Medical marijuana bill heading to the House after clearing Senate

February 26, 2009

(ChattahBox) — Senate Bill 326, sponsored by Sen. Ron Erickson, D-Missoula, 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.

Six Republicans – Sens. Jerry Black of Shelby, John Brueggeman of Polson, Aubyn Curtiss of Fortine, Rick Laible of Darby, Dave Lewis of Helena and Terry Murphy of Cardwell – joined 22 of the Senate’s 23 Democrats in voting for the bill Tuesday.

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.  The bill also 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.

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.

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

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