|Montana Republicans ignored the will of 62 percent of the state’s voters last year when they passed the restrictive SB 423. Now, with the election approaching, they seem to have suddenly discovered their hearts.|
It seems nobody is happy with the medical marijuana law passed by the GOP-controlled Montana Legislature in May 2011. Now even the Montana Republican Party has joined the call for a new bill in 2013.
State Republicans ignored the will of 62 percent of Montana’s voters last year when they passed the restrictive SB 423. Now, with the election approaching, they seem to have suddenly discovered their hearts.
In a landmark change to the party platform this past weekend, Republicans joined Democrats in supporting medical marijuana and called for “the next legislature to create a workable and realistic regulatory structure.”
Maybe the change was driven by some newly discovered compassion for medical marijuana patients — or perhaps the Big Sky politicians saw the writing on the wall when voters in neighboring Oregon overwhelmingly elected a pro-marijuana attorney general. For whatever reason, the state GOP seems pumped over its newfound heart.
|Montana Cannabis Industry Association|
“I am proud of my party,” said Nicole French, a spokesperson for the Montana Cannabis Industry Association and an integral party of coordinating the petition efforts of IR-124. IR-124 will be on the ballot this fall to give voters a chance to reject SB 423, the May 2011 law which drastically restricted medical marijuana rights for patients in Montana.
To reject SB 423’s onerous restrictions, voters should vote “no” on IR-124.
Since SB 423 passed, most patients in the state find it difficult to get doctors to recommend marijuana, and find it even harder — and impossible in come cases — to get medicine their medicine once approved.
IR-124 was forced to the ballot by a massive grassroots campaign coordinated by Patients For Reform – Not Repeal. That effort collected more 36,374 signatures and qualified in 72 of 100 House districts, far more than the state requirements for a referendum.
“The Republican Party is moving in the right direction and realizing that the previous legislature got it wrong; lawmakers overcorrected,” said Lindsey Pawluk, senior Republican strategist for Montana First. “They trampled people’s rights. They thwarted the spirit of the voters.
“In Montana, that’s not how we treat each other,” Pawluk said. “It’s time for a fresh start, after voters reject IR-124 this November.”
An overwhelming 62 percent of Montana voters approved their medical marijuana law in 2004, but the conservative Republican-dominated Legislature blithely ignored the will of the voters in passing SB 423 last year.
“After voters reject IR-124, we look forward to working with Republican legislative leaders on a constructive solution with solid regulations,” said Rose Habib, spokesperson for Patients For Reform – Not Repeal. “That is all that anyone ever wanted.
“We can come together as Montanans for workable medical marijuana regulations, just like so many Montanans are coming together now to oppose IR-124,” Habib said.
The Montana Democratic Party already added medical marijuana to its platform this year, supporting “the right of qualified patients… [to]have safe access to medical marijuana.”
The full text of the Montana GOP platform statement reads:
Medical Use of Marijuana.We recognize that a significant problem exists with Montana’s current laws regarding the medical use of marijuana and we support action by the next legislature to create a workable and realistic regulatory structure.