Medical marijuana bill clears Senate; House is next

February 24th, 2009 – HELENA — A bill giving medical-marijuana patients better access to the drug won final approval from the state Senate Tuesday, sending it on to the House for consideration.

The Senate passed the bill on a 28-22 vote, picking up some additional support since the measure won preliminary endorsement Saturday by a 25-24 margin.

Senate Bill 326, sponsored by Sen. Ron Erickson, D-Missoula, makes several changes to the medical-marijuana law that Montana voters put into place by initiative in 2004.

The law allows physicians to recommend that certain patients suffering from chronic pain be allowed to smoke or ingest marijuana to relieve the pain or otherwise treat their disease, such as glaucoma.

SB326 increases the amount of marijuana that a patient or “caregiver” can possess from one ounce to three ounces; allows patients to get the drug from more than one licensed caregiver; allows licensed growers to have six “mature” plants rather than just six plants; and adds some additional medical conditions or diseases that can be legally treated by marijuana, such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Erickson has said the bill makes practical changes in the program so it will work better for those who need it. Full article here.

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