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Clerical Error Likely to Delay Renewed MMJ Access in Montana

Due to the clerical error embedded in the final version of Montana’s ballot initiative to restore the state’s medical cannabis program, it’s unlikely that patients will have renewed access to the program until June 30, 2017, according to a Missoulian report. I-182 advocates could pressure the legislature to amend the bill — but it’s that very legislature that rolled back medical cannabis access in the first place.

In 2011, the GOP-led legislature passed not one, but two bills to not only curtail access but also repeal the medical marijuana law completely. Then-Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat, vetoed both measures; however, the legislature overrode his veto on SB 423, the bill to modify the program. The governor allowed it to become law, by refusing to sign the bill and letting it sit for 10 days.

These days, Schweitzer is out, replaced by fellow Democrat Steve Bullock in 2013; however many of those lawmakers that passed SB423, and overrode Schweitzer’s veto, remain in the legislature or in positions of power, making it unlikely that they will make any effort to work with the campaigns behind the voter initiative.

Then-House Speaker Republican Mike Milburn became chief of staff for state Attorney General Tim Fox. Former Majority Leader Republican Jeff Essmann, who introduced SB423, now serves as the head of the state’s Republican Party; and while he is no longer introducing legislation, he is in a position to design platforms for the GOP — who still control both state legislative houses following the general election.

Montana’s Legislative Session begins on Jan 2.

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