Sep 2, 2011 7:36 PM by Breanna Roy (KPAX News)
MISSOULA- Petitioners across the state are hopeful more than 30,000 signatures will help them overturn Senate Bill 423, the legislation that forced medical marijuana businesses to close this July.
Garden Mother Earth business owner and grower Katrina Farnum signed the petition to get SB 423 on the ballot, and she holds signature-gatherer training at her Missoula store.
"I think anytime you have a citizen's initiative overturned like that, everyone should be concerned because that can come into play in everyone's lives over any issue," Farnum said. "This is just one."
The group "Patients for Reform Not Repeal" organized a statewide signature-gathering process with the hopes of turning the issue to Montana voters, giving them the power to vote "yes" or "no." Petitioners already gathered a surplus of about 6,000 signatures, but they need 5 percent of the qualified voters in 34 House Districts. So far, they've secured 12.
"They found a great level of support from the citizens they've come across and a very high percentage of people are interested in signing and our initiative," organizer Rose Habib with "Patients for Reform not Repeal" said.
With so much success on the street, the group is confident it will have enough approved signatures to make the ballot in 2012.
"We have over 400 volunteers in the field, they've been working very hard for over two months. They were completely new to the initiative process when we started and they've become seasoned signature gatherers," Habibi said. "We have a month to go so we're sure we're gonna meet our goal of 5%."
If they do get enough approved signatures by the September 30th deadline, medical marijuana backers will shift their roles from gathering signatures to gathering votes.
Meanwhile Montana State Senator Jeff Essman (R-BILLINGS), who sponsored SB 423, maintains his bill fulfills the original intent of the voters.