|Montana Cowgirl Blog|
|A billboard that reads "Welcome to Yellowstone County, Where the Will of the People Doesn't Count" on Montana Avenue in Billings. The billboard encourages Montanans to vote "NO" on IR-124.|
A new poll shows that IR-124, the November 6 referendum on the 2011 Legislature's unworkable medical marijuana law, faces steep odds, with support at only 46 percent.
Bob Brigham, campaign manager for Patients for Reform, Not Repeal, said, "Historically, ballot measures that don't start near 60 percent support are in danger of failing. IR-124 doesn't even hit 50 percent. That's a bad sign for the Legislature's proposal, especially if we do our job and explain to voters why they should vote against this 'godawful' law."
A new Public Policy Polling survey was released Thursday afternoon in which the full ballot summary for IR-124 was read aloud to 656 registered and likely Montana voters. The summary describes Senate Bill 423, which was forced to the ballot by opponents and appears as IR-124.
Support was 46 percent, opposition 29 percent, and a large number, 24 percent, were undecided on the Legislature's proposal. The poll was completed before most voters could have learned about this week's Montana Supreme Court decision on SB 423, which enacted for the first time the law's most extreme features and ensured that voters will have the final say on this issue in November.
"There is a lot about IR-124 that is not clear to voters at this time, but it is vulnerable because it overturns the will of the people," Brigham observed. "In addition, the law's most extreme qualities, which are crushing to the state's sickest patients, have only just now taken effect. Montanans supported medical marijuana with 62 percent of the vote just eight years ago."
"This new law hurts the very people Montana voters most wanted to help, seriously ill patients," Brigham said. "We believe there is a better way, which is to create new regulations that serve patients and communities properly. If and when IR-124 is rejected, the work on regulation will begin anew next session."
Just this week, in a public radio interview on KUFM in Missoula, Sen. Jeff Essman, a co-author SB 423, vowed to work on amending the law next year. The Montana Republican Party platform also calls for SB 423 to be fixed in the next legislative session, Brigham noted.
"Even the author of the bill knows it is severely flawed," Brigham said. "That's another bad sign for IR-124. We will never be complacent, but we do think we can defeat IR-124 and make Montana's medical marijuana program workable for patients as well as for law enforcement and communities."