Marijuana advocate submits 2014 ballot proposal

Associated Press Published: November 23, 2012
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HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Buoyed by the success of voter initiatives in Washington and Colorado, an East Helena medical marijuana advocate has refiled a proposal to make the recreational use of pot a constitutional right in Montana.

The proposed constitutional initiative by Barb Trego is the first 2014 ballot question submitted to the secretary of state for approval. It duplicates the one she put forward last year, but which did not make it on the 2012 ballot because backers failed to collect the required signatures in time.

Trego is a medical marijuana user who says switching from prescription medications to pot allowed her to go back to work. She said she supports recreational use in addition to allowing medical use of the drug.

"The fact is it's a lot less dangerous for you than alcohol and I think people ought to have a choice," she said.

This year, Colorado and Washington passed voter initiatives legalizing recreational use. That has given hope to Montana marijuana advocates despite their recent defeat at the ballot box to roll back a restrictive medical marijuana law.

Trego said the votes in Colorado and Washington are encouraging, but doesn't know whether they are a proper gauge for Montana, which has always gone its own way.

"Montana's always been different, so I don't know if they'll help or not," Trego said. "I think people are going to be more interested this time with the way they've done the medical marijuana law and the way it doesn't work for anybody."

Republican state Sen. Jeff Essmann, who authored the new legislative restrictions for medical marijuana use and distribution, said he does not believe Montana voters will go the way of Colorado and Washington.

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