the bill if there are still problems after it passes.Sen. Mary Caferro, D-Helena, said she doesn't think it would be bad to have the repeal referendum on the ballot in 2012."I don't think we should underestimate this voting bloc," she said of medical marijuana users.Source: Missoulian (MT) Author: Charles S. Johnson, Missoulian State Bureau Published: March 29, 2011Copyright: 2011 Missoulian Contact: oped missoulian.comWebsite URL: Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on March 30, 2011 at 12:18:11 PT
Konagold, Thank You!
I have it posted now!URL:
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Comment #5 posted by konagold on March 30, 2011 at 11:41:49 PT
attn FOM good news
Pot Politics on Capitol Hill: Proponents Aim to Shift Industry's Image of decriminalizing marijuana are hoping to build momentum on Capitol Hill after a historic election that saw the politics of pot take center stage in four states..
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VIDEO: Cannabis Cafe in Portland, Oregon serves up medicinal marijuana.
Watch: Smoking Up at the Marijuana CafeThe marijuana industry's public relations campaign has so far been limited to states, especially California, where a ballot initiative to legalize weed failed in November.But today, the National Cannabis Industry Association, launched in December to represent the interests of legal marijuana growers and distributors, will hold the first congressional lobbying day in the nation's capital, hoping to shore up support for an industry they say could bring billions of dollars in revenue to the government.The industry already has some notable lawmakers on its side.Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., has in the past introduced legislation to remove federal penalties for personal use of marijuana. Libertarian-leaning Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, is also an outspoken advocate of full marijuana legalization.Last summer, Frank and 15 other lawmakers sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner asking his agency to set rules that provide financial services to medical marijuana dispensaries and to assure banks they won't be penalized for conducting such business.Today's lobbying efforts will focus on eliminating such restrictions and on easing the tax burden on medical marijuana clinics.Supporters of decriminalizing marijuana say it will help the United States in the long term by boosting profits for the government. Socially, they say it will boost resources to crack down on hard drugs and will curb teen marijuana use, which is on the rise."Deregulation will absolutely succeed in keeping it out of the hands of kids more effectively than prohibition because prohibition has created a large underground market," Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., told ABC News. "If you legalize it just like we have with alcohol, you will have a much better control."It would really provide America with a leg up on the drug war by preventing the marijuana engine that fuels the coffers of the [Mexican drug] cartels," he said. "You have more resources to crack down on hard drugs."Others also tout its economic benefits.According to a recent report by an analyst firm See Change Strategy, the national market for medical marijuana is worth $1.7 billion in 2011 and could reach $8.9 billion in five years. The black market, the report stated, is estimated at $18 billion. In California, cannabis is the biggest cash crop, worth $14 billion in sales, nearly double the state's second biggest revenue generator, dairy.Forty-six percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana, a new high, according to a survey conducted by Gallup in October. The trend has shifted upward in recent decades while opposition to such a move has declined.For medical marijuana use, the support is even higher. Seventy percent of Americans said they favored making marijuana for medicinal purposes legally available."It's going to take a number of years to reach a point when there's a broad consensus that marijuana prohibition should end but it will come," said Steve Fox, NCIA's director of public affairs. "When you look at the demographics in terms of polling, it's clear that the older generations are opposed to the legal cannabis market, but the younger generations are more strongly in favor. It's really just a matter of time before support outweighs the opposition."But as proponents admit, it could be some time before lawmakers are high on the idea of loosening up federal standards for marijuana.Polis says there are informal discussions among his peers and a possible bill liberalizing marijuana laws gains more support in every session, but it could be several more sessions before legislation is passed.Even in states with liberal marijuana laws, full legalization has yet to gain steam. Proposition 19 in California failed in November despite heavy lobbying. In early 2010, the Washington state legislature struck down a marijuana-legalization bill that was introduced in Washington.Medical marijuana is currently legal in 15 states and Washington, D.C. 
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on March 30, 2011 at 09:50:37 PT
I am glad that Dems do pay attention to the power of marijuana activists.
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Comment #3 posted by josephlacerenza on March 30, 2011 at 09:31:04 PT
Great Quote
Sen. Mary Caferro, D-Helena, said she doesn't think it would be bad to have the repeal referendum on the ballot in 2012."I don't think we should underestimate this voting bloc," she said of medical marijuana users.1000% I agree, These politicians are going to have to look out!! They will be VOTED out!!! They will be REPEALED!!!
Montana Botanical Analysis Lab, Montana Biotech
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Comment #2 posted by dongenero on March 30, 2011 at 09:24:49 PT
'Insider' Is Charged at FDA 
If only cannabis was a publicly traded stock, the debate would be over."A longtime chemist at the Food and Drug Administration was charged Tuesday with insider trading by federal authorities, who alleged he made as much as $3.6 million trading drug company stocks based on confidential drug-approval information." snipped
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Comment #1 posted by Sam Adams on March 30, 2011 at 07:53:57 PT
good news
suddenly the patient is alive and has a pulse - freedom is on life support, but has a fighting chance!  It sounds like a lot of people got through to their legislators.
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