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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Montana Medical Marijuana Initiative Gains Support

Katherine Hitt (CC-BY-ND-2.0)
I-182 campaign supporters will submit over 40,000 signatures to county election officers across the state this week.

Medical marijuana advocates say they’re confident a proposed initiative they support will qualify for November’s ballot.

“Montanans support the medical marijuana program and they want to put it on the ballot and then vote it back in."
That’s Morgan Marks, field director for Initiative 182.

With 62 percent of the vote, Montana voters legalized the state’s first medical marijuana program in 2004.

But the legislature passed a bill six years later restricting access to the drug.

Marks says Initiative 182 would overturn those restrictions and give the state health department additional oversight:

“I-182 would remove the current three patient limit. It would add PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] to the list of debilitating illnesses. It would put the DPHHS in charge of annual inspections, also making the medical marijuana program in the state of Montana fiscally responsible by having license fees so that there’s no extra expenditures on the state.”
The Montana constitution requires an initiative petition to get 24,175 valid signatures from qualified Montana electors.  

Marks says the I-182 campaign will submit over 40,000 signatures to county election officers across the state this week.

Those election officers will then confirm those signatures are from registered voters and match signatures with the ones on file.

Morgan Marks:
"It’s important and I think people know that. It’s important for the people who are using, this is their medicine and without it they won’t have access and then the entire program would be shut down.”
The Billings Gazette reports backers of a competing initiative that would repeal Montana’s medical marijuana program say it’s received 30,000 signatures.

A third group supporting full legalization of marijuana is 10,000 signatures shy of the ballot. Those signatures are due to the secretary of state tomorrow.

County election administrators have until July 15 to process the petitions and file the results with the Secretary of State to qualify for the November ballot.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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