July 13, 2016
HELENA— Advocates for a new medical marijuana initiative are celebrating today’s announcement from the Montana Secretary of State that I-182 has qualified for the November 2016 ballot.
“Montanans want a responsible, accountable law allowing access to medical marijuana for those battling cancer or with other debilitating illnesses,” said Jeff Krauss, Treasurer for Montana Citizens for I-182 and former Mayor of Bozeman. “That Montana voters came together to place I-182 on the ballot in less than 60 days is a testament to the strong support Montanans have for patients’ right to safe and legal access.”
Supporters of I-182 began circulating petitions on April 20th and were able to collect enough signatures by the June 17th deadline to qualify the citizens’ initiative for the ballot, completing a successful petition drive in just 58 days. The I-182 petition now has 26,688 valid signatures statewide and enough signatures to qualify in 49 house districts. The Montana Constitution requires 5 percent of qualified electors (24,175 statewide) and 5 percent of qualified electors in one-third (34) of the state’s 100 house districts in order to be placed on the ballot.
“I am thrilled with the outcome of the signature gathering campaign, and I look forward to voting yes on 182 in November,” said Katie Mazurek, a 33-year-old attorney and mother of two from Bozeman who is battling cancer. “It is crucial that we pass I-182 on Election Day, to preserve access for cancer patients like me who benefit from medical marijuana.”
Mazurek was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in February. Her personal fight with cancer led her into the statewide fight over the future of medical marijuana in Montana. To learn more about Mazurek’s fight with cancer, go to her blog at https://kativeovercancer.com.
“I’m in the fight of my life and I need every tool possible to win this battle. Chemotherapy takes such a physical and mental toll on me, leaving me exhausted, nauseous and in pain. Some days are hard and medical marijuana helps me to deal with the side effects of the chemo. It improves my quality of life and enables me to be there for my husband and my kids. Medical marijuana is far less scary to me than the pain medication I currently have to take to function. I’m concerned that this treatment option will be taken away from me next month,” said Mazurek.
On August 31, due to the Montana Supreme Court upholding Senate Bill 423, new restrictions will go into effect that will limit medical marijuana providers to just three patients, effectively eliminating access for more than 12,000 Montanans who are using medical marijuana.
“I-182 will ensure that our friends and loved ones suffering from debilitating illnesses will maintain access to their medication. We need to do this for Katie and all the other Montanans who benefit from this medicine,” said Krauss.
In 2004, I-148 passed with 64% support from Montana voters, creating Montana’s first medical marijuana program. Since then, the Montana Legislature has repealed the act and replaced it with Senate Bill 423, a law that is unworkable for patients and providers and will effectively cut off access to medication for over 12,000 Montanans who need their medicine. The new law creates significant obstacles for patients, providers and growers, essentially eliminating medical marijuana as a viable, legal option for Montanans.
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 to 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; and
- Creating licensing fees to pay for the administration of the new law.
“I want to thank all of the Montanans who signed the petition and the staff and volunteers who helped gather those signatures. Their efforts mean so much to patients like me. As we celebrate this important step, we also shift focus to passing I-182 in November so that patients have safe, legal access to the medicine they need.” said Mazurek.