Governor Vetoes Repeal of Medical Marijuana Law
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Governor Vetoes Repeal of Medical Marijuana Law
Posted by CN Staff on April 14, 2011 at 06:15:21 PT
By Charles S. Johnson of The Missoulian
Source: Missoulian
Helena, MT --  Gov. Brian Schweitzer on Wednesday vetoed the bill that would have repealed Montana's medical marijuana law, calling it draconian and contrary to the will of the state voters who approved it in 2004. Schweitzer pointed to the 2004 medical marijuana ballot initiative, which 62 percent of Montana voters approved."There were many people out there who said there is a medicine out there that is not currently legal," Schweitzer said at a veto ceremony in the governor's reception room at the Capitol.
The medical marijuana bill was not among the bills the governor vetoed at a public ceremony before a large crowd outside the Capitol, where he used different-sized branding irons that said "VETO" to brand planks of wood to signal some other vetoes. (See related story.)In an interview afterward, Schweitzer added, "I'm not a doctor, but we have heard from doctors and patients that this medicine helps them. Do we need 28,000 (medical marijuana) patients? I doubt it."Schweitzer did say he hopes he can support one of the two remaining bills still alive - Senate Bill 423 and SB193 - to impose stricter regulations on the medical marijuana industry."There are a couple of bills that are still alive that would limit the number of patients, would limit the number of caregivers, would take the profit motive out of medical cannabis and would make sure that it doesn't end up on our streets," he said.Schweitzer's veto of House Bill 161 by House Speaker Mike Milburn, R-Cascade, essentially kills the measure, which would have made Montana the first of the 15 states and the District of Columbia enacting medical marijuana laws to repeal it. Based on earlier House and Senate votes, it appears unlikely that HB161 can muster the two-thirds majorities in both chambers to override the governor's veto.Milburn said he was disappointed but not surprised by the veto. He said he believes a growing majority of Montanans support repealing the law."With all the problems we've seen in the schools and in the communities, they're coming around more and more wanting just to get rid of this, so I think it's too bad that the governor was not in tune with what Montana wants, but it was expected," Milburn said.Critics and even some supporters have said Montana's medical marijuana industry has careened out of control since the Obama administration's Justice Department announced in October 2009 that enforcement of federal marijuana laws would not be a priority in terms of medical marijuana users in states where it had been approved.The number of medical marijuana cardholders in Montana skyrocketed from 3,921 in September 2009 to 29,948 as of last month. Within the past year, "cannabis caravans" went city to city to sign up hundreds of patients. In some cases, people saw doctors for less than 10 minutes and sometimes without seeing a doctor in person but over the Internet.Last month, federal and state law enforcement officials raided medical pot growing operations in 13 communities as part of their investigation into marijuana trafficking and distribution. No charges have been filed yet.One of the authors of the 2004 initiative, Tom Daubert of Patients and Families United, praised Schweitzer's veto."Patients are very grateful for this veto, but deeply worried about SB423, which we see as a ‘repeal in disguise' and whose proponents have made no secret of their goal to achieve a functional repeal," he said. "Polls consistently show that Montanans want the medical marijuana law fixed, with regulation that meets law enforcement and community needs, while also serving patients, rather than arbitrarily obstructing the fulfillment of this compassionate voter-adopted policy."The main bill still in play is SB423 by Sen. Jeff Essmann, R-Billings, which was completely rewritten by the House.On Wednesday, Milburn and Senate President Jim Peterson, R-Buffalo, appointed a House-Senate conference committee to work on the bill.The House appointees are Reps. Tom Berry, R-Roundup; Cary Smith, R-Billings; and Diane Sands, D-Missoula; Senate appointees are Sens. Chas Vincent, R-Libby; Cliff Larsen, D-Missoula; and Essmann.Milburn said he supports SB423 as his second choice to repeal, if it's tightened down further.He said he wants the specific medical conditions for which medical marijuana can be recommended by a doctor to be detailed and restricted in the bill. He also believes that allowing a provider to have up to six marijuana plants to provide medical pot for a patient is excessive.SB423 would impose strict new controls aimed at drastically limiting the number of people eligible for medical marijuana cards. Backers have said they want to cut the number of patients eligible for medical cards to less than 2,000.It attempts to squeeze all money out of the current system by banning growing operations and dispensaries. Instead, it would allow one provider - the new term for caregiver - to grow marijuana for one patient without compensation. A provider could grow marijuana for up to three people, but two would have to be relatives, and the grower couldn't be paid for growing medical pot.The other bill, SB193 by Sen. Gene Vuckovich, D-Anaconda, has yet to pass in either house.It seeks to impose restrictions on the medical marijuana industry, but is being rewritten.Source: Missoulian (MT) Author: Charles S. Johnson of The MissoulianPublished: April 14, 2011Copyright: 2011 Missoulian Contact: oped missoulian.comWebsite URL: Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #3 posted by Garry Minor on April 15, 2011 at 06:55:46 PT
I believe Yeshua/Jesus says it best;   14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:   “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; 
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15 For this people’s heart has become calloused; 
   they hardly hear with their ears,    and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, 
   hear with their ears,    understand with their hearts 
and turn, and I would heal them.’
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Comment #2 posted by Vincent on April 14, 2011 at 12:47:24 PT:
A Prohibitionist knucklehead
"With all the problems we've seen in the schools and in the communities, they're coming around more and more wanting just to get rid of this, so I think it's too bad that the governor was not in tune with what Montana wants, but it was expected".Where does Mike "execute all herb-smokers" Milburn get that garbage from? The MAJORITY of Montanans voted for this law but Mike "Let's take back our State" Milburn doesn't accept it. Kinda like that Simon and Garfunkel song the Boxer:"A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest".
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Comment #1 posted by Dr Ganj on April 14, 2011 at 10:08:24 PT:
Lawmakers, police seek guidance after pot laws quashed
April 13, 2011Jennifer YangLawmakers and enforcers are looking for guidance on how to react to an Ontario Superior Court decision quashing Canada’s marijuana laws.On Monday, a St. Catharines judge ruled the federal medical marijuana program unconstitutional because patients are largely prevented from legally accessing the drugs they need. Justice Donald Taliano also struck down the country’s laws against possessing and producing cannabis, giving Ottawa three months to fix the program before marijuana is effectively legalized.The government is now awaiting direction from the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, said Tim Vail, spokesperson for Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, who is currently running for re-election in Nunavut.“We are disappointed with this decision,” Vail said in an emailed statement. “The independent Public Prosecution Service has to decide whether to appeal this decision.“While the courts have said that there must be reasonable access to marijuana for medical purposes, we believe that this must be done in a controlled fashion to ensure public safety.”Vail added that the government is considering “longer-term measures” to reform the medical marijuana program.The Public Prosecution Service is studying the judge’s decision and has 30 days to appeal the ruling which it is expected to do.In the meantime, the Ontario Provincial Police will continue to enforce marijuana laws — even though they may cease to exist in less than 90 days.“It does create a legal grey zone,” said OPP spokesman Sgt. Pierre Chamberland. “Until that grey zone becomes a black and white, then the legislation remains status quo, and our actions in regards to enforcing the law remain status quo.”In Toronto, police are waiting to consult with federal officials before deciding what impact the court decision will have on front-line drug policing.“We need to read the decision, but also we need to speak with some colleagues in the criminal justice system,” said Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash. “We’ll put out guidance to our officers so (they) know where we stand.”Taliano made his ruling based on findings that Canadian doctors have “massively boycotted” the medical marijuana program.Patients seeking a licence to obtain or grow marijuana for medicinal purposes must first find a doctor to support their application, a near-impossible task that forces sick people to resort to illegal measures, Taliano said in his ruling.Toronto family physician Dr. Tsvi Gallant said most doctors are uneducated about the medicinal properties of marijuana and physicians are largely discouraged by their professional associations from participating in the program.“I know most of my colleagues would refuse to touch it,” Gallant said. “A lot of family physicians will not even want to deal with it in the first place.”Gallant said patients must also renew their medical marijuana licences every year but processing times are glacially slow.“It’s much easier to go to the street and buy it illegally,” said Gallant, who encourages most of his patients to buy cannabis from compassion clubs. “Patients start breaking the law. And it happens again and again and again and again.”
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