Senate Backs Embattled Medical Marijuana Overhaul

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – The Senate has backed a medical marijuana reform bill in an initial vote.

But the proposal still faces hurdles as lawmakers struggle with one of the session’s biggest issues.

The 38-12 vote Wednesday indicated support for the plan. A final vote scheduled later Wednesday will require the support of two-thirds of the chamber to ensure passage to the House. That means at least 34 senators must vote yes for it to pass.

Senate Majority Leader Jeff Essmann says Senate Bill 423 is a work in progress.

A last-minute change put regulatory authority with the Department of Labor and Industry instead of the Public Service Commission.

Supporters say the bill is the best hope left for regulating the industry. Some senators expressed concern over the changes to the last-minute measure.

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