Last week, the House Human Services Committee, ignoring the will of the people, took the imperfect S.B. 423 and made it completely unworkable. Committee Chairman Dave Howard called medical marijuana a “scourge” and tried to get the bill as close to repeal as possible. We expect a full House vote as early as Monday, April 11.
So what exactly is going on in Montana? First, there was the initial push for repeal with H.B. 161. That bill stalled in the Senate, but was immediately followed by a rash of federal raids on medical marijuana businesses, which whipped the legislature into a frenzy to do something, anything, about this medical marijuana “scourge.” With full repeal supposedly off the table, S.B. 423 moved forward, which would have restricted the rights of patients severely and eliminated most medical marijuana businesses. When the legislature couldn’t agree on that, the full repeal bill reared its ugly head again. This time, it was approved by both the Senate and the House.
Now, Montana lawmakers are concerned that Gov. Schweitzer might veto the repeal bill, and are pushing an even stricter version of S.B. 423 toward his desk, just in case.
The bottom line is that everything comes down to Gov. Schweitzer. Since it is obvious that the legislature as a whole can’t decide on a humane and reasonable solution to the alleged problems in Montana’s system, we must ask the governor to support the will of the voters, by rejecting repeal of the medical marijuana law and proposing amendments that do not strip it of its substance.