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Medical Marijuana Supporters Gathering Last Signatures Before Deadline

Supporters of Initiative 182 to create a stronger medical marijuana program are on a final push to gather signatures.(growweedeasy/morguefile)
Supporters of Initiative 182 to create a stronger medical marijuana program are on a final push to gather signatures.(growweedeasy/morguefile)
June 2, 2016

BILLINGS, Mont. - Supporters of Initiative 182, which would create a more tightly regulated system for medical marijuana, are launching a massive last-minute push to gather enough signatures to make it onto the ballot by the June 17 deadline. They've got about 25,000 signatures, more than the minimum required, but need an extra 10,000 to cover signatures that get disqualified. So they'll be out in force this weekend and on Tuesday, primary day, talking to as many voters as possible.

Gregory Zuckert, vice chairman with the Montana Cannabis Industry Association said the existing system is too vague and unstable, and needs more quality control.

"What voters are voting on is a more responsible and accountable medical marijuana program that allows for testing, licensing, inspections and has a lot more detailed structure to it," he said.

In 2011, the Legislature passed SB 423, which limited providers to just three patients each, effectively killing the program. The Cannabis Industry Association sued and won a partial stay, but then lost at the state Supreme Court in February and now has until August 31 to comply. It has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Zuckert said the stigma attached to medical marijuana is fading as more people recognize its benefits for conditions ranging from cancer to PTSD.

"Clearly, cannabis has an extraordinary degree of efficacy for treatment for certain ailments," he said. "We create cannabinoids in our own bodies. We have evolved with this plant for thousands and thousands of years."

Montana currently has about 450 providers, who serve approximately 13,000 patients.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - MT