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Group Aims to Repeal Montana Medical Marijuana Law

By Beacon Staff

GREAT FALLS – A group trying to repeal Montana’s medical marijuana law expects to have only about a week to collect the 24,000 signatures needed to get the initiative on the November ballot.

Attorney General Steve Bullock’s office has written a summary of the initiative proposed by Safe Community, Safe Kids and has set a deadline of noon on Friday for interested parties to comment or accept the wording that would appear on the ballot.

Afterward, the proposal goes to the secretary of state for final action. Organizers will then have to meet a June 18 deadline to collect the signatures, Montana Department of Justice spokeswoman Judy Beck said.

“The biggest challenge is time,” said Pam Christianson of Billings, one of the ballot initiative supporters, adding it “doesn’t sound too promising.”

Safe Community, Safe Kids formed in Billings after city officials approved licenses for 82 medical marijuana businesses. City officials on May 11 passed a six-month moratorium on new marijuana businesses.

In 2004, 62 percent of Montana voters approved a medical marijuana ballot initiative. After the Obama administration announced last year that it would not prosecute medical marijuana users, the pace of registrations quickened, with the number of pot cardholders swelling over the past year from about 3,000 to 15,000.

“We do believe that most of the people in Montana feel that this is not what they voted for,” said Christianson. “We believe that it is time to take back our great state, to end the mess that has been created.”

To get the measure on the ballot, the group will have to collect 24,337 signatures. The signatures must include at least 5 percent of registered voters from each of the state’s 34 House legislative districts.

Helena marijuana grower and caregiver Tom Daubert, who was involved in the medical marijuana ballot in 2004, doesn’t see opponents getting the signatures needed.

“It’s a huge undertaking,” he said.

If the attempt fails, said Christianson, organizers will lobby lawmakers to take action.

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