In November 2004, Montana voters approved Initiative 148, the state’s medical marijuana law, with 62 percent voting “yes.” In the years since, thousands of seriously ill patients have successfully obtained doctor approval to use marijuana as a medicine.
In a major overreaction to problems that emerged with the program, the Montana legislature voted twice in 2011 to repeal I-148.
The first bill, an outright repeal, was vetoed by Gov. Brian Schweitzer. The second bill, Senate Bill 423, repealed I-148 also, replacing it with a deeply flawed new program. The governor allowed it to become law, but did not sign it.
Many patients, doctors and people who help them say that the new law is unworkable. They say it thwarts the basic intent of voters who approved the original medical marijuana law. A court has already found major problems.
The Montana constitution allows voters to subject any legislative action to a vote of the people for approval or disapproval. That’s what Initiative Referendum 124 (IR-124) will do. Nearly 36,000 registered voters signed petitions to insist that IR-124 go on the ballot. Voters in 70 of 100 House Districts signed it. Volunteers carried nearly all the petitions. It was an overwhelming response by all Montanans.
Voting AGAINST IR-124 is about fulfilling voters’ original intent. We want a law to allow seriously ill patients to have reliable, safe access to medical marijuana when their doctors think they should. IR-124 fails that test and thwarts voters’ intent.
Voting AGAINST IR-124 expresses our mutual hope for a more cooperative, bipartisan regulatory process that addresses the concerns of patients, physicians, law enforcement, and communities.
When voters go AGAINST IR-124, legislators will be required to do a better job regulating medical marijuana. It’s about time.