Montanans will vote Nov. 2 on a ballot initiative to protect patients, their doctors, and their caregivers from arrest and prosecution for the medical use of marijuana. The Billings Gazette says passage would make Montana the 10th state to allow medicinal use of marijuana, joining Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. The measure is being backed financially by the Marijuana Policy Project of Washington, D.C. While a recent Gazette State Poll shows that 58 percent of likely Montana voters approve of the measure, marijuana supporters face tough opposition.
Last week, the White House sent Scott Burns of the National Drug Control Policy Office on a multiple-city tour of Montana, where he spent the majority of his time speaking against the ballot measure. He said legalization of medical marijuana sends the wrong message to children. He also said federal law, which prohibits the use and possession of marijuana, trumps any of the permissive laws that states pass. “There is no safe harbor,” Burns cautioned. “If this initiative passes, the [Drug Enforcement Administration] is not going away. It is still illegal in the U.S. to possess marijuana.” Opponents also say the medical argument for marijuana is bogus. Burns said no credible medical authority, such as the American Medical Association, has ever endorsed the drug.