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Graphic: Miami Beach 411

​Never mind that an overwhelming 63 percent of residents voted to legalize medical marijuana in 2004. A prominent Montana Republican lawmaker wants to overturn the voter-passed law that legalized medicinal cannabis.

Senator Jim Shockley (R-Victor) on Monday requested a bill to be drafted for the 2011 Legislature to repeal the medical marijuana law, reports Jennifer McKee at the Helena Independent Record. Shockley claimed he believes marijuana has medical benefits and should remain legal, only in a “much more controlled way.”

Irvin Rosenfeld/Facebook

Irvin Rosenfeld has smoked more than 125,000 U.S. government marijuana cigarettes over the past 30 years. 

Editor’s note: Did you know that for the past three decades, the U.S. federal government has been providing a handful of patients with medical marijuana? The program grew out of a 1976 court settlement that created the country’s first legal cannabis smoker, Robert C. Randall, and the creation of the Compassionate Use Investigative New Drug Program.

By Irvin Rosenfeld
Federal Medical Marijuana Patient
President Obama, you now have to make a decision with regard to how the federal government will answer the groundswell of support nationwide not only for medical use of cannabis, but also for outright legalization.
Why am I writing? Of the final four federal medical marijuana (cannabis) patients in the United States, I am the longest surviving member, and I believe I have a unique voice on this issue. On November 20, I will be starting my thirty-first year of receiving 10 to 12 cannabis cigarettes per day for severe bone tumor disorders.
It serves as a muscle relaxant, an anti-inflammatory, an analgesic, and has kept my tumors from growing for more than 38 years. I am in great shape for someone with my conditions. That’s because I have the right medicine.

Montana Department of Justice
Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock on Tuesday said he’d vote against IR-124

Attorney General Bullock Says He’ll Vote Against IR-124
No poll shows IR-124 with majority support, and the new law — which repeals a voter initiative which legalized medical marijuana in the state back in 2004, with the support of 62 percent of state voters — now faces two new hurdles to approval by the voters this year.
Patients for Reform, Not Repeal has begun its second radio advertising campaign with a new spot, entitled “Running Away,” which points to the measure’s weak voter support and even opposition from the Montana Republican Party. The spot notes that Sen. Jeff Essman, sponsor of SB 423 – the subject of the referendum – has conceded that his work will be changed next year.

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.

Graphic: Patients For Reform Not Repeal

​Backers of medical marijuana in Montana say they are still making progress in their efforts to overturn the strict medical marijuana law recently passed by the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature.

The group “Patients for Reform Not Repeal” said it has collected more than 30,000 signatures in their effort to second Senate Bill 423 back to the voters, reports Marnee Banks at KRTV. According to the group, SB 423 effectively shut down safe access to medical marijuana for Montana patients.
The group needs just more than 24,000 valid signatures, or 5 percent of the qualified voters in 34 House districts, to get the law on the ballot. They have until September 30 to gather the signatures.

Photo: Billings Gazette
Flowering cannabis plants at Montannabis, Inc., Billings, Montana, March 16, 2011.

​Montana on Tuesday appealed to the Montana Supreme Court a judge’s ruling which blocked tight new restrictions on medical marijuana on the state, and will argue there’s no constitutional right to sell cannabis for a profit. The new restrictions have been described by some patient advocates as a de facto repeal of Montana’s medical marijuana law, passed by 62 percent of the state’s voters in 2000.

The Montana Justice Department will ask the state’s high court to overturn portions of Helena District Judge James Reynolds’ decision from June 30, which suspended enforcement of several provisions of the tough new law passed the the Republican-dominated 2011 Legislature to crack down on the state’s growing medical marijuana industry, reports Mike Dennison at the Billings Gazette.

montana crackdown mmj.jpg
Photo: Erik Peterson/Bozeman Daily Chronicle
A federal agent looks over marijuana plants and equipment following a raid in Montana on March 14.

​Expect the Montana Legislature to crack down on medical marijuana, State Rep. Jon Sesso (D-Butte) told the Montana Bar Association on Friday.

Sesso, the House minority leader, said he expects “significant reform,” but not outright repeal of the 2004 Medical Marijuana Act, approved by an overwhelming 62 percent of Montana voters. He spoke to the lawyers’ group in Butte, reports Tim Trainor at the Montana Standard.
“The abusers will be on notice, probably in the next 30 days,” Sesso said. “If you aren’t legitimately sick, you are not going to be able to use.”

Photo: Robyn Twomey
Federal medical marijuana patient Irvin Rosenfeld with a tin of 300 government joints, which he’s gotten every 25 days from the government for 28 years.

​With a bill which would repeal the state’s medical marijuana law already having been passed by the House, the Montana Senate will soon hold hearings on House Bill 161, to repeal the 2004 initiative passed by voters.
Montana’s medical cannabis law was approved in 2004 by a resounding 62 percent of state voters. Despite that, HB 161 was introduced early in the current legislative session by House Speaker Mike Milburn, who ran unopposed in Cascade, Montana.
Milburn’s bill passed the House fueled by “Reefer Madness”-like statements, devoid of fact, according to Hiedi Handford, owner and publisher of Montana Connect.
With the antics of the House, along with another anti-marijuana group called “Safe Community Safe Kids,” Handford said it became quite apparent that big help was needed once again.
“Facts and science are being completely ignored,” Handford said. “Folks just seem to pay attention when they meet and question a federal patient, as so many folks out there still have no idea the federal patients even exist.”

Graphic: KTVQ

​House Bill 161, Montana’s medical marijuana repeal bill, has only been approved by the House of Representatives. It hasn’t cleared the Senate, nor has it been signed by the governor. But dispensaries in Missoula are concerned about possible negative economic effects if the law is repealed.

Thousands of jobs could be lost, cities would lose revenue from business taxes, and many more people would be relying on food stamps if repeal passes, according to Dave Stephens, owner of Better Life Montana in Missoula.
“It’s a bad idea all the way around,” Stephens told Paige Huntoon of the Montana Kaiminthe student daily at the University of Montana at Missoula.

Irv Rosenfeld holding can of joints.jpg
Federal medical marijuana patient Irvin Rosenfeld holds a tin of 300 joints, which he gets every 25 days from the government.

​Irvin Rosenfeld, the longest survivor of the four remaining federal medical marijuana patients in the United States, plans to visit Montana to speak before the Legislature next week. Rosenfeld will be there to educate people on the importance of medical cannabis and its true value as a medicine.

As a federal medical marijuana patient for more than 28 years, Rosenfeld has knowledge and experience to share with others. According to Irv, cannabis is a medicine like any other, and should be treated that way.
As senior vice president of investments for Newbridge Securities in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, he also understands the economic aspect and how medical marijuana creates jobs for thousands of Montanans.
“Montana is being watched nationally, and what happens in this legislative session could set precedence around the world,” said Rosenfeld, who serves as a director for the advocacy group Patients Out of Time.
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