A Billings businessman submitted to the Montana Secretary of State’s office this week a proposal for a 2016 ballot initiative that would ban the use of medical marijuana in Montana.
The paperwork was submitted by Steve Zabawa, a car dealer who proposed the same initiative in 2014 but failed to collect the necessary 24,175 signatures.
Zabawa seeks to change state law to say that any Schedule I drug in the federal Controlled Substances Act, which includes marijuana, “may not be legally possessed, received, transferred, manufactured, cultivated, trafficked, transported or used in Montana.”
In 2004, Montana voters passed an initiative to legalize marijuana for medical purposes.
The state Legislature clamped down on medical marijuana use in 2011, bringing the total number of patients from 30,036 down to 10,565 by January 2015, according to a report by the state health department. The same report lists 209 physicians associated with the state’s medical marijuana patients and 390 providers.
Gallatin County has the most medical marijuana patients of any county with 2,134, ahead of Flathead (1,286) and Missoula (965). The average age of the patients is 47. The most common condition listed by medical marijuana patients is severe chronic pain.