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Governor calls for change in marijuana law


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Gov. Brian Schweitzer said Thursday that legalization of medical marijuana has not worked out as voters planned and that the state needs a legislative fix.

The medical marijuana law, passed with a 2004 ballot initiative, has become one of the hottest topics facing lawmakers as the state deals with an explosion in the number of medical marijuana patients, caregivers and growers.

Montana has seen a fivefold growth in cardholders in just one year thanks in large part to traveling clinics that sign up hundreds of new patients at a time with a doctor on site. A person must have a debilitating medical condition certified by a doctor to register as a medical marijuana patient with the state.

The explosion of retail stores selling the medical marijuana has prompted cities in the state to start making their own regulations limiting the growth of the industry.

An interim legislative committee is currently working with advocates, medical marijuana businesses, law enforcement and opponents in hopes of coming up with a joint plan for fixing the law.

Schweitzer said in an interview he is watching proposals as they come forward and that he expects lawmakers convening in January will have a lot of options. The governor said one of his agencies may pitch its own plan for the Legislature to consider.

"We'll let 'em boil it down a bit, and then we'll see if can add some of our own ideas," Schweitzer said.

Schweitzer said he recalls voters approving medical marijuana to help cancer patients and others with severe illness get a new kind of relief.

"That's what we voted for," he said. "I think now most people agree there are people smoking marijuana with a green card not because they need it, but because they want it."

Schweitzer said he has come up with one idea from his agriculture and soil science background. One part of the solution could be to require genetic branding of medical marijuana that would allow police to easily trace illegal marijuana to see if it originated from a caregiver selling the medical marijuana, he said.

That could help ensure that it is not making its way onto the streets and resold to kids.

"That's just one of the things we've got to do," Schweitzer said.

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Genetic branding?

What the hell? If a caregiver sells medicine to his/her patient; then it is no longer the caregivers respnsibilty. This is like saying branding alcohol in order to track the store that sold the alcohol. What if the kids got into thier parents liquor cabinet?

This makes no sense and shows just how much our wonderful governor knows about medical marijuana.

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