Del. lawmakers submit medical marijuana bill again
Use of Medical Marijuana in Montana May be Repealed by July
A vote in the Montana House of Representatives may be the start of repealing the State's medical marijuana bill. Will the Senate kill the bill?
The Montana House of Representatives voted 63 to 37 to repeal the state's six-year-old medical marijuana bill. The vote, mostly along party lines with Republicans voting for repel and Democrats against, does not mean the law will now be repelled; it must now go before the Montana State Senate.
"We were duped...the law has been a pretext for encouraging recreational use and creating a path to full legalization of marijuana," the Republican House speaker Mike Millburn, a champion of overturning the bill, said on the floor before the vote. “It is starting to undermine the entire fabric of our state. It is time to take back our state and our culture and do what is best for Montana.”
Montana Passed Medical Marijuana Bill in 2004
Montana passed the medical marijuana bill in a ballet initiative, Initiative 148, in 2004 in a 62 to 37 percent vote. Some feel that since then that the industry has grown too large and that too many are being granted a card. The State has 975,000 citizens and some 30,000 of them have a medical marijuana card. Most of those are granted for 'chronic pain' and Millburn feels the law is being taken advantage of.
Other Montana politicians, more the Democrats but some Republicans, too, feel that the answer is to tighten the laws and to move to regulate the marijuana industry in Montana more. The attempt to repeal the medical marijuana law is expected to have a much tougher time in front of the State Senate.
However were it to be passed by the Senate, controlled by Republicans, it would land upon the desk of Montana's Democratic governor, Gov. Brian Schweitzer. While Schweitzer is on record as saying that he feels the medical marijuana laws should be tightened he has not spoken out for or against repeal.
Medical Marijuana in 15 U.S. States
The ability to get a medical marijuana card and use marijuana for medical conditions exists now in 15 U.S. states, the last one getting the right was Arizona, which narrowly passed a bill to grant medical marijuana licenses in the November election.
California, which passed a bill allowing medical marijuana in 1996, went to the polls in 2010 to vote on Proposition 19, a controversial bill to legalize the possession and growing of marijuana for recreational personal use. That bill was defeated.
If the Millburn bill is successful it would come into effect on July 1 and Montana would become the first state to have allowed the use of medical marijuana only to take that use away.
Judge Okays Walmartâs Firing of Medical Marijuana User
It has not been a good 24 hours for medical marijuana users.
Michigan federal judge Robert Jonker today ruled that Walmart had the right to fire an employee who was using marijuana to treat the side effects of an inoperable brain tumor. The state’s medical marijuana laws protect licensed users from arrest but do not trump employers’ policies banning the use of dope, the judge held.
Here’s a report from the Grand Rapids Press. (And click hereto read the opinion.) Finally, click here for a LB post from last August on the case; here for a story on the case from the WSJ’s Stephanie Simon.
The plaintiff, Joseph Casias, 30, who was the Associate of the Year at the Walmart in Battle Creek, Michigan, was fired by the retailer in 2008 after he tested positive for dope.
He claimed he only used marijuana after his work shift, the Press reports. Even so, state law does not require private employers to “accommodate the use of medical marijuana outside of the workplace,” Judge Jonker wrote.
Walmart’s attorneys contend that Michigan’s medical marijuana law wasn’t intended to regulate businesses, according to the Grand Rapids Press.
The American Civil Liberties Union, counsel to Casias, has said it will appeal. “Today’s ruling does not uphold the will of Michigan voters, who clearly wanted to protect medical marijuana and facilitate its use by very sick people like Joseph Casias,” the ACLU said in a statement. “A choice between adequate pain relief and gainful employment is an untenable one.”
In other dope news, the Montana House of Representatives yesterday voted to repeal the state’s medical marijuana law, the New York Times reports.
The sponsor of the repeal bill told the times that the state law legalizing medical marijuana had been a pretext for encouraging recreational use and he said he feared the law could lead to gang drug wars in Montana’s cities. “We were duped,” said Montana’s House speak Mike Milburn.
Rare Disease Or Not, Colorado Teen Can't Have Medical Pot At School, Not Even A Lozenge
The Colorado Independent reported that the teen, whose name was not released, has been prescribed marijuana lozenges to control attacks that come on without warning. The Colorado Springs school district says the student can attend school as long as he doesn't take the medication. As of Thursday, the paper reports, the district also said it must abide by a state law that forbids possession or use of medical marijuana on school grounds. Note too that Colorado is a state that allows the use of medical marijuana. So why does the student need the drug? The boy's dad, Shan Moore, described his son's condition as being "like hiccups on steroids," according to the paper. He said the marijuana lozenges help relieve spasms that can last up to 24 hours.
The National Institutes of Health describes myoclonus as a kind of hiccup or "sleep start" run amok. It says: "When more widespread, myoclonus may involve persistent, shock-like contractions in a group of muscles. Myoclonic jerking may develop in people with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Myoclonic jerks commonly occur in persons with epilepsy, a disorder in which the electrical activity in the brain becomes disordered and leads to seizures." The issue likely will get kicked up to the state level as activists and family members have been petitioning state legislators for help. And it likely will become a bigger media story too.
Surprise adopts less-strict medical-marijuana zoning rules
Surprise City Council has approved a new set of zoning rules for places to grow or dispense medical marijuana.
The zoning changes are less restrictive than an earlier proposal that would have medical-marijuana facilities to industrial and heavy commercial areas. Now, facilities will be allowed in some intermediate commercial zones.
Dispensaries must be separated by 3,000 feet to prevent clustering, and 1,500 feet from schools, day cares and parks. A 500-foot separation requirement would apply around homes and churches. Council members voted, 7-0, to accept the new rules.
Arizona voters narrowly approved a ballot initiative in November, making it legal for certain patients with debilitating illnesses to get marijuana with a doctor's support. Cities are allowed to create zoning rules to control dispensaries, cultivation sites and infusion facilities, which blend marijuana into foods such as brownies, drinks or lollipops.
Council members said they favored allowing dispensaries in more areas so patients suffering from debilitating diseases would not be forced to travel to less-desirable, outlying areas.
Councilman Mike Woodard had spoken out against the first zoning proposal, saying it was "offensive to those who will receive needed medical assistance by the use of medical marijuana" to put the dispensaries on the fringes of the city. He said it would create a stigma.
Although the council was united in its support of the rules, Councilwoman Sharon Wolcott questioned the timing.
Wolcott initially said the council should wait to adopt the proposal until the state finishes revising its rules for patients, doctors and dispensaries. The state Department of Services is set to release its final rules in March.
Chris Boyd, assistant community and economic development director, urged the council to take action. He said waiting too long might allow a dispensary to set up in an undesirable area.
Under the state's rules, Surprise could have as many as four dispensaries, though city staff said the zoning requirements would allow for only three. Dispensaries locations must be approved by the state. The first sites could open by early summer.
Representatives from the medical-marijuana industry welcomed the less-stringent zoning limits.
Cameron Carter, an attorney for Today's , a Colorado-based dispensary looking to expand to Surprise, told the council that the city's original proposal would have made it unviable to open a dispensary in the city.
Carter said Surprise's first proposal allowed for dispensaries only in locations that are occupied, on government-owned land or vacant. Because the state requires dispensaries to open within a few months of getting a permit, developing a vacant lot would be unrealistic, he said.
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