Drug Law

Montana Lawmaker: Treat Medical Marijuana Like Grey Wolf

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A representative  in Montana has a novel approach to the regulation of medical marijuana suggesting that the Feds leave control up to the states, just as they have now done with the Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf.

This year, the western states will be allowed to decide their own managing of Grey Wolves because they were de-listed in state government budgets. Rep Diane Sands proposed the idea to “de-list” marijuana in an email that she sent to some of her Democratic colleagues. She said she will send the letter to her Republican legislators and Gov. Brian Schweitzer as well.

In an interview on Monday, Rep. Sands said that medical marijuana  acceptance and regulation is at a unique period in time, and now is when it should be addressed by the Federal Government. Rep. Sands  says that at present, there is little a state legislature can do to try and regulate medical marijuana  since the feds are keeping the hands of state lawmakers bound by keeping  it illegal on a federal level, but allowing the states to continue running medical marijuana programs.

With so many legal medical users of marijuana in the United States (estimates now top 1,000,000), and an entire industry now that supports many Americans, there is an uncertainty to medical marijuana patients and their families that  comes with the varying approach and opinion of medical marijuana by different Presidents and their appointed Attorney Generals and  department heads. Rep. Sands says there is no stability for the medical marijuana consumer.

In her email, according to the Billings Gazette, she wrote,

“ I think we all agree that states have an extremely limited ability to act and regulate medical marijuana, given the U.S. attorney’s most recent letter about the implications of marijuana’s controlled substances status.  It seems clear no initiative, state legislation or state court action can expand regulatory authority if the federal government chooses to exercise the Controlled Substances Act restrictions, It appears to me that there is a window of opportunity to change the federal status if states act together to request a ‘delist-and-provide-for-state-regulation’ model similar to wolf management.”

Earlier this year, grey wolves that were on the federal endangered species were de-listed under a federal budget bill that barred further court challenges on how states manage their own wolf populations. She says Governors of Medical Marijuana states should push the Federal Government in the effort to de-list medical marijuana.

Her collegue in the legislature, and the sponsor of the recent restrictive Montana Bill that will push many patients off the enrollment of the program said he disagrees with Ms. Sands approach. Jeff Essman said that he favors letting the US Food and Drug Administration study prescription drugs, like Sativex and treat marijuanas like other medicine. Of course, Rep. Essman would like the FDA to study it for a few years first despite the existence of thousands of studies supporting the medicinal effects of the raw product.