Montana News

Jan 22, 2011 12:19 AM by Marnee Banks (KXLH Helena)

MT lawmakers hear passionate testimony about medical marijuana

HELENA - Over 100 people lined up to testify at the Capitol Friday on the controversial topic of medical marijuana.

Patients, caregivers, parents, law enforcement officers and every other stakeholder came to testify on a bill which provides regulatory framework for the medical marijuana industry in Montana.

"The complete lack of regulation in this area has created both a perception that medical marijuana is out of control and a complete inability by all of our normal institutions and systems to rein in the bad actors out there. We need clarification and regulations provided in this bill," Montana Representative Diane Sands (D-Missoula) said.

"I believe that regulation is needed. I just don't thing we need to over regulate something that is very simple," added medical marijuana patient Jack Mayes-Gentry.

"In short this current situtation is a public health and safety disaster. It is law enforcement nightmare. This thing's created a fiasco in this state that is also an embarrassment to Montana on a national level," commented Mark Long with the Montana Narcotics Association.

"My dad was in a major motorcycle accident. In the accident he punctured a lung, fractured the left side of his ribs, shattered his wrist and broke his back. But, he started using medical cannabis. He is so much more fun to be around," explained Roxanne McCoy, who is the daughter of a caregiver.

"Something had to be done, it did, it does. We simply cannot go on this way," Larry Epstein with the Montana Chiefs of Police said.

"The problem is like it's putting lipstick on a pig. I don't see anyway possible that we as Montana and our legislators can regulate this drug," Billings business owner Steve Zabawa told lawmakers.

"We know that some of these businesses have to go, we want them to be the right ones, the good ones that survive not just a random percentage,: said Kate Cholewa with the Alliance for Cannabis Science.

"However, it has a fundamental flaw it is trying to fix something that should never have been passed in the first place, stated Belgrade resident Joel Murdy.

"I oppose this bill. I am a medical marijuana patient and it's changed my life. It is what allows me to get out of bed in the morning. I use it for chronic pain," countered medical marijuana patient Kai Weber.

"This bill is not a stringent as some would like and not liberal enough for others, but we think it is a reasonable attempt to address these significant issues," Sands concluded.

This is just one of nine bills here at the Capitol addressing the medical marijuana industry.

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