Martz rails against medical marijuana initiative

October 22, 2004

Associated Press, Billings Gazette

HELENA -- Gov. Judy Martz has penned an op-ed piece urging Montana voters to defeat a measure to legalize medical marijuana in the state.

In the opinion sent to news media Friday, Martz said Initiative 148 ignores years of drug prevention efforts and discounts medicinal alternatives to 'smoking a crude weed.'

'Efforts to promote the myth of 'medical' marijuana severely dilute the message that marijuana is dangerous and can have serious consequences,' Martz wrote.

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The initiative, similar to measures already approved by voters in nine states, would protect patients, their doctors and their caregivers from arrest and prosecution for possessing certain amounts of marijuana for medical purposes.

Proponents say the drug can relieve pain and nausea associated with AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma and other chronic illnesses. Opponents counter it's the first step toward legalizing the drug completely.

Paul Befumo of the Medical Marijuana Project of Montana said Friday he was disappointed by what he characterized as Martz's 'outrageous' comments.

'For a lame duck governor who doesn't seem to be informed at all about the science that underlies this whole issue, I don't see what the point of her getting involved is,' Befumo said. 'She obviously hasn't read any of the literature.'



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