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Voters asked to ratify or repeal medical pot law

Associated Press Modified: November 3, 2012 at 10:01 am •  Published: November 3, 2012

On Friday, Reynolds issued another temporary restraining order blocking the provider limitations once more. The judge acknowledged in his order that the Supreme Court's ruling meant the advocates have less of a chance to win the case, but he would block those provisions while the case was still in his hands to prevent users from suffering immediate harm.

The ruling gives medical marijuana users a temporary reprieve, but makes Tuesday's vote that much more important for people like Burnam and her provider, Katrina Farnum.

Farnum said has cut down her plants at least twice to comply with the new law, meaning the users under her care have an unstable, limited supply.

She is now waiting to see whether the voters ratify the new law. Even if they do, Farnum is uncertain whether she will continue as a provider.

"I would, if I could physically afford it," Farnum said. "I would help these people without a doubt, if I could even break even."

Even if the new law is repealed, most people on both sides of the issue agree the old law needs to be improved.

The matter will likely come up before lawmakers in the 2013 legislative session. But former medical marijuana advocate and lobbyist Tom Daubert said he is not optimistic, given the opposition in the Legislature and disunity among advocates.

"I don't see anything other than a steep hill if the object is to make something that works for patients," Daubert said. "The real patients that Montana voters really wanted to help are the ones who are screwed."

Farnum has already had to choose which three patients she will keep if the law takes effect and she decides to keep operating. She drew names from a hat, then made changes when those whose names she drew told her to choose those in their last stages of life.

That's how Burnam came to stay on her list.

Burnam said she doesn't know what she'll do if the law is upheld by voters and Farnum goes out of business. She can't grow her own, because she doesn't know how and because the new law makes it illegal for her to obtain seeds or plants.

"Unless I happen to be one of the lucky three, the only option I have is to go to the black market or kick up my morphine to where I'm a freaking vegetable," she said. "I want to enjoy the time I've got with my family, eating and laughing."