Pages tagged "repeal"


MT Patient Advocates Put Repeal of Medical Marijuana Restrictions on Ballot for 2012



Patient advocates in Montana, including members of Americans for Safe Access, were successful this week in gathering enough signatures to overturn SB423, an extremely restrictive medical cannabis bill that took away many of the patients’ rights enshrined in Initiative 148, passed by 62 percent of voters in 2004. Since its passage last session, SB423 has threatened to reduce the number of patients who can qualify for protection under the state law by 90 percent. It also eliminated virtually all access to localized distribution, forcing thousands of patients into the illicit market.



Although a lawsuit was partially successful in rolling back some of the restrictions imposed by SB423, it was unable to nullify the entire bill. Not wanting to rely completely on the courts, patient advocates began a signature drive to put the legislation on the ballot.

It is now up to the voters to reject the onerous provisions of SB423 in its entirety in order to pave the way for more sensible regulation and reform.  Local activist and medical cannabis attorney, Chris Lindsey, commented on the progress made by the reformation committee stating that:
We had a voter-approved law that was repealed by our state's politicians. When they were unable to come up with a complete ban, they cooked up a law that punishes people who wanted to participate in the medical marijuana program. The current law does not protect patents and those who provide to them. What we need is smart regulation, not a punitive law that works against the rights of Montana citizens.

Lindsey speaks on behalf of thousands of patients whose access has been seriously compromised with the passage of SB423, and who agree that smart regulation is needed to resurrect safe and legal access to their medication.

Placing this issue on the ballot is a great step in the right direction, and will hopefully restore the rights of Montana patients established under Initiative 148.  However, the work is far from over.  Our opposition has made it clear that the scope of Initiative 148 is too broad, and now it is up to the patient community in Montana to educate the greater public on why SB423 is not the “regulatory” answer.

ASA Works to Build the Base in MT

[caption id="attachment_1329" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer"]
[/caption]

ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer testified before the Montana Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday in opposition to HB 161, a bill that would repeal the state’s six-year old medical cannabis law, before setting off on a three-day tour of the state.  Judiciary Committee members delayed a vote on the bill, which has already been approved by the full House of Representatives. ASA is opposing HB 161 to preserve access for patients in Montana, and calling on lawmakers there to properly regulate medical cannabis instead of repealing it.



Ms. Sherer is visiting cities around the state this weekend to hold stakeholder’s meetings to talk about how to push back on HB 161. Grassroots opposition to the bill is essential. Research and experience show that lawmakers are more likely to respond to a broad and genuine citizen’s movement than lobbyists in St. Helena. ASA works on the frontlines with patients and providers, because medical cannabis patients advocating for their own needs are the most effective advocates for their own rights. That is why ASA makes training and skills building priorities in our work.

We ignore the repeal effort in Montana at great risk to patients. Medical cannabis opponents are exploiting growing public ambivalence about medical cannabis nationwide, and this has a real impact on policies that effect patients’ welfare. Opponents are also trying to repeal medical cannabis laws in New Mexico and Oregon. Other states may follow.  This battle will take place at the local level, too, where cities and counties in the fifteen medical cannabis states consider ordinances that severely limit or prohibit safe access to medicine.

I hope you will support ASA in our efforts to build the powerful and effective grassroots movement to push back on opposition like what we are seeing in Montana – and to push forward in the work of protect and expanding patients’ rights nationwide.

Trouble in Montana

Medical cannabis patients and advocates all over the country should be paying attention to what is happening in Montana right now. The House of Representatives voted to repeal the state’s medical cannabis law on Thursday. If the Senate follows suit, Montana’s seven year old voter initiative could be gone on July 1st. The push to roll back safe access in the state comes amid hand-wringing over familiar topics – lenient doctors and a growing number of dispensaries. While patients and advocates rally to oppose the measure, the rest of the country should learn a lesson about how fragile support for medical cannabis can be.



Passing state medical cannabis laws is the first step in a long and expensive process. Advocates must follow up with legislation and rules to fully implement the laws before our increasingly-sophisticated opponents use anecdotes of abuse, real and imagined, to erode support. Research conducted by Americans for Safe Access beginning in 2005 clearly shows that sensible regulations reduce crime and complaints around medical cannabis facilities. The implication is clear – regulations are our best strategy for diffusing opposition.

The repeal of Montana’s medical cannabis initiative is not certain. Americans for Safe Access is talking with activists on the ground about solutions – a proactive media campaign, self-regulation, and old-fashioned grassroots opposition. Meanwhile, lawmakers in Helena are vetting numerous “fix it” bills to address ambivalence about the state’s rapidly expanding program. Patients there hope that cooler heads prevail, and the legislature opts for a middle ground.