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Our Legislature, it seems, has dissociative disorder when it comes to voter referendums. Just a few weeks ago, they announced plans to go to the voters with key pieces of legislation in order to sidestep gubernatorial vetoes. The will of the people should prevail, they argued.

But in a schizophrenic turnaround, they now plan to repeal a voter initiative that made legal the use of medical marijuana. The will of the people be damned.

The medical marijuana law has had unintended consequences to be sure. But that's because lawmakers failed to do their job in the first place.

The voter-initiative provisions in the Montana Constitution are populist in nature. The framers of the 1972 document wanted it that way.

But it also poses problems.

When lawmakers consider new legislation, proposals are written up by legislative staff, including some lawyers, and often include many pages of legalese to ensure that new laws stay true to the spirit in which they are intended.

Voter initiatives have to be boiled down to an almost bumper-sticker brevity to be workable on a ballot. So, in essence, voters are asked to pass judgment on the spirit of new legislation. And it falls to lawmakers to follow up with the details to ensure those initiatives fulfill their intent.

In the case of medical marijuana, legislators fell down on the job. They ignored the new status of marijuana like it didn't even exist for years. The result: a runaway patchwork of distribution and prescriptions almost for the asking.

Now there are thousands of Montanans who use marijuana for "medicinal" purposes. A great deal of that is legitimate; some of it, undoubtedly, is not. Either way, it's fair to say that most Montanans never contemplated such widespread use when they voted for the initiative.

Now the Legislature - in another case of failed responsibility - is contemplating repealing the whole darned thing.

That's unacceptable.

It's time for lawmakers to do the work they were elected to do: Start filling in the blanks in the voter-approved medical marijuana statute with some sensible set of regulations that will fulfill the spirit of what voters approved.

Don't repeal it. Fix it.

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