30 Day Countdown for I-182 to Make the 2016 Ballot

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Montana Citizens for I-182 Update

May 19, 2016

HELENA – With just 30 days left until all petitions for citizens’ initiatives must be submitted to county election offices, Montana Citizens for I-182 is asking Montanans for continued support to help qualify I-182 for the November ballot.

“Recent court decisions and legal action have placed an increased importance on qualifying I-182, Montana’s NEW Medical Marijuana initiative, by the legal deadline on June 17th,” said Kate Cholewa, a spokesperson for Montana Citizens for I-182.  “On August 31st, new policies will go into effect that will deny more than 12,000 Montanans who suffer debilitating illnesses access to their medicine.  That’s wrong and I-182 is the best option Montanans have to secure access to Medical Marijuana.”

According to Montana Citizens for I-182, more than 125 volunteers and staff have been collecting signatures throughout Montana for the petition.  As of May 19th the campaign reports it has collected over 18,000 signatures, one half of the campaign goal of collecting 36,000 signatures in advance of the deadline. Montana Citizens for I-182 needs to collect 24,175 valid signatures before Friday, June 17th, 2016.

“We are in the final push,” said Cholewa.  “From our field work we know Montanans want a responsible, accountable law allowing access to medical marijuana for those with debilitating illnesses. Friends and loved ones suffering from such ailments deserve the choice of safe, legal relief that marijuana can provide. There’s a lot of uncertainty right now. People are concerned, particularly we’re hearing from those with cancer.”

Initiative 182 is one of four ballot issues related to marijuana that is seeking support from Montanans to be on the 2016 ballot.  I-182 is the only initiative that addresses medical marijuana access. One ballot proposal would repeal the current medical marijuana law and make marijuana use totally illegal in Montana, while two others would provide for recreational use of marijuana.

If I-182 makes it on the ballot and voters pass the initiative on November 8th Montanans will again have access to medical marijuana.

“I’m in the fight of my life against cancer and should not be denied access to medicine that alleviates the horrible side effects of chemotherapy,” said Katie Mazurek, a 33-year-old attorney and mother of two from Bozeman, was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in February. Her personal fight with cancer led her into the statewide battle over the future of medical marijuana in Montana.

“Cancer patients like me need safe access to medical marijuana. I am a supporter of I-182 and I encourage all Montanans to get behind this important effort,” said Mazurek.

In 2004, 64% of Montana voters passed a law creating a medical marijuana program, but the Montana Legislature repealed the act in 2011 and replaced it with a new law that fails to meet patient’s needs. Recently the Montana Supreme Court set August 31st as the implementation date for the replacement law to take effect, thus the urgency of I-182.

Several Montana medical marijuana patients and the Montana Cannabis Industry Association recently appealed the Montana Supreme Court’s decision to the United States Supreme Court. They argue the Montana Supreme Court used the wrong criteria for their decision. 

According to the sponsors, the new medical marijuana initiative, I-182, addresses concerns over the previous law and ensures accountability to all Montanans by:

  • Requiring providers obtain licenses and receive unannounced yearly inspections.
  • Allowing for product testing to ensure safety, consistency and accurate dosages.
  • Providing access to veterans and other patients diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Removing the three person patient limit for providers.
  • Creating licensing fees to pay for the administration of the new law.