By Daniel Person | Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Gov. Brian Schweitzer will allow a major overhaul of Montana’s medical marijuana act to become law, the governor told the Chronicle editorial board this afternoon.
Schweitzer was highly critical of the reform bill, which will allow caregivers to serve no more than three patients and bar people from accepting money for medical marijuana.
However, he said he cannot allow the Montana’s current medical marijuana law — which has allowed marijuana businesses to flourish and the number of marijuana patients in Montana to balloon beyond 30,000 people — to continue.
“With the structure we have in place now, we have people using Montana law to smoke marijuana just to smoke it. That’s what I believe,” Schweitzer said.
He said he will not sign the bill. However, under state law, bills passed by the Legislature become law if the governor does not act within 10 days of receiving the legislation.
In the final days of the session, Schweitzer had tried to amend Senate Bill 423 to allow caregivers to have up to 25 patients and allow them to make money from selling medicinal pot. Using an amendatory veto, Schweitzer also struck language that he said violated people’s privacy rights.
House and Senate Republicans on Thursday accepted the amendments dealing with patient privacy but held firm to the three-patient and no-profit provisions.
Schweitzer criticized the plan on Friday, saying it will de-centralize marijuana growing in the state, making it more difficult to monitor where the drug is going.
“We’re going to have 10,000 people growing marijuana. Let’s say 90 percent of them are on the complete up and up. That means 10 percent are selling marijuana in the alley,” he said.
But he was skeptical of the argument that the law will make it nearly impossible for legitimate users to get marijuana.
“My guess is there will be a very active business in not producing marijuana, but selling grow-boxes to help people to grow marijuana,” he said.
And he was unequivocal about the effect the law will have on marijuana businesses across the state, some of which provide pot to hundreds of people.
“July 1, they’re out of business,” he said.