Montana Patients Deserve Safe, Affordable Access to Medical Cannabis
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Dear Sponsors of Senate Bill 333 and Members of the House Taxation Committee,
We, the undersigned, are reaching out on behalf of the 11,500 medical cannabis patients in Montana and the providers who care for them. Thank you for giving thoughtful consideration to our carefully outlined requests below.
We appreciate the effort of Senate Bill 333's sponsors to craft an accountable regulatory system for the medical marijuana industry. However, we cannot support amendments that gut patient cultivation or possession limits. We also believe it is inappropriate to tax patients' medicine, especially when a multi-million dollar revenue surplus already exists from registration fees alone. We have similar concerns about proposed ID cards with tracking chips.
Though patients have made a concerted effort to be responsible stakeholders in the legislative process, SB 333 has moved all the way through the Senate with concerns going unaddressed or further validated. For example:
-- A proposed sales tax on medical cannabis rose from 2% to 4%;
-- The Senate Taxation Committee approved patient ID cards with tracking chips;
-- And patient cultivation limits, which were already inadequate for some of Montana's most seriously ill to begin with, have been slashed from 4 mature plants and 12 seedlings to 2 mature plants and 4 seedlings.
Senate Bill 333 has been heavily influenced by corporate interests that continue to downplay valid concerns. This has made it difficult for other stakeholders to take part in the process. Thus far, suggested solutions from patient advocates have largely been ignored and many feel it's too far along in the process for meaningful improvement.
Barring significant amendments that address the concerns outlined above, we call on the Montana Legislature to table Senate Bill 333. This allows the Department of Health and Human Services to undertake rule making as voters intended with approval of Initiative 182 in November. Alternatively, we would like to see an interim committee established, which includes stakeholders from all sides, to study the issue and report back to the 2019 Legislature on how best to regulate the medical marijuana industry without unnecessarily stifling patient cultivation, possession or use.
Thanks again for your consideration of Montana's 11,500 patients and their compassionate care providers.
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