Editor's note: This is another in the continuing series in which Montanans can ask the major political party candidates for governor about the issues.
HELENA — None of the six major political party candidates for governor supports legalizing the medical use of marijuana or decriminalizing the possession of marijuana in Montana.
Lawrence ‘‘Butch'' Turk, a registered nurse from Missoula who is a trainer in emergency medical care and political action, posed this question to the candidates:
‘‘What is your position on legalization of marijuana use for medical purposes and decriminalization of marijuana possession for all Montanans?''
The Lee Newspapers State Bureau forwarded Turk's question to the four Republican and two Democrats seeking their respective party's nomination in the June 8 primary election.
Montana voters may get to vote on the medical marijuana question because a group has proposed a ballot initiative to legalize the use of marijuana for this purpose. The proposal is being reviewed by state agencies before supporters can begin gathering signatures.
Here are the candidates' responses:
Ken Miller, Republican, furniture outlet store owner and former state senator from Laurel: ‘‘I oppose it.''
Brian Schweitzer, Democrat, Whitefish farmer-rancher: ‘‘I don't support legalizing marijuana. We need strict penalties for criminals who manufacture drugs or sell to kids. We also need a system to get people off drugs. More than three-quarters of inmates are incarcerated on drug and alcohol-related offenses. Drug users continue using behind bars, re-offend after parole, and go back in prison. Incarcerating these people is a huge budget strain on the state. Let's create drug treatment programs for non-violent addicts. Work programs and drug testing will produce productive citizens. Results aren't measured by long prison sentences, but by how many people overcome their addictions.''
John Vincent, Democrat, Gallatin County commissioner from Gallatin Gateway and former state legislator: ‘‘The worst of our drug problems is methamphetamine, and our criminal justice system is increasingly burdened with offenders who have horrendous chemical addictions. Overburdened and underfunded law enforcement agencies are hard pressed to meet the threat of drugs and protect us from associated crimes, so an argument could be made that decriminalization of marijuana would allow law enforcement and our entire criminal justice system to focus more on meth and other hard drugs. I cannot make that argument. The day may come when Montanans choose to decriminalize marijuana. On an issue of this importance, the people should decide.''
Bob Brown, Republican, secretary of state and former legislator from Whitefish: ‘‘The case has not been made for medical marijuana. It is a dangerous narcotic that has contributed far more to social ills than any medical ills it could relieve. The use of marijuana should remain illegal.''
Pat Davison, Republican, business consultant from Billings: ‘‘I oppose legalization and/or decriminalization of marijuana.''
Tom Keating, Republican, petroleum landman and former state senator from Billings: ‘‘I oppose legalization of marijuana for any reason.''
Note: To ask questions of candidates for governor, readers may send them to Johnson at the Lee Newspapers State Bureau, P.O. Box 1676, Helena, Mont. 59624. Readers may fax questions to this number (406) 443-0034 or e-mail them to: email@example.com. Participants are asked to include their occupations, addresses and phone numbers for verification and list their occupations and ask a question aimed at all six major party candidates — not one candidate — and ask one that hasn't been asked before in this series.