By "Radical" Russ Belville
HELENA, MT – A prominent Ravalli County Republican lawmaker wants to overturn Montana’s 2004 voter-passed law that legalized medical marijuana, saying the current scheme controlling prescription pot is fatally flawed.
Sen. Jim Shockley, R-Victor, has requested a bill be drafted for the 2011 Legislature to repeal the marijuana law.
However, Shockley said he believes marijuana has medical benefits and should remain legal, only in a much more controlled way.
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“It was a good idea, poorly executed,” Shockley said Tuesday. “I wouldn’t want everybody growing (prescription painkiller) Percocet, either.”
Some 62 percent of Montana voters approved medical marijuana by initiative in 2004. It allows Montanans to get certifications from doctors to buy up to one ounce of marijuana at a time from a licensed caregiver
The state has more than 2,700 licensed caregivers, according to state information, and more than 15,000 citizens with medical marijuana cards.
The explosive growth in the industry, coupled with a handful of violent acts involving medical marijuana businesses and growers, has prompted a crackdown on the industry around the state in recent months. City councils across Montana have voted to suspend new licenses for medical marijuana businesses and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes voted to outlaw medical marijuana entirely for tribal members on the Flathead Indian Reservation.
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The violent acts in question were the fire-bombings of medical marijuana dispensaries. That’s not something you can blame the dispensaries for, but rather the opponents of medical marijuana.
Violent acts involving growers are usually home invasion robberies. All of these problems are not indictments of medical marijuana, but indictments of cannabis prohibition for healthy people..
Shockley said the current system has no controls for growing marijuana, dosage and distribution. He said there’s really nothing stopping a cardholder from abusing their marijuana and seeking constant refills.
There has “been uncontrolled use of the drug,” he said. “I think it breeds lawlessness.”
Shockley said an appropriate, controlled system of medical marijuana was too complicated for the initiative process.