During his first visit to a medical marijuana clinic, Gov. Brian Schweitzer reaffirmed his support for the industry Thursday while repeating his view that new legislation governing it is imminent and necessary.
The governor met with Rick Rosio, president and CEO of Missoula's Montana Pain Management, and heard about the challenges facing professional medical marijuana caregivers in Montana.
Rosio said the lack of regulation and standardized business practices hurts his business as much as it worries those who are unfamiliar with the applications and benefits of medical marijuana.
"If I sold hot dogs, I could go down and get a line of credit" from a commercial lender, he said. "With the cash flow I have, we could show the ability to generate tremendous revenue. But none of the financial institutions will work with us on a credit line because they don't understand the business."
Rosio also portrayed his business as a legitimate operation, pointing out that he pays taxes and noting his business has been acquired by Cannabis Science Inc., a publicly traded company based in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Schweitzer said earlier this month legalization of medical marijuana has not worked out as voters planned and the state needs a legislative fix. His comments were spurred by his belief that there are some in Montana who are smoking medical marijuana even if they don't need it.
"I think it's unrealistic to say to legitimate medical patients that have found benefit from medical marijuana that you can no longer access this," Schweitzer said. "I think we need to tighten up the laws. ... The business has gotten out ahead of the regulatory environment and we need to build some boundaries."
Schweitzer and Rosio agreed that the number of independent, commercial growers should be limited, and that taxing medical marijuana is probably necessary to pay for increased regulation.
Information from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com