Medical marijuana debate returns to Helena

The 62nd session of the Montana Legislature will reconvene in the state’s capitol Monday morning after a four day break and as the end of the session nears, time is ticking for lawmakers to reach a compromise over a bill to overhaul the state’s medical marijuana industry.

Governor Brian Schweitzer vetoed plans to repeal the voter-approved law last Wednesday, and now legislators plan to start working out differences between the Senate and House on the overhaul measure, Senate Bill 423.

Lawmakers plan on tackling the position of medical marijuana caregivers. The Senate currently supports for-profit growing where caregivers can sell to patients similar to the current system. However, the House is pushing for the elimination of commercial caregivers, which would only allow for the patients themselves, or a blood relative, to grow for them.

If they can’t come to a compromise on the bill, lawmakers face the possibility of Legislative inaction and business could bloom as usual. Many lawmakers from both parties say something needs to be done before the issue grows any larger.

“I am certain that on Monday morning, when we get together, we will be able to hammer out a good bill that gets the storefronts closed, continues to allow a small group of chronically ill people to access this product, but removes it in terms of access to young people,” said Senator Jeff Essman, (R-Billings).

“There is quite a bit of difference between the two philosophies right now. I really will say I’m glad the governor vetoed the repeal. I do not think it’s up to us as a legislature to override what the people themselves decided. I totally agree that something needs to be done. What happened was inexcusable and we need some very strict guidelines,” added Sen. Gary Branae, (D-Billings).

Branae addedaddes that he hopes the new guidelines won’t be so strict that it becomes impossible for people who can benefit from medical marijuana to obtain it.

There are almost 30,000 card carrying medical marijuana patients in the Treasure State.

via : KPAX

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