Proposed Initiative Could Ban All Marijuana Use in Montana: The Fight Against Smoking Pot

First Posted: Apr 21, 2014 02:50 PM EDT

Steve Zabawa, a car dealership owner in Billings, Montana, is proposing a ballot measure to ban all marijuana use in the state. Montana currently only allows the use of marijuana for those who are medically approved to do so.

Zabawa told Lee Newspapers of Montana that marijuana should be illegal if the federal government considers it an illegal drug. But as many have argued in the past, prescription drugs are considered illegal if they're not prescribed to you or if you obtained them on the black market. So if marijuana is prescribed to the state's 8,300 eligible patients, it's not being used illegally.

Even the federal government might not share the same viewpoint as Zabawa. There has been no response or action against Colorado and Washington - states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use. That said, the federal government considers marijuana a Schedule I drug, and Zabawa believes that the states should follow suit.

A total of 62% of Montana's voters approved marijuana for medical use on November 2, 2004 for patients with cachexia, severe or chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, and severe or persistent muscle spasms, among other conditions. But Initiative 148 was amended in July 2011, placing more strict requirements upon chronic pain patients, limiting physicians to recommending the drug to 25 patients per year, and penalizing patients under the influence of marijuana while driving. 

Thanks to California's Proposition 215 - the first statewide medical marijuana voter initiative adopted in the United States - various other states have studied marijuana to examine its medical effects on patients with certain conditions. The original proposition found "Scientific data indicate the potential therapeutic value of cannabinoid drugs, primarily THC, for pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation," as stated on the National Conference of State Legislatures website.

Ever since, there's been a growing presence of marijuana used in medical settings and it has helped patients with different conditions. Now, Zabawa is challenging two popular phenomena with his initiative: marijuana's effective use in medical patients and the constitutionally upheld rights of states.

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