Montana House panel tables 4 bills to fix medical marijuana law

2013-02-16T05:30:00Z 2013-03-10T19:59:13Z Montana House panel tables 4 bills to fix medical marijuana law missoulian.com

HELENA – In short order, a House committee on Friday rejected and then tabled four bills intended to fix parts of the 2011 medical marijuana law that a district judge has temporarily blocked.

The House Human Services Committee voted down House bills 340-343 by Rep. Kelly McCarthy, D-Billings, on identical 12-4 votes. All 10 Republicans and two Democrats opposed the bills, while four Democrats supported them.

During the discussion, a sharp division emerged among committee members over medical marijuana and the 2011 law, Senate Bill 423. It greatly restricted its use and squeezed the profits out of what had been a booming industry here.

Chairman David Howard, R-Park City, a former FBI agent, criticized marijuana as “a joke.”

“This stuff is disguised as medicine,” Howard said. “It makes you delusional. It is psychologically addicting and physiologically addicting and it absorbs in your fat cells, which is the most dangerous drug there is. This is not a drug. It’s a poison.”

Howard told how he was the operations chief against marijuana planting in California in the 1980s, organizing and cutting down thousands of illegal plants.

Rep. Amanda Curtis, D-Butte, said the initiative that legalized medical marijuana here passed in 2004 “without any real sideboards at all.”

“The million-mile-high sideboards that were put on with SB423 made its practical use as a medicine illegal,” she said. “The injunctions put on the court facilitated limited use, and we saw the number of cardholders drop from 30,000 to 8,000 with those injunctions. We would have had zero without those injunctions.”

She told how medical marijuana had helped alleviate pain for her husband’s elderly grandmother, a deeply religious woman who lived in Washington state, after she fell and broke her hip.

McCarthy had tried to repair the 2011 law by reversing provisions in the law that District Judge James Reynolds of Helena temporarily enjoined in January. The judge did the same in June 2011, but the Montana Supreme Court reversed him and ordered him to rehear the matter, using a stricter legal standard.

HB340 would have eliminated the provision in the law requiring the Board of Medical Examiners to automatically review any physicians who have issued written certification for medical marijuana for more than 25 people in any 12-month period.

HB341 would have allowed medical marijuana providers to be paid for providing pot to cardholders. The 2011 law forbade compensation.

HB342 would have removed the three-person limit on the number of cardholders that medical marijuana providers could serve. There had been no limit previously.

HB343 would have eliminated from the law’s requirements that providers keep records and its provision allowing for automatic inspections.

***

In a related development, Attorney General Tim Fox said Friday he would not appeal Reynolds’ ruling, but wants the trial to proceed.

“Judge Reynolds’ injunction order is preliminary and does not rule upon or address the merits of the case,” said Fox’s spokesman, John Barnes. “Rather than appeal that interim order and cause further delay, Attorney General Fox will proceed to trial and will vigorously defend Montana’s laws.”

Afterward, McCarthy said he had committed during his campaign, if he won, to help members of the Montana Cannabis Information Association address the challenges they were facing under SB423.

“Regardless of federal supremacy, we address only Montana law in the Legislature, and these folks are not breaking any Montana laws,” McCarthy said. “For some patients, marijuana is much safer and better at managing their illnesses than pharmacological alternatives.”

Missoulian State Bureau reporter Charles S. Johnson can be reached at (406) 447-4066 or by email at chuck.johnson@lee.net.

Copyright 2015 missoulian.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(6) Comments

  1. DrStannis
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    DrStannis - February 16, 2013 1:09 pm
    Who let the Nazi-FBI to lead the committee? I mean really, shouldn't that bias automatically disqualify him from the panel? What kind of sham is this? The people of this state should be outraged. To be honest, I am so disgusted at the all of US! In this day and age, allegiance to personal or private interest should require screening from such legislative influence. As a voting member of the legislature, they are entitled to their vote; however, this is known as "railroading" and penalties should be awarded here, instead of for the cultivation and distribution of an organic medication. As if this ex-fed knows what helps my chemo treatment and surgical distress. If I wasn't already on death row like, well, like all of us I guess,... Regardless, all you folks MUST know by now that this "War" has nothing to do with the flowers. It's all about the petro-chemical, cotton, wood composite products (OSB, glu-lams, etc.), paper, etc. industrial giants no longer being able to maintain their monopolies should hemp be permitted as a textile. Like they really care what's good for any of us. Like Monsanto and the pumping out of GMO corn; with subsidies! Wake up folks, the future's here and it's looking bleaker by the day. See you in the next world. Don't be late.
  2. montananurse
    Report Abuse
    montananurse - February 16, 2013 12:12 pm
    Well said Jackson B!
  3. JacksonB
    Report Abuse
    JacksonB - February 16, 2013 11:09 am
    "We, the People of this state approved it"

    When has that ever mattered Muralist?
  4. doknobody
    Report Abuse
    doknobody - February 16, 2013 8:48 am
    It's now cheaper and safer to buy illegal Marijuana than ever before!
    Thanks to making it harder to get Med Mary No $100 fee's, no paying for 2 doctors to agree, no Fed raids on providers, no taxes, no workers comp, no insurance needed, no paying to grow my own, ect. ect. ect.
    Is cheaper and better now for us ( and anyone else that wants it )
    keep it up Howard....
  5. frazzle
    Report Abuse
    frazzle - February 16, 2013 6:41 am
    when are you clowns going to do something about the liquid poisen that is the real problem in this state ,drunk driving, domestic abuse child abuse and neglect murder rape ect..... or did'nt the marijuana lobby give you money like the tavern assocation.
  6. montanamuralist
    Report Abuse
    montanamuralist - February 16, 2013 6:31 am
    If this ridiculous FBI agent would talk about the dangers of legal stuff put out by the drug companies I would pay attention to what he is saying. Obviously a pawn for the pharmaceutical industry. The people voted for medical pot for certain patients and rather than do that as we approved it, they are trying to ban it. None should be reelected as they are saying...we know better than you do what is good for you...tighten access but allow it to be grown and people to be reimbursed for growing and allow patients who need this frug to have it wingnuts. W e, the people of this state approved it.....we really did!!!
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