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State Senator Addresses Medical Marijuana Advocates

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Billings - New requirements for patients to obtain medical marijuana cards took effect Wednesday.

Billings Republican State Senator Jeff Essman sponsored the medical marijuana reform bill responsible for the change. Five weeks after the legislative session closed, he found himself defending that bill in front of a group composed mostly of patients and caregivers.

Essman was a guest at a weekly speaker-series hosted by Billings Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, which typically only attracts a handful of people. Wednesday night, dozens of medical marijuana advocates turned out.

"I think I know why a lot of you are here, and I'll be happy to answer your questions," Essman said in his opening remarks.

Some in attendance couldn't hold their questions until the end and were shown the door. Others apologized for their less-civil counterparts, and thanked the Senate majority leader for his time even if they didn't like his answers.

Essman's Senate Bill 423 repeals much of Montana's medical marijuana law and places more restrictions on patients, caregivers, and doctors.

Essman acknowledges the legislation isn't perfect, but says it can be tweaked, and reform couldn't wait. He says his constituents gave him a mandate for major reform of the voter-passed initiative.

"What I heard from the voters of my district, was frankly they were not very happy with what had developed in the state of Montana in respect to Marijuana," he said.

Cannabis advocates say the new restrictions effectively legislate out their medicine. "At any given time, any one of you that follows the law will be breaking the law," said one man in attendance as he addressed Essman and the crowd.

Patients say they're incapable of producing cannabis products in non-smoked forms, and new restrictions mean they can't grow enough cannabis for their needs. Many argued that requirements forcing caregivers to work without compensation would never be imposed upon other industries such as pharmaceutical companies.

Medical marijuana advocates filed an injunction seeking to block the reform bill in May.

Repeal advocates aren't satisfied either. The Billings City Council is due to consider an emergency ban on caregivers. If that measure passes, it would take effect before similar conditions do in the state law.

Essman says he believes there will be several competing voter initiatives dealing with medical marijuana on the 2012 ballot.

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: kulr8.com
Author: Kyle Midura
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: KULR-8 Television
Website: State Senator Addresses Medical Marijuana Advocates
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