State should delay medical marijuana cutoff until year-end

Montana just can’t get marijuana right.

Voters in 2004 approved giving sick Montanans the right to use medical marijuana to alleviate pain, which sounded like a good idea. But problems cropped up right away. With barely any budget or staffing to get a medical marijuana program going, the concept languished for a few years.

Eventually, the state opened a program and people got medical marijuana cards. But then marijuana providers got greedy, sending caravans around the state signing people up for state marijuana cards without showing much discretion.

Folks brazenly smoked marijuana outside the Great Falls Civic Center during one of these events. Many Montanans were appalled people were taking advantage of a medical marijuana law to smoke pot for more recreational than medical reasons.

That prompted a backlash. After the caravans and all the abuse of the medical marijuana statute, conservative legislators struck back. A 2011 law cracked down on abuse, but went too far.

The 2011 law changes will end up cutting too many people who relied on marijuana for medical use off from a source. Those roving green card caravans exploited the intent of the law, but the 2011 Legislature pushed the pendulum too far the other way when attempting to rein in abusers.

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