Skip to main content

Montana Medical Marijuana Law Under Threat

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #671)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

The Republican-dominated Montana House voted last Thursday to overturn the will of the voters and repeal the medical marijuana law created by a 2004 ballot initiative. The measure now moves to the state Senate.

No medical marijuana in Montana? Not quite yet. (Image via Wikimedia)
House Speaker Mike Milburn (R-Cascade), who sponsored the bill, HB 161, said medical marijuana had gone too far in the state and what now exists is beyond what the voters approved. He said the state's medical marijuana law had attracted a criminal element.

"It is starting to undermine the entire fabric of our state," Milburn said during floor debate. "It is time to take back our state and our culture and do what is best for Montana. This bill says shut down everything -- it's gone way too far."

House Democrats argued against a full repeal of the law and blamed the legislature's failure to act to regulate the industry for the explosion in medical marijuana use in the state.

"We had many years to regulate what 62% of voters approved, and did nothing," said Rep. Pat Noonan (D-Butte).

"We tried prohibition once and it didn't work," said Rep. Diane Sands (D-Missoula). "It is not going away," she said of medical marijuana. "It does have a legitimate medical use."

Although repeal passed easily in the House, it faces much tougher prospects in the Senate. While there is general agreement that Montana medical marijuana needs legislative attention, there are several bills that seek to tax or regulate medical marijuana, not recriminalize it.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Badboy7357 (not verified)

How about another ballot vote to allow the citizens choose if the program went to far and should be reversed or if it is still fine with them? Or are they still afraid of the will of the people.

Fri, 02/11/2011 - 6:18pm Permalink
Julian Joiner (not verified)

If it gets fully repealed another ballot initiative will just be passed to replace it and the media mess that will arise from botched raids and underfunded over stretched law enforcement will force a political shift. It is sad this is happening. It is even sadder that it might actually happen. But, the political backlash from this will not be small for the Republicans who are moving to repeal the law. It is odd to think so many politicians are so completely out of touch with the will of the people, especially with record highs supporting cannabis legalization in this country right now. Unfortunately in this situation, they aren't going to be the only ones to suffer because of their nearsightedness and ignorance.

Fri, 02/11/2011 - 7:04pm Permalink
Anon (not verified)

"It is time to take back our state and our culture and do what is best for Montana. This bill says shut down everything—it's gone way too far."

This is a perfect example why America is doomed economically.  There is not much going on in Montana for starters, except medical marijuana, and now these idiots want to "shut down" (Read: push underground) a thriving economic force all because these people see the devil in marijuana.  I wonder if these people think the world is flat?

Jewelry stores draw a "criminal element," so do convenience stores and liquor and all sorts of other retail establishments with high volume business.  These Montana Republicans are just prejudiced haters of marijuana users.

Fri, 02/11/2011 - 11:00pm Permalink

First, I would like to state that I am a licensed medical cannabis user in the great state of Montana.  Due to an allergy to opiates and severe arthritic pain in my knee from a high school sports injury, I am one of the tens of thousands who signed up at the infamous "roaming clinics" with the common complaint of chronic pain.  Somehow, I have become part of the statistics which these hacks are using to try and repeal the law.

When only a few thousand people had cards, before the Obama administration issued their infamous memo, there were no complaints or calls for repeal.  Now that we have over thirty thousand people who have switched from pharmaceuticals or illegal 'marijuana' to legal cannabis, there is a billion dollar industry in this state which is just hitting its stride.  That doesn't even count all the associated industries, like grow suppliers who have seen an exponential growth in business over the past year.

Now, the "conservatives" in government want to take away the tiny bit of freedom we have fought to get because they are afraid its changing the "fabric" of Montana?!  Interesting choice of words, for someone who is obviously ignorant of the most useful fiber in the world--which is also technically now legal to grow in this state, unless you actually try and grow it--in which case the DEA is sure to burn it down and arrest you, if the state authorities don't do it for them first!

For those of you unfamiliar with this particular type of cannabis, I am referring to industrial hemp--which was outlawed back in the 30s because of its similar appearance to 'marihuana'.  Or, if you are less than inclined to trust your government, it was outlawed because recent advanced in technology had allowed the plant to be cut and processed into paper, plastic, fuel, fiber and even food at a cost competitive to existing petroleum, timber, cotton and other industries.

It is obviously easy to dismiss this as fantasy, but think about it this way:  why is our federal government more comfortable with people growing the actual drug in this country than the industrial crop which could be helping us develop sustainable resources and good jobs for our children?  If the Montana legislature wants to do something productive towards solving the "medical marijuana" quagmire, they could start by asking themselves and others this simple question.  

They could also do us all a favor and sit down with the good folks from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, who would be more than happy to show them actual functioning drug policies based on sanity and resulting in much safer, secure and financially sound communities.

Or, do they really think Governor Schweitzer is going to sign a bill which turns over 30,000 taxpaying citizens into criminals and destroys a thriving billion dollar industry?  

Sat, 02/12/2011 - 8:00am Permalink
Truly Liberal … (not verified)

I totally agree with my 'TRULY conservative Montanan' neighbor.  Hi neighbor.  See, there are things that neighbors from different political walks of life CAN AGREE ON!  In this great state of Montana, nothing is more priceless than good neighbors!

Jack Herer, I miss him!  He was a truly conservative person until his girlfriend introduced him to cannabis... then he campaigned and advocated for hemp and cannabis for the rest of his life...RIP

Thu, 02/17/2011 - 11:59am Permalink
mirale medicin… (not verified)

The people in charge have to be complete idiots to not understand what this is doing for the economy,  At first it was a little crazy, after all it was pretty much a gold rush and they did not take that away from the prospectors but they need to understand it will level out and be much calmer it just takes time. it is kind of like when the stock market opens it is just a mad house but are they going to make that illegal to since most of them are criminal after all most people in the senate is criminals as well. I started this because my drywall business was not going so well do to the economy and i know of a hundred other builders that did the same, not all of the people are criminals they are business minded people just trying to make a transition. I think the do not understand how vast this is when it comes down to the grow stores, truckers hauling in merchandise fueling up in our state and eating in our economy. i know of at least 25 dispensary's in flathead valley and none of those buildings would be rented if it was not for this so the banks would be eating it or the owners cant pay their home mortgage because they depend on the rent as income. That is not to mention all of the houses getting rented or sold and the electricity being used. the truth is there are more people going than coming because everyone is going out of state to work because of stupid decisions like this made by our so called leaders. They can go ahead and fill the legal system again and pay more taxpayers money to put people away instead of make some money off of a harmless drug/medicine and just let alcohol and pills kill the society. Makes you wonder who is paying them off? whether they like it or not its going to happen one way or another so you can send tens of millions of our states money to other states or keep it local and get a cut.

Sat, 02/19/2011 - 3:39pm Permalink
another montanan (not verified)

Some folks are obtaining cannabis for recreational use from legal caregivers. Please excuse me if I'm not afraid or even a little concerned.  It has always been easily obtainable. Have overdoses increased? Not from cannabis, in fact it quite possibly has reduced the number of overdoses from prescription drugs that cannabis has replaced for many people. It is probably one of the best solutions to the prescription drug abuse "epidemic". Have emergency room admittances, traffic accidents, personal injury or illness, violent crime, teenage use or any of the imagined problems associated with cannabis use increased? Show me the downside to this initiative overwhelmingly passed by the people of Montana and a good number of other states. The worst harm from cannabis use comes from it's prohibition. Careers ruined, hopes and dreams of our young people gone because of some harmless experimentation, money wasted on prosecuting and incarcerating non-violent offenders that could have been used to protect us from the real criminals threatening us, these are but a few of the downsides to marijuana prohibition. Let's do the only rational thing and let people make their own choices for medicine and relaxation.  Legalize and regulate cannabis like we do other much more harmful substances like alcohol and tobacco. Maybe then we can get on to the real problems facing us.

Sun, 02/20/2011 - 12:17pm Permalink
Potis Evil (not verified)

Hey, look here mister. I make a lot of money from marijuana being illegal. I'm a cop on TV entrapping someone into buying pot, deadly scary pot! I am such a good cop. [don't tell anyone I smoke some pot now and then, ok]

I am a corrections officer getting mass overtime making sure pot smokers stay locked up. Good thing because they probably would have been working, er, I mean doing something criminal in your neighborhood. It just looks like they are decent citizens going to work all week but no way. They smoke a joint at home after work and then turn into raging criminals roaming the streets with heroin needles sticking out of their arms right? Sure. You know it. Except me when I smoke a little. But me and the cops, well, we are better than you. We can handle it. You can't.

I am a drug lord. I own a large part of your country and its lawmakers.

I am a prescription drug maker. I should be the one who gets to turn a plant into a pill. It is for your own good.

Sun, 03/27/2011 - 3:20am Permalink

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.