HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Creighton University School of Law

Monday, February 14, 2011

As Montana Goes, So Goes the Country?

The Montana state legislature has taken up two important patient liberty questions this session.  May physicians provide aid in dying (also described as physician assisted suicide) to terminally ill persons?  May marijuana be used for medical purposes?

 In December 2009, the Montana Supreme Court held that under Montana law, "a terminally ill patient's consent to physician aid in dying constitutes a statutory defense to a charge of homicide against the aiding physician."  Baxter v State, 224 P.3d 1211 (Mont. 2009).  If Senate Bill 116  were to pass, Montana law would override the court’s ruling and make physician aid in dying illegal.

Last week, the Montana House of Representatives voted to repeal the state’s six-year old medical marijuana law (House Bill 161).  According to a report in the New York Times, the move to repeal reflects both a change in the partisan make-up of the legislature and a marijuana industry whose size has far exceeded expectations.

- David Orentlicher

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