Oct 25, 2012 2:43 PM by Dennis Bragg - KPAX News
HAMILTON- Ravalli County Sheriff Chris Hoffman is urging voters to reject a proposal to once again revise Montana's marijuana laws, saying legislative changes now in place have helped cut drug-related crimes.
Voters are being asked to approve Initiative Referendum 124, which aims to restore the medical marijuana laws previously enacted by initiative but overturned by the Montana Legislature through Senate Bill 423.
That rule change in 2011, which Hoffman notes has already been supported by the Montana Supreme Court, set limits of "no more than three patients per provider", with a "no money for product" provision, setting standards for "chromic pain" and reviews of doctors' "recommendations and practices."
Hoffman is concerned that the ballot language, which gives voters the options of voting "for" or "against" Senate Bill 423, is "confusing" and has generated a lot of questions to him from Ravalli County residents.
In a letter to the editor sent to local media this week, Hoffman encourages people to vote "for" Senate Bill 423. He says the "less ambiguous" rule changes enacted by the Legislature have created a "dramatic reduction" in the number of patients and providers, while still providing "options" for patients with "real identified needs."
Hoffman says from a law enforcement perspective, authorities have seen a decline in incidents "involving thefts, burglaries, serious assaults and even homicides relating to the marijuana industry." The sheriff believes the legislation "translates to safer communities, a true benefit to all."
Below is Hoffman's full letter.October 24, 2012
I have received questions from community members who are confused about Ballot Measure- Initiative Referendum Number 124. This issue relates to the Montana Marijuana Act and the language on the ballot is very confusing.
The issue relates to the change in the marijuana laws from the 2011 Legislature, Senate Bill 423. This change in the law, which has been reviewed and supported by the Montana Supreme Court, established limits "of no more than 3 patients per provider", "no money for product", "standards for establishing chronic pain" and "a review of doctor recommendations and practices".
Because of the changes under Senate Bill 423, Montana has seen a dramatic reduction in the number of patients and providers. SB 423 is more "industry" restrictive and far less ambiguous than the initial medical marijuana law while still providing patients who have real identified needs continued access to options.
Because of Senate Bill 423 law enforcement has seen a decline in incidents involving thefts, burglary, serious assaults and even homicides relating to the marijuana industry. This legislation translates to safer communities, a true benefit to all.
As a local leader of your law enforcement community I endorse and support Senate Bill 423.
The actual ballot language as it appears:
[ ] FOR Senate Bill 423, a bill which repeals I-148 and enacts a new medical marijuana program.
[ ] AGAINST Senate Bill 423, a bill which repeals I-148 and enacts a new medical marijuana program. A vote against Senate Bill 423 will restore 1-148.
As your Sheriff, I urge you to consider the impact to our community and vote FOR Senate Bill 423.
Chris Hoffman, Sheriff