Montana governor vetoes repeal of medical marijuana law

HELENA, Mont Wed Apr 13, 2011 3:27pm EDT

A marijuana plant is seen in Oakland, California July 23, 2009. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

A marijuana plant is seen in Oakland, California July 23, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Robert Galbraith

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HELENA, Mont (Reuters) - Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer on Wednesday vetoed a bill that would have repealed the state's 7-year-old, voter-approved law legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.

Schweitzer's veto came as state lawmakers continued work on an alternative bill to tighten regulation of medical marijuana in the state, where 30,000 residents carry cards allowing them to lawfully use marijuana as treatment for one ailment or another.

Critics of the law, approved as a ballot measure by voters in 2004, say the statute has been abused by some as a pretext for recreational pot smoking and even for illegal drug trade.

"The good intentions of Montana voters has been made a mockery by the system that's grown up in this state in the last year and a half," said state Senator Jeff Essmann, a chief sponsor of the regulation bill.

Last month, federal agents raided marijuana greenhouses and dispensaries in 13 cities across Montana in a crackdown that federal prosecutors said was aimed at supposed medical pot suppliers who were engaged in large-scale drug trafficking.

Although cannabis is still considered an illegal narcotic under federal law, 15 states and the District of Columbia have statutes making marijuana legal for medical reasons, mostly in the West, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

In a shift from the Bush administration's position on the subject, the administration of President Barack Obama said in October 2009 it would no longer prosecute patients who use medical marijuana, or dispensaries that distribute it, in states where marijuana has been approved for such purposes.

But the number of pot growers and storefront clinics has sprouted since then. And Justice Department officials say federal law enforcement will continue raids on illegal drug distribution operations wherever they are found.

(Reporting by Emilie Ritter in Helena; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Greg McCune)

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Comments (5)
lockandload wrote:
Legalize it all! That way there won’t be so much havoc on the Mexican border and the drug cartels will fade away. It’s not like the govt. does anything about anything anyway. All they do is pick on their own citizens and sell our country out. We have the stupidest people on the planet that claim they are leaders. They couldn’t even find their way out of a wet paper bag. Oh and don’t tell us what to do we are free and you can kiss my ass!

Apr 13, 2011 4:05pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
bmmm wrote:
“‘The good intentions of Montana voters has been made a mockery by the system that’s grown up in this state in the last year and a half,’” said state Senator Jeff Essmann, a chief sponsor of the regulation bill.

No, Mr. Essmann. The concept of American “freedom” has been made a mockery by politicians who try to babysit the citizenry. This is Montana. If I wanted my politicians and my neighbors in my business, I would move to NYC. You should be promptly fired for wasting precious time and money. Go worry about issues that really affect Montana. Health care and education might be good places to start. Thanks.

Apr 13, 2011 5:09pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
“This is Montana. If I wanted my politicians and my neighbors in my business, I would move to NYC.”

Hmm… If that is the prevailing attitude, maybe I should move to Montana…

Apr 13, 2011 8:25pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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