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Fallout From Medical Marijuana Reform, Repeal Felt Around Mont.

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MISSOULA, Mont. -- Fallout from the Senate bill that would sharply curtail Montana's medical marijuana industry is felt around the state. NBC Montana told you Wednesday night about a House committee vote that would slash the number of medical marijuana users by more than 90% from 28,000 to about 2,000.

Senate Bill 423 would take the money out of medical marijuana. A repeal bill sits on Gov. Brian Schweitzer's desk. Either bill would put people who own medical marijuana stores out of business.

When most medical marijuana dispensary owners started their business they couldn't get traditional loans. Many dipped into savings or asked friends and family for help. Now they're worried about what's going on in Helena.

Seth McGhee won't talk specifics when it comes to the amount of money he put into owning his own dispensary, but says he would lose tens of thousands of dollars if either medical marijuana bill passes.

McGhee says, "We'll have no choice but to lose an investment in this. I've put a lot of time and a lot of effort and a good chunk of money to have to a store on Higgins."

He is not the only one who'd be out of work. He would have to lay off seven employees. He estimates his business puts about $15,000 into the local economy. Advocate groups estimate there are about 200 dispensaries just like McGhee's across the state.

Tayln Lang, head of the Missoula chapter of the Montana Medical Growers Association, says, "Thousands would lose their jobs. I believe the unemployment rate would increase significantly. We're a state of only a million people so when thousands or tens of thousands of people lose their job it affects the state in a much more dramatic way."

McGhee knows he'll find little sympathy from Republican lawmakers in Helena, who say dispensary owners knew they were getting into a business still considered illegal by the feds.

Rep. Cary Smith (R-Billings) says, "To acquire it, to get seeds anywhere it's federally illegal, and so you're always going to have that particular problem where the person is going to get the marijuana from. That never has been spelled out thoroughly but the bottom line is it is illegal."

McGhee knows the medical marijuana options on the table in Helena don't look good for him, his business, or people he's come to think of as patients and friends.

Schweitzer has nine days left to make a decision on the repeal measure, House Bill 161. The reform bill will be voted on by the House in the coming days.

News Hawk- Jacob Husky 420 MAGAZINE
Source: nbcmontana.com
Author: Christian Hauser
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: Bonten Media Group
Website: Fallout From Medical Marijuana Reform, Repeal Felt Around Mont.
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