Pubdate: Tue, 22 Mar 2011
Source: Missoulian (MT)
Copyright: 2011 Missoulian
Author: Keila Szpaller, The Missoulian


In a roundabout way, Missoula Police Chief Mark Muir's trip to Helena
to testify for repealing the Medical Marijuana Act worked out well for

So said Barry Adams, a military veteran and medical marijuana card
holder who spoke Monday before the Missoula City Council in support of
the 2004 citizen initiative.

"I want to thank the police chief for going there and speaking because
otherwise, we wouldn't have had the chance to have this debate," said
Adams, who chimed in at several points during the meeting.

After wordsmithing, the Missoula City Council voted 9-3 to approve a
resolution opposing House Bill 161. The bill in Helena would repeal
the Medical Marijuana Act, backed 3-to-1 in the city of Missoula in
2004 election.

The chief's testimony that repeal was a "very viable option" sparked
controversy in Missoula and even a call for the chief's resignation by
Montanans for Responsible Legislation. One veteran was less charitable
than Adams about the police chief's statements to the Montana

In Helena for a hearing on the bill, Dennis Gulyas said Muir's words
and presence in uniform hurt the cause of veterans whom he represents.
He called on the council to make amends with the resolution.

"I was there representing the veterans, and it did a lot of damage,"
Gulyas said of the chief's testimony.

Mayor John Engen continued to back Muir and said he has no interest in
removing the police chief from his job. The chief offered legislators
his perspective as a law enforcement officer, the mayor said - not the
city's official position.

"Mark Muir is a fantastic public servant," said Engen, who said
regulation and not repeal is the answer.

Pitched by Councilman Jason Wiener, the resolution as drafted notes
the council doesn't wish to overturn the will of the voters: "The
Council opposes HB 161 and any attempts to overturn I-148 or to
disallow the compassionate allowance for the medical use of marijuana
. (the) Council requests the (administration) cease the advocacy of
City ... employees in their official capacity for repeal of (the Act)."

But some members of the public testified the act is being abused.
Carrie Anderson, a nurse, said she sees pregnant women who tell her
they consumed marijuana to deal with feeling nauseated. She said the
nausea lasts just a few weeks, but the women keep smoking and harm
their babies.

"I've seen that more than once," Anderson said.

Councilors Lyn Hellegaard, Renee Mitchell and Dick Haines opposed the
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