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Montana Wants Medical Marijuana Reform, Not Repeal

The Montana House voted last week to repeal the state's voter-approved medical marijuana, but a new poll suggests that action was out of touch with sentiments in the state. According to a Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday, while there is significant support for tightening the regulation of medical marijuana, only 20% of Montanans want to see it repealed.

medical marijuana (courtesy Coaster420 and
The poll, conducted on behalf of the medical marijuana advocacy group Patients and Families United, found that three-fourths of Montanans thought that the medical marijuana law should either be tightened or stay as is, but not repealed. Nearly half (49%) of respondents wanted a medical marijuana law with strict regulations, while 27% though the medical marijuana status quo was just fine.

The telephone poll of 2,212 Montana residents was conducted last Saturday and Sunday. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 2.1%.

In 2004, 62% of voters approved the medical marijuana law at the ballot box. But in the past couple of years, medical marijuana has exploded in the state, with the number of approved patients topping 28,000. Medical marijuana entrepreneurs have pushed the envelope, exciting opposition with traveling caravans crisscrossing the state complete with paid physicians writing recommendations after brief consultations.

Discontent over Wild West aspects of Montana medical marijuana has led to competing proposals in the state legislature to close loopholes while still protecting patient rights. But it has also led more extreme opponents to attempt to roll it back completely, as the House voted last week.

Legislators should heed the will of the voters, said Tom Daubert, founder and director of Patients and Families United. "Repealing this law would be the only step worse than doing nothing to fix it," Daubert said. "It's neither moral nor practical to suddenly redefine thousands of suffering patients as criminals. Taxpayers can't afford that, and patients who are leading more comfortable, productive lives using cannabis rather than narcotics can't be expected to happily go backwards. This voter-adopted policy is benefiting a great many people, and it deserves to be fixed in ways that will address everyone's concerns. We are gratified to know that Montanans agree."

Will the state Senate get the message? Stay tuned.

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