By Tim Leeds 

Committee takes wait-and-see stance on medical marijuana action


A Havre City Council committee that planned to discuss implementation of new regulations on medical marijuana decided to wait Tuesday night to see what happened with the bill.

"We may not have any problems other than just to watch the challenges in the legal process, " said Planning and Development Committee Chair Janet Trethewey.

Committee member Pam Hillery asked what actions will be taken if the governor does not veto the bill and it becomes law this week.

Havre Mayor Tim Solomon said the the law will not take effect immediately.

"(The medical marijuana caregivers) will have time to liquidate, or whatever they are going to do to meet state law, " he said.

He told Hillery that, once the law does go into effect, city officials will check the registered caregivers to make sure they are following the new laws.

Council member Cal Long pointed out that the new law would not prohibit medical marijuana caregivers, just limit their operations. There could be numerous smaller caregivers with smaller operations, he said.

The medical marijuana moratorium imposed by the city, prohibiting new operations in the city, ended in the last few weeks.

The committee also mentioned that lawsuits seem to be pending to oppose the new law.

The issue was one of the biggest topics at the 2011 Legislature. A proposal by an interim committee died early, then a proposal to repeal the 2004 ballot initiative that legalized medical marijuana passed the Legislature but was vetoed by Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

The bill now sitting on Schweitzer's desk continues to allow medical marijuana, but severely limits its provision,

Under the bill, no items of value including money can change hands in provisions of medical marijuana by registered providers to patients, and the number of patients a caregiver can serve is limited to three, including the provider.

The medical marijuana community in Montana has discussed suing over the provisions of the bill, and also are talking about starting a petition drive that would delay its enactment and put it on the ballot in the 2012 election.

"It's not a dead issue. It will be back, " Trethewey said.


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