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There is an imbecilic group of conservatives currently humping the political landscape of Montana in hopes of persuading the local yokels into outlawing marijuana across the state.

Earlier last week, the collaborative effort between anti-cannabis group Safe Montana and a shifty-eyed car salesman by the name Steve Zabawa won approval from the Secretary of State to begin collecting signatures for their petition, Initiative 174, aimed at banning the use and possession of all Schedule I substances deemed illegal under the Federal Controlled Substances Act — including medical marijuana.

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.”


​The collapse of Montana’s once-booming medical marijuana industry after a conservative Republican-controlled Legislature all but shut the program down with tough restrictions — in addition to raids where federal agents hit dozens of providers — was Montana’s top news story of 2011, according to an annual member poll from The Associated Press.

It’s the second straight year medicinal cannabis has been chosen as the state’s top story, reports Matt Volz at the Great Falls Tribune. But a world of change has occurred in Montana’s medical marijuana scene since a year ago.


​A study on the effects of Montana’s tough new medical marijuana law, adopted by the Republican-controlled state Legislature last year, shows the number of patients and providers has dropped since the makeover of the law passed by voters in 2000.

But the new law has also created a lack of access and forced many patients to return to the black market, according to Kate Cholewa, policy director for the Montana Cannabis Industry, reports Ryan Whalen at Beartooth NBC. Cholewa who said patients were scared they won’t be protected from the federal government by the new Senate Bill 423.
“This doesn’t necessarily end up with fewer people using cannabis,” Cholewa said, reports Charles S. Johnson of the Helena Independent Record. “It just ends up with more people you can put in jail for it.”

Graphic: KTVQ

​Montana’s state House and Senate have passed a bill aimed at radically slashing the number of authorized medical marijuana users and eliminating large cannabis businesses in the state.

The measure cleared both chambers of the Legislature on Wednesday, and now heads to Governor Brian Schweitzer for his signature, veto or amendment recommendations. Schweitzer has already vetoed an outright repeal of the state’s medical marijuana law, saying it went against the will of the voters, who approved the law in 2004.

Graphic: KTVQ

​Letting the voters decide? What a concept.

If you’re a resident of Montana, you may believe you already sent a pretty clear signal to the state’s politicians in 2004, when voters overwhelmingly approved the legalization of medical marijuana in a 62 percent to 38 percent rout. Let’s just assume some politicians are slow learners.
As legislators talk over repealing or amending the state’s medical marijuana law  — effectively thwarting the will of the voters — one lawmaker from Kalispell wants to give Montanans another chance to vote on the issue, reports Charles S. Johnson at the Billings Gazette.

Graphic: KTVQ

​A Montana Senate committee has deadlocked on a tie vote, failing to endorse a bill that would have repealed the state’s medical marijuana law.

The Senate Judiciary Committee locked up 6-6 on a motion to pass House Bill 161, by House Speaker Mike Milburn (R-Cascade), to repeal the law passed by 62 percent of voters in 2004, reports The Missoulian. The repeal bill, which removes safe access to cannabis for thousands of seriously ill patients in Montana, passed the House earlier this session.

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.

Graphic: TopNews

​It was an open and shut case — or at least, the police in a northern California town thought so when they confiscated more than two pounds of marijuana from a couple’s home, even though doctors authorized the pair to use cannabis for medical purposes.

San Francisco police evidently thought the same with a father and son they suspected of using the state’s medical marijuana law to operate what the cops claimed was an illegal trafficking organization, reports KTVQ.
But both those cases, along with possibly dozens of others, were tossed out in recent weeks because of a California Supreme Court ruling that struck down a seven-year-old state law that put an eight-ounce limit on the amount of marijuana that medical users are allowed to possess.

Photo: KTVQ

​Law enforcement agencies say they have faced a bit of a struggle since medical marijuana was approved in Montana in 2004, reports Nikki Laurenzo at KTVQ.

“We are in a quandary because we have conflict between state law and federal law,” said Billings Police Chief Rich St. John.
No quandary at all, Chief. Your duty is to enforce state laws. Leave the federal laws to federal agents. Problem solved!