Senators endorsed a bill repealing medical marijuana shortly after 6 p.m. Thursday by a vote of 29-21. It needs one more, mostly procedural, vote to clear the chamber.
The Senate began arguing the repeal after a last minute push got HB 161 to the Senate floor by a one-vote margin.
Emotions ran high in the senate chamber while republicans and democrats clashed over the bill.
Sen. Ron Erickson (D-Missoula) said during the debate, "I hope good senator from Havre (referring to Sen. Rowlie Hutton (R-Havre)) that you respond to those hundreds and hundreds of emails (from patients begging to keep medical marijuana) and tell them 'No you don't need this.'"
Sen. John Brenden (R-Scobey) argued, "There is something drastically wrong with our situation. So I would urge the members of this committee to vote yes on the repeal."
House Bill 161, sponsored by Speaker of the House, Rep. Mike Milburn (R-Cascade) would undo the voter approved 2004 initiative. Supporters have argued medical marijuana is hurting communities and children. They say the situation has spiraled out of control and the law as it is written cannot be fixed.
Sen. Rowlie Hutton (R-Havre) says, "What we have right now in the state of montana is a mess. There are times when the most compassionate thing you can do is just do an intervention. This is one way, it's not the only way, but it's one way we can do an intervention."
However, opponents like Tom Daubert with Patients and Families United says legislators didn't try to fix to the law. Daubert says, "If this decision is allowed to stand, thousands of legitimate patients who suffer the kinds of conditions voters did intend to be addressed by this law are going to suffer unnecessarily."
The bill passed 29 to 21on a mostly party line vote. It still has to go in front of the senate for a third reading, but there is no debate on third readings.
If it passes it will then go to governor Schweitzer's desk. Many people think he will veto a repeal to a voter approved initiative.