With thousands of votes still to be counted, all five ballot issues appeared to be heading toward passage late Tuesday.
With about the third of the vote in, 57 percent of voters favored Legislative Referendum 124, which asked Montanans to endorse the 2011 Legislature’s strict medical marijuana law.
That law regulates medical cannabis by banning payments to providers for marijuana or “related products,” limiting the number of patients each provider could supply to no more than three and requiring each patient to have two physicians verify their diagnosis.
The law was prompted by an explosion in the number of medical marijuana patients and the proliferation of a highly visible industry that sprouted in the wake of the successful 2004 citizen initiative allowing for the drug’s medicinal use.
Health insurance mandate
Voters were also throwing their support behind LR-122, the measure, which would prohibit the state and federal governments from requiring the purchase of health insurance or imposing a penalty, tax, fee or fine on those who don’t buy it.
The measure was leading with 65 percent of the vote.
If it passes, the measure is likely to be challenged in court because it contradicts a U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the mandate.
Nearly 68 percent of voters were backing LR-120, which would require that doctors notify parents or legal guardians at least 48 hours before performing an abortion, if the patient is younger than 16.
Notice would not required in the case of a medical emergency. Any doctor who failed to notify the parent or receive a waiver could face six months in jail and a $500 fine.
Many observers expect an immediate legal fight over the referendum.
Corporations aren’t people
The measure protesting the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision was leaning with nearly 76 percent of the votes cast.
LR-166 aims to build support for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which held that, like individuals, corporations and unions have free speech rights and can make unlimited campaign contributions.
Services for illegal immigrants
The measure leading by the largest margin late Tuesday was LR-121, which would deny illegal immigrants a long list of services and opportunities.
More than 78 percent of voters were backing the measure.
If the measure passes, illegal immigrants could not apply for state jobs, state licenses, unemployment benefits or rehabilitation services if they’re hurt on the job, nor would they be allowed to enroll in state universities or apply for financial aid.
The initiative would also deny illegal immigrants services available to crime victims and people with disabilities.
By KETTI WILHELM | UM School of Journalism