Montana Gov. vetoes bill tossing medical marijuana

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer last week vetoed legislation that would have overturned the state’s medical marijuana law. He said he thought the law needed some work but that he could not let the Legislature toss out a law approved by 62 percent of Montana voters.

“I issue this veto of HB 161 because I do not believe it is right that 91 legislators overturn the will of the people of Montana,” he wrote in a letter to legislators.

“We were very pleased that the governor stood up for patients and for the people of Montana and did not let the Legislature get the best of him,” said Jim Gingery, executive director of the Montana Medical Growers Association.

“Having twice been elected to statewide office, I bring to this issue an ever-abiding respect for Montana’s electoral process,” Schweitzer wrote. I know it is the people of Montana I serve, and so it is the people of Montana I listen to as I execute the laws of this state day in and day out.”

He went on to write that law as currently interpreted and enforced is broader than the people intended. “However, balancing that fact with the medical needs of Montana citizens, I believe the proper resolution of this unanticipated outcome is not outright repeal, but amendment to serve the original intent–to provide a medicinal option for Montanans ‘to alleviate the symptoms or effects of the patient’s debilitating medical condition.'”

Both the Montana House and Senate have also passed measures that would tighten regulations without an outright ban. The House, however, completely changed the Senate bill and the two chambers are meeting in committee today to try and hammer out their differences.

Medical marijuana advocates in Montana say this bill could end up being almost the same as outright repeal.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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