A Montana group wants voters to decide whether to add constitutional protections to make it easier to prescribe and grow medical marijuana.
The Montana Cannabis Information Center, a group that supports marijuana use for medical purposes only, submitted the 2016 ballot measure to the Secretary of State’s office on Tuesday.
The group’s president said it is a proactive move that would repeal the Legislature’s restrictions on medical marijuana, a treatment option approved by Montanans in a 2004 referendum.
“In 2011, the Legislature overturned it in a devious way by going after doctors and growers,” association president Mort Reid said in a telephone interview Wednesday, referencing Senate Bill 423 sponsored by Rep. Jeff Essmann, R-Billings.
The bill required that doctors who wrote more than 25 medical marijuana prescriptions per year to be reviewed by the state’s Board of Medical Examiners. It also made it illegal for a grower to provide marijuana to more than three patients, and for the grower to charge for their product.
Following passage of the bill, the number of registered patients fell from 30,000 to about 8,000 a year later.
“Those provisions killed the industry,” Reid said. “People still have the option to grow their own but how does an 80-year-old with cancer have that ability to grow marijuana?”