Friday, April 8, 2011

MT coalitions work to repeal medical marijuana law

A bill to repeal Montana's medical marijuana program has been approved by their state legislature and is awaiting the signature of their governor. Fifteen states (including Washington) and the District of Columbia have passed laws in favor of medical marijuana. If the bill passes, Montana would be the first state to repeal medical marijuana.

Montana coalitions came together to push for the repeal.  A medical marijuana primer was produced to educate lawmakers and fellow health advocates.  They also:
  • visited lawmakers at the capital, Helena, early in the legislative session;
  • distributed flyers describing youth use and the effects of marijuana on the teen brain;
  • emailed, called and sent letters to policymakers;
  • pinpointed setbacks in the current medical marijuana law and made suggestions to policymakers as they drafted a reform bill;
  • collaborated with other group to create a united front, and a consistent argument;
  • sent information to the media;
  • responded to medical marijuana articles in a community forum on the newspaper blog;
  • presented evidence as a panelist on medical marijuana repeal;
  • began a statewide coalition to address policies related to drugs and alcohol.
Montana’s medical marijuana laws have created an environment favorable to drug use as marijuana becomes less taboo, coailtions testified. With dispensaries lining their streets and more than 28,000 cardholders in a state with a population of only 974,989, marijuana use among their youth is slowly rising. Coalitions also testified that youth are obtaining marijuana illegally from legal medical marijuana card holders. 

Though it is expected that the governor will veto the repeal, there is a reform bill on its heels.

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