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Feature: Medical Marijuana Madness in Montana

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #636)
Drug War Issues

With the number of medical marijuana patients expanding dramatically in the Big Sky State, with storefront operations springing up around the state, and with at least one group of medical marijuana advocates/entrepreneurs touring the state in a medical marijuana caravan complete with pot smoke-filled vans and doctors issuing instant recommendations via web cam, opposition to the way Montana's medical marijuana law is playing out is on the increase.

sign of the times
In 2004, 62% of Montana voters approved a medical marijuana ballot initiative. The number of registered patients and caregivers remained relatively low until last year, when the Obama administration announced that it would not prosecute medical marijuana users and providers in states where it is legal. At the beginning of last year, the number of registered medical marijuana cardholders was about 3,000. Now it is closing in on 15,000. And alongside the increase in registered patients has been a boom in "dispensaries," or caregiver storefront operations.

While growing concern is evident across the state, it has burned red hot in Billings, a city of about 100,000 people on I-90 in southeastern Montana, where Western conservatism is strong. There, things have turned ugly, with fire bomb attacks on two medical marijuana businesses a month ago as the city council approved a moratorium on new medical marijuana business licenses. Accompanying those attacks was graffiti painted across windows: "Not in our town," it said.

"That fire bombing was just terrorism," said Mike Meno, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which bankrolled the 2004 initiative. "There is no other word for it. Local activists are telling us that people opposed to medical marijuana think it is something you can still dispute, that it's not even legal. This kind of thing is leading both sides to sort of step back and try to pass some strong regulations so people understand these are law-abiding operations."

And just last week, a group calling itself Safe Communities, Safe Kids emerged in a controversial fashion as children coming home from the last day of school in some Billings schools carried with them flyers containing its anti-medical marijuana message -- although not its name. The school board said it shouldn't have happened.

Now, Safe Communities, Safe Kids is engaged in a quixotic quest to place an initiative to repeal the Montana Medical Marijuana Act on the November ballot. Success is extremely unlikely -- the group now has one week to collect 24,000 signatures -- but the effort highlights the deep antipathy developing toward medical marijuana in various quarters of the state.

The legislature is one of those quarters, and lawmakers are busily drafting a variety of measures aimed at reining in what they view as a medical marijuana program out of control. Yesterday, Gov. Bryan Schweitzer (D) told reporters he agreed that the program needed "a legislative fix" and that he was open to working with legislators in the new session later this year.

Mark Higgins operates Montannabis Inc. and Billings Medical Marijuana, which he is careful to point out is not a dispensary, although it serves more than 200 patients, making it likely the largest caregiver in Billings. "Dispensaries are illegal under Montana law, so we are more of a private club or storefront," he explained. "We can only sell to people who designate us as their caregivers and have our name on the back of their registration card."

"It's gotten pretty insane," Higgins said of the fire bombings, but he didn't attribute them to especially nefarious forces. "I saw video of it; it was young kids with long, black hair. Kids don't think; they push it to extremes and don't think about the consequences."

Higgins is the only caregiver sitting on the city council's ad hoc committee on medical marijuana, and he ran for city council last year after the council ignored his efforts to get zoning requirements for medical marijuana storefronts. Things were getting out of hand, he said.

"The reason for the fire bombings and the parents and the initiative is that some people put marijuana storefronts close to schools, I mean really close," he said. "Who are these people trying to attract? Why would they go to locations like that? That upset a lot of people."

While the location and brazenness of some Billings operations may have inflamed what Higgins called "the West side Christian women," pushing the limits of what the law allows has caused concern and anger statewide. The above-mentioned "caravan" in particular has gotten under people's skin.

"The biggest thing is that for about a year now, a group that calls itself the Montana Caregivers Network has been going around the state holding clinics in different towns in which they have gotten physicians' recommendations for as many as a thousand patients in a single day," said Tom Daubert, who has the point man for the successful 2004 medical marijuana initiative. "They're doing it with physicians on web cams in other states, advertising no medical records necessary. They are very visible, and the guy running the group smokes pot openly. They had dozens of caregivers with big buckets of weed, and they sometimes sell to people who aren't registered. It's hellacious, it's irresponsible, and it's ridiculously stupid politically. It has incited a lot of the backlash."

Drug War Chronicle attempted to contact the Montana Caregivers Network, but the phone number listed on its web site is not a working number and the group has yet to respond to email inquiries.

"There are also a handful of folks who have created dispensaries that are similarly ridiculous in image," Daubert continued. "There are people with no business experience, sometimes with non-drug felony records opening dispensaries near schools, putting flowering plants on the porch, and just generally pushing the margins. And just as pseudo-activist ganja-preneurial craziness has taken on a life of its own, so has the backlash."

"The law needs to be fixed," said Daubert. "Even the folks who advocated for it and helped write it, we're in agreement with law enforcement on what needs to be done."

While Daubert agreed with the governor, law enforcement, and members of the legislature on the need for a legislative fix, Higgins didn't. While there is a need to suitably regulate medical marijuana storefronts, that should be a municipal issue, said Higgins, arguing that the Montana Medical Marijuana Act is working. "I think our system is fine," he said. "It's not broken and doesn't need to be fixed. All you have to do is follow the letter of the law. That's what I do."

But not everyone follows his example, he said. "There are people more willing to operate in grey areas, and there are a lot of caregiver to caregiver transfers and people who grow as wholesalers. That's not legal unless all those storefronts are their patients," Higgins explained. "The only people we can buy from are our patients. If I have a patient growing his own six plants, he can only possess one ounce of dried usable medicine, so as soon as he harvests, he's over the limit. As his caregiver, I can buy an ounce back from him. That's what we do."

A legislative interim committee is in the process of discovering how much consensus there is for legislation on the issue, Daubert said. A full Health Committee meeting is set for June 28 to discuss various proposals, and if there is consensus, committee staff could spend the summer drafting a bill for the committee to review in the fall.

For Daubert, Colorado is a model for how to regulate medical marijuana. "Why not do what Colorado has just done?" he asked. "At a minimum, I see two main thrusts: One would be tightening up the doctor recommendations to require a physical exam and diagnosis and/or a review of medical records. The doctor will have to be physically present in Montana. And it's likely there will be language prohibiting any kind of financial connection between doctors and caregivers," he said.

"The other thrust will be toward much more oversight and record-keeping and auditing and inspection of licensed products," Daubert said. "I'm advocating for recordkeeping that documents a closed-loop system, so we can document there is no diversion rather than arguing about it. Thanks to people being crazy and doing things like smoking openly, there is this mythology that there is a lot of diversion going on. This would address that."

If the legislature is going to act, said Higgins, there are some issues of patient-friendliness it should address. "If I wanted to expand my business and service the whole state, there is no way I could physically do that, so I would have to hire couriers," explained. "But there is nothing in Montana law that says that's legal. Also, they need to clarify on edibles. I don't provide them to my patients because it's a grey area," he said. "But we do give them recipes."

But from the look of it, helping the medical marijuana business thrive doesn't look to be high on lawmakers' agenda. The medical marijuana community is going to have to organize and fight to protect its interests, and if it can't find a way to police itself, lawmakers are going to be only too happy to take on the task.

"It's a shame," said Daubert. "We've been working on a careful strategy to use medical to get toward legalization. It was working until medical blew up in our faces."

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Doobie (not verified)

I see that the listed number you tried to call wasn't working. If you'd like to contact the Montana Caregiver's Network, the number is (406) 207-7078. Their executive director is Jason Christ (yes, pronounced with a hard "i" as in "Jesus Christ"), and his email is [email protected]. I know this because I received a letter from his group describing Mr. Christ as "an active provacateur" and that "his current situation is akin to that of Harvey Milk and the Gay Rights Movement in San Francisco in the 1970's." You might also try (406) 202-2290.

Fri, 06/11/2010 - 11:40am Permalink
Shabazz (not verified)

First of all his name is not pronounced with a hard "i", it's a soft i. . .as in Chris or Christina. And there is no reason his personal cell phone number should be on the internet, violation of privacy BIG TIME, unless he himself told you to put it there.

And, as for Montana Caregivers Network being to difficult to contact, I just did a google search and up popped their correct phone #, I even dialed it to make sure.

The reason Jason and Montana Caregivers Network travel to see people throughout the state, as well as online, is to be serve greater and rural Montana. Some of these patients are bed-ridden making it impossible to drive hundreds of miles to the nearest doc who might recommend medical cannabis.

The day of the mass clinic run is over. Now that most everyone who needs their card has it, things are starting to slow down. from what I understand they are seeing an average of 50 patients per stop these days. The demand is most definitely slowing.

Fri, 06/11/2010 - 2:53pm Permalink
L. Ron Hubbard IV (not verified)

Me? I was made in Montana. L.Ron Hubbard comes from my hometown. Everybody knows "Montana Breeds The Bizzare". Every state has it's "Dumb Hicks". I know that the state where I exsist has it's share of "Dumb Colorado Hicks". Montana is a drinker's Paradise, with few cops, because the people can't afford them. It's another place where good old boys usually get what they want.

ONLY a Sadist would deprive the sick their medicine...

Fri, 06/11/2010 - 5:34pm Permalink
notstewpid (not verified)

it is all about the money.......doctors are most just whores to the pharmaceutical industry, the MJ industry hasn't bribed them enough yet I guess? Do me a favor, and the next time a doctor prescribes a pill for whatever ails up on the side effects before you consume might change your mind and want MJ instead.......cause MJ won't kill ya

Sat, 06/12/2010 - 10:04am Permalink
Murph (not verified)

Montana has great People!

Unfortunately, Montana also has, like most any place in the USA, a few nuts who care only about themselves and in this case to fill their pockets with cash as fast as possible. They do NOT seem to care about others, or the Community,
or the State, or the USA in general. Nor do they seem to care about the thousands of suffering people with debilitating conditions, who are often disabled (and thus protected by the American's with Disabilities Act or ADA, a federal law protecting those with disabilities from discrimination), and get tremendous help from medical marijuana (with practically zero side-effects).

Persons authorized to use medical marijuana also can effectively and simply control dosage hour by hour -- not something you can do with a pill as once you take it your body will continue to process it at that amount. So medical marijuana will, without question, soon be found (as soon as research is allowed, that has so far been completely restricted by the Federal Government) to be one of the best medication sources in the new century, just wait. No one has yet even determined exactly the helpful properties in marijuana. Wouldn't it be great if it is found to cure or help cancer, MS, or a multitude of other diseases and aliments? Would we, as a society be better off if these hurting, often poor and alone, many times elderly people, with a medication that not only helps medical disease but also relaxes and removes stress (without the dangers of alcohol, which we know kills millions every year -- yet it is legal and readily available causing untold damage and destruction).

But I digress.

Medical Marijuana, or Marijuana in general (in most States) represents almost half (well 46%) of all arrests and incarcerations for Law Enforcement (and thats just the reported stats). Let me say that again, almost HALF of all arrests in the USA involves in some way, Marijuana. Almost half of State Prisions, and Federal Prisons, cells are filled with non-violent marijuana offenders. It costs, on average, near $50k a year to keep these people incarcerated. Is this smart and efficent use of your tax dollars? Do you want a "pot-smoker" locked up but the murderer or rapist walking free because so much of the scare law enforcement resources are directed towards a plant called (marijuana or) cannabis? I think not.

The war on drugs is a miserable failure, consuming tens of Billions (with a "B") of dollars each and every year (and again, that is the reported direct costs, we have not even touched on the damage a felony conviction does to a person and their family for life). Indirect costs are probably on the order ot triple the direct costs, or more. So, we spend, each and every taxpaying citizen, hundreds of dollars to arrest and convict and incarcerate people for a plant called Cannibas.

The "War on Drugs" is the most insane policy ever enacted. Despite spending literally hundreds of Billions (again that "B") supply has INCREASED. The CIA is well known for peddling dope to make illicit money even though they also have Billions (see "B" again) sent to them by us, the taxpayers, every year.

The initial marijuana tax (1920s) was a racist move against Asian, African Americans, and other non-Whites, that the WASP rulers feared, and it is mainly due to one man, named Harry J. Anslinger, Director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics
1930 - 1967 that marijuana prohibition came widespread not only in the USA, but worldwide.

So, in the end, marijuana prohibition started as a racist and economic war on mainly non-Whites (African Americans and Mexicans, mainly) which, then when hard times came in 1929 to WWII, these mainly Mexican laborers was generally no longer welcomed and marijuana was a means to get rid of them or lock them up (and myths about marijuana making some persons "crazed super*man* rapists" and the like was spread by our own Government). Will the insanity ever end?

Now, do we, as a society want to spend this kind of money, Billions and Billions, on stopping marijuana users (when a plant can be grown, and does grow, everywhere in the USA)?
Can we afford it today with all the other needs of our Citizens? Or, is it just a sad, sad, waste of money and no Politician wants to speak the truth for fear of being "soft on crime"? I would respect more an Politician who spoke the truth and said it was high (pun intended) time to change direction, look to Europe who treats this as a health issue, regulate and tax those who want it and are responsible, and save those BILLIONS for something like, say Job creation? So we would not only be saving all the dollars now spent to stop marijuana (which is obviously failed, ask any High School student if they can get it readily and cheaply) prohibition, AND we would have a whole new tax stream from regulation and business -- it is already on that course now (tax and regulate) so the smart bet would be on regulating properly instead of letting it be the wild west of marijuana like it is now in Montana with so many grey areas people are jumping in to fill their pockets, damn the consequences!

Personally, I would rather those Jail and Prison cells (at $nearly 50k a year) be reserved for those that would do harm or violence to others, or people who otherwise cannot be permitted to remain free in society. I do NOT want marijuana users costing money we do not have and are borrowing from the Chinese. As marijuana users hurting no one (and if you want to say it is harmful, then they are harming only themselves) why are we so punitive about a plant. Again, a plant that grows everywhere (who ever thought they could stop a plant from growing must have been insane).

With the current economic enviroment we need to be smart and get the Country out of this depression before we have a double-dip and the Gulf of Mexico becomes a pool of BP Oil!

Come on people, no matter what your feelings or leanings are you have got to see that marijuana is better regulated and taxed as it is no where near as dangerous and destructive as alcohol -- we all personally know someone who cannot handle booze and has caused them great damage. Marijuana is much less than alcohol in the societal costs and we are arguing like it is cocaine or something -- even the three last Presidents have smoked it (even though they deny it, we all know the score).

So, as it is HUGE for Law Enforcement and Law Enforcement Officers (LEO) they will fight it tooth and nail now that they see it is being voted into legalization by the people. Now most LEO's I know, who are reasonable, would prefer to work on real crimes like Murder, Rape, and (sicko) child molesters, and the like. Marijuana is however, still as sizeable, almost half of all their "business" and those who set budgets and do the numbers realize if the thing that represents almost half of your "business" now is legal, the funding is going to shrink and they want to make sure that does not happen. I hope they simply shift to solving real crimes than waste money on fighting a loosing battle.

IN November, California will hold a vote to essentially legalize marijuana. It will pass. Then the slow train has hit high speed and as it has been for the past 15 years, eventually all States will legalize it and the Federal Politicians will (hopefully) finally realize it is better to tax and regulate adult users of marijuana than arrest, convict and incarcerate, as all those people with felony marijuana convictions cannot find jobs after the conviction is on their record, and that destroys families more quickly and thoroughly than anything else -- lets stop the insanity now and quickly by making our representatives enact reasonable adult taxation and regulation of marijuana for all who want it -- and then we can spend money on real problems, like stopping those who want to kill us all and fly planes into buildings! Its high time we get smart and stop this drug war and start hammering those who want to put us back 1000 years to where religions battled in the streets.

The war on drugs is a dismal failure and for the good of this Great country, and for those who have died defending it, its time to come back to reality -- we need to concentrate on and spend money on the real problems, nor pot smokers (not to mention growing it locally and selling it to local people will spur economies and stop drug cartels from importing it and taking the money to do and fund their damaging and illegal organizations.

Simply put, lets grow up and talk about it like adults and take action before more treasure and lives are wasted on a loosing battle. No one can stop a plant from growing any more than they can stop the sun from rising every morning -- the quicker we realize that, the quicker we can get everyone working again!

Sean Murphy

Sat, 06/12/2010 - 1:02pm Permalink
Enso Boy (not verified)

A lot of what Tom Daubert is saying in this article is completely untrue in regards to Montana Care Givers Network. Tom says in your article:

"They are advertising that no medical records are necessary". Not so, in fact they require you to have medical records proving your eligibility for a MT MMC; or they will not schedule you an appointment.

Tom states: "they have gotten physicians' recommendations for as many as a thousand patients in a single day,"
Also untrue...The most they have ever gotten signed up are about 2000 patients in three months.

He also states: "They had dozens of caregivers with big buckets of weed, and they sometimes sell to people who aren't registered."
Completely false on this one, Mr. Daubert. Any caregivers attending these conventions usually bring small amounts of medicine to show as examples of their product for advertising purposes. MCN requires that all caregivers (myself included) have them displayed in apothecary or mason jars with the lids securely sealed w/ clear packing tape and ABSOLUTELY NO SAMPLES!. There are NO SALES of medicine taking place (or allowed) at these caregiver conventions; as to do so would be a violation of the law. If the above were actually true the Missouri River Drug Task Force would have shut MCN down long ago.

MCN provides a valuable service to medical marijuana patients in MT...You may ask 'How is this'? I myself am a perfect example of 'WHY'. I originally obtained my card from a referral by my primary care physician who I have an established DR./ patient relationship with (as required by the MT law). When I went in to get it renewed yearly (for the third time), my physician told me "I'm sorry, but I cant give you a recommendation for your card this year".

When I asked him 'why', he replied: "It's not that I dont believe medical marijuana has not been helpful to your condition" (I have MS and type 1 diabetes); "but that our clinic (Community Health Partners, Livingston, MT) has been told by the Federal Government that we will lose Federal funding for the few health programs that we DO have that are federally funded if we write any more MMC recommendations".

So then where was I supposed to go to get a recommend for my card, as my physicians health group was being threatened by the Fed's? I got my medical records together and got it from a Dr. at a MCN convention in Bozeman. There are many Dr.'s who WILL NOT write a reccomendation for ANYONE in this state because they are being threatened by the Fed's (the fed's (DEA and FDA) have threatened to pull Dr.'s DEA prescription numbers, which they must have to write a legal prescription if they find out that they are writing MMC recommendations, have threatened to pull any federal funding they may be receiving and now the State of Montana Medical Licensing Board is fining Dr.'s who they find out write MMC recommendations and also threatening to pull their license to practice in the State of Montana..This is directly in violation of the State medical marijuana law.


And a little about Tom Daubert:

Not only is Tom Daubert one of the people who helped get the voter initiative on the ballot; he is also a big time grower/ caregiver/ supplier of medical marijuana in MT. Coincidentally, he is also on the state medical marijuana advisory board for the legislature, and he is telling them "we need more regulation". By this, he is telling them that: "there need to be large, state licensed caregivers and growers; a small number of them who supply all the cardholders in the whole state...."

In other words, he wants to eliminate all the numerous small caregivers and have all 15,000 cardholders in the whole state supplied by BIG BUSINESS (I'm sure this includes his BIG BUSINESS also).

If I remember correctly, he also advised the state council to do away w/ the privilege of patients to grow their own medicine. No conflict of interest here whatsoever, is their Tom??? Needless to say, Mr. Daubert is not very popular at this point in time w/ MMA cardholders and caregivers in this state. He is personally responsible for stirring up almost as much negative crap regarding this issue as 'Safe Kid's Safe Communities' in this state, helping to form medical marijuana policy at this point for his own future profits and self interests.

Gee thanks, Tom, your reeeally helping the situation here (NOT!), it would be nice if you would just crawl back under your rock and stay out of this instead of feeding the fear of the reefer madness people (Tom is pushing the old 'marijuana is not really safe medecine, it needs to be strictly regulated as it is sooo dangerous) position to the legislature and the antis.

Please do us all a favor Tom Daubert and just go away...
We don't want big business legally controlling our medicine here in MT.

Sat, 06/12/2010 - 9:19pm Permalink
David S. Schneider (not verified)

Kudos to Sean Murphy and the previous commenter. I didn't mean to lay a bad rap on MT; in the future I am going to relocate there if don't get killed or caught.

There are STILL good decent moral people that have learned some humanity left in this country and MT is NO exception. So those anger and violence prone others that justify what they do for public safety, they've probably been so brainwashed that they don't really realize they way they think and act. It's a social disfunction learned during their formative years. I leave others to their own device. Our opponents will be beating down the doors of the local cannabis outlet when they indeed get sick enough.

Sat, 06/12/2010 - 10:18pm Permalink
David TG (not verified)

Tom Duabert's motivating factors to distort the truth are clear: greed and control. With 15,000 green card holders in the state there is a lot of money to be made. That is if you can exclude everyone else out of the market except for yourself, or you and your friends. If every cardholder consumed 1/4 of an ounce per month, which would be less than 1/4 gram a day, the amount of money passed between hands would be around $1,000,000 dollars a year. The amount of money exchanged in Montana is likely much higher. Why distort the truth? If Tom Duabert can prop himself up as being just as appalled of MCN's business model as the conservatives in the state he is then better positioned to be a likely candidate to gain uninhibited access to the MMJ market. At least be a part of the oligopoly that could result from the gaining cries for MMJ regulation. I doubt that Duabert is an evil mastermind he is simply an opportunist trying to promote his best interest regardless of the issue at hand.

Montana Cargiver Network for the most part has been an excellent resource for people who could benefit from using MMJ access to the medicine that will improve thier quality of life. Currently there are around 15,000 people who hold a MMJ card. This accounts for 1.2% of the population of Montana.

A quick survey of the statistics associated with pain reveals that there are a staggering number of people who experience acute pain and are diagnosed with specific pain syndromes. A survey published by the Arthritis Foundation (2000) found that 42% of adults in the United States experience pain daily and 89% monthly. When extrapolated, data from the National Health Interview Survey (Lethbridge-Cejku & Vickerie, 2005) of the U.S. population suggest that in a 3-month period nearly one-third experience some type of pain. Of those who experienced pain, 31,066,000 experienced migraine; 28,401,000 experienced head-neck pain; 52,325,000 experienced low back pain; and 9,535,000 experienced jaw pain. Weighted mean prevalence of chronic pain in the general population has been estimated at 35.5%, or 105 million, in the United States (Harstall, 2003).

The number of people seeking care for their pain is striking. Nearly half of all Americans see a physician with a primary complaint of pain each year (Mayo Clinic, 2001). In 2003, there were more than 99 million office visits to physicians for acute injuries, and during these visits analgesics drugs and NSAIDS were mentioned 117.8 million times (Hing et al., 2005). In fact, during visits to physicians’ offices and emergency rooms, pain medications are the second most-prescribed drugs after cardiac-renal drugs (Schappert, 1998).

All of the people that are raising such a fuss over MCN saying things like "I feel like I am being taken advantage of" "This is not what I voted for" I say you should have looked at the statistics before you voted yes to Initiative 148. Which clearly states that under Section 2 defining "debilitating medical condition" and further to article (ii) severe or chronic pain is a qualifying condition. With 35% of American general population reporting to have chronic pain in 2002 it should be NO surprise that people are signing up. Sever or Chronic pain is by far the #1 reason people receive MMJ cards, which is how it should be because MMJ is found to be very effective at treating pain.

* Smoked cannabis reduced pain in HIV patients. In one study, 50 patients assigned either to cannabis or placebo finished the study. Although 52% of those who smoked marijuana had a 30% or more reduction in pain intensity, just 24% of those in the placebo group did. The study is published in the journal Neurology. In another study, 28 HIV patients were assigned to either marijuana or placebo — and 46% of pot smokers compared to 18% of the placebo group reported 30% or more pain relief. That study is in Neuropsychopharmacology.
* Marijuana helped reduce pain in people suffering spinal cord injury and other conditions. In this study, 38 patients smoked either high-dose or low-dose marijuana; 32 finished all three sessions. Both doses reduced neuropathic pain from different causes. Results appear in the Journal of Pain.
* Medium doses of marijuana can reduce pain perception, another study found. Fifteen healthy volunteers smoked a low, medium, or high dose of marijuana to see if it could counteract the pain produced by an injection of capsaicin, the ”hot” ingredient in chili peppers. The higher the dose, the greater the pain relief. The study was published in Anesthesiology.
* Vaporized marijuana can be safe, other research found. In this study, 14 volunteers were assigned to get low, medium, or high doses of pot, either smoked or by vaporization delivery, on six different occasions. The vaporized method was found safe; patients preferred it to smoking. The study is in Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics.

MCN just happened to be in the right place at the right time. After President Obama announced that he was directing federal drug agents to not arrest or harass medical marijuana patients, the whole MMJ scene blew up, not just in Montana but everywhere.

Lastly, I know first hand how MCN works. I first went in about a month ago to see if I could qualify to receive a MMJ card. I did not know what kind of records I needed so I didnt request any or bring any. I just went in and made an appointment, to see a doctor over the internet, probably in another state. My appointment time came and due to various factors I was unable to get the records needed. Within 30 seconds of the conversation with the doctor he informed me that without adequate records to support my health claim he would NOT be able to sign the physician statement, I left empty handed. Later that week I went back with my medical records supporting my claim. After the doctor reviewed my medical records he said" David I think the benefits of cannabis could outweigh the health risks for you" He then went on to talk about what the health risks were, and recommended vaporizing or eating the cannabis over smoking it. Due to just moving to Montana and being in between jobs they let me pay 100.00 of the 150.00 fee which to me was a show of compassion and generosity, not to mention they did not charge me for the first visit. An in person doctors visit would have cost me 200-250 dollars upfront, and due to the mix up in my medical records I would have likely had to pay for the second visit, too.

MCN provided me with cheap, easy access to healthcare! I didnt have to travel across the state, I didnt have to fuss with finding doctors that weren't tied down by fearing loss of federal funding. I can now legally get the medicine I need and can afford to buy food, and that's a WIN WIN to me.

Tue, 06/15/2010 - 1:29pm Permalink
Carol (not verified)

If marijuana is so effective as a drug, then let's put it in the pharmacy where it belongs and let Doctors prescribe it like every other legitimate drug.  This will get rid of most of the inappropriate  use of this drug and solve the whole problem.  There is no need for special stores or so called caregivers other than qualified physicians to disperse this stuff. I'm sure the scientific community can come up with a formula for a pill prescribed by a physician like everything else.  I'm sorry, the present program in Montana is just too convenient for misuse of this drug.

People who compare the use of marijuana to alchohol users has a point.  Frankly, maybe all mind altering substances should be controlled in the same matter. 

Thu, 09/16/2010 - 2:23pm Permalink
Anonymous420 (not verified)

In reply to by Carol (not verified)

Marijuana is an herb with side effects that benefit patients with specific ailments.  Pharmaceuticals and pills that doctors prescribe must go through a pharmacy because they must be controlled due to side effects that can cause serious problems.  You can't OD on marijuana but you can on just about anything else a doctor would prescribe you that you can get in a pharmacy.  Think about it...I can go to the doctor right now and complain about chronic pain and he will give me a prescription for a narcotic like oxycotin (synthetic heroin) or other pain killers that can cause permanent damage to my liver if taken excessively....even over the counter tylenol can do that if taken too much....what people don't understand is that marijuana can be used and you can determine the dose you need on your own based on your pain without any fear of harmful side effects...what is getting it through a pharmacy going to do except help the government and physicians make more money off of our ailments.....retarded idea.

Fri, 09/17/2010 - 4:52pm Permalink
DJo (not verified)

The following letter regards the revisions taking place to MT medical law which will deny a person serving probation from being a patient/cardholder.   I am currently writing to Diane Sands who is head of the legislative committee who is making these revisions,  and to Mary Caferro,  another legislator.  I do not feel it is right to remove medicine from someone who is ill,  just because they are serving probation.

Re:  Draft LSMM01, page eleven,
(5) A person may not be a registered cardholder if the
person is under the supervision of the department of corrections
or a youth court.

To the Legislative Committee:

I appreciate the hard work of the Legislative Committee and the efforts they are putting forth regarding revisions of the medical marijuana laws,  and I am sure this is not an easy job.

I am concerned about one of the marijuana law revisions presently being formulated.  The proposed revision concerning me is item number five, on page eleven of the unofficial draft copy, LCSMM01,  which denies allowance to be a cardholder for medical marijuana for those who are under supervision of the department of corrections.
It is clear that the state of Montana voters recognize that marijuana prescribed by a physician,  is an effective medication for multiple illnesses. It is clear the committee also recognizes the same in most of it's drafted copy of revisions,  until it gets to page eleven, revision five as it applies to people on probation--- At this point, the implied definition of marijuana changes instantly from being considered an effective medication,  to a recreational drug such as alcohol.  This clause, if passed into law is damaging toward those serving probation who are physically ill.

It is wrong this natural medicine,  which has helped many people more than any pharmaceutical drugs have, could be taken from them, due to the fact they are serving probation time. Many people on probation have made errors for which they are remorseful,  and will not do again.

It is my belief that a person who has made a mistake,  who is actively making amends and who has paid back to society many times over for his or her offense,  should at some point in time be forgiven by that society. Under no circumstances, or at any time, should a person on probation be denied medical treatment or any form of prescription written from a medical doctor.

I feel that revision number five on page eleven of the draft completely dismisses and ignores the fact that these people who are under D.O.C. supervision are human beings who suffer every bit as much from their severe illnesses, as any ill person who is not under D.O.C. supervision.

The scope of the effects of revision number five on page eleven is large upon human lives in the state of Montana,  because it establishes a precedent that a doctor prescribed medication which aids in the health and pain relief of someone ill,  can be withheld from selected groups of citizens.

I am a Montanan from birth,  and I am upset that Montana would even consider denying the right to purchase effective medical treatment to any one.

Society, and especially the D.O.C., often talk about the benefits of rehabilitation of those who have broken a law.  However, there is no better way to convey the underlying belief that a person who has broken a law is somehow "less than human", than to deny them a medication prescribed for their illness. Can a society rehabilitate people to full human functioning status, while treating them as less than human?

My son is very ill with a painful disease, and is a kind human being who  (like many others who have been convicted), has learned how devastating the results of getting into the wrong crowd or getting into trouble can be.  As a result, he determined to never make that mistake again. He became a medical patient last year, due to the fact a doctor prescribed medical marijuana for him.  This medicinal herb has given him more pain relief by far than any of the expensive mind and liver damaging chemical and pharmaceutical drugs his physicians throughout the years had him use. My son's physical, mental and emotional state has improved drastically during this past year of his life,  using a God-made herb called marijuana for his illness, rather than man-made pharmaceutical drugs.  Despite his severe diabetes, neuropathy, and seizure related disorders, he is doing so much better now, health wise,  than before.  He has felt much better and has completed nearly all of his community service hours this year.  He has also paid every fine payment and restitution payment on time successfully, while continuing to obey every law and every requirement of his probation officer and the state, and has stayed completely out of any form of trouble.
Many ill people who were placed on prescription pharmaceutical chemically based medications were suffering the results of increased use, diminishing pain killing effects,  and liver damage.  They are now free from that vicious drug cycle, and are effectively managing their pain with medical marijuana.  As a result, the health of their liver, their over all health and psychological well being are improving.   This ultimately benefits any society.  The only entities in society which will benefit from revision number five, page eleven would be the pharmaceutical corporations.
Please allow a human being on probation to correct the injustice he committed against society, as he pays his fines, his restitution payments,  and full fills his community service requirements. Please recognize how many rights people lose on probation:They lose their right to privacy and their home can torn apart by authorities and searched at any moment.  They have a mark on their criminal record that will never be removed,  and they will endure their life times struggling to be approved for application for a places to live or a decent jobs.  They lose the right to socialize with their friends in a bar,  they lose their right to vote,  and they must take time off from work every month to see their probation officer.  Along with this, they pay fines, restitution,  and make payments every month to the Department of Corrections for the fees charged for having a probation officer.

Most disciplinary actions taken by courts against an individual who has done wrong are good and very productive for society.  However, retaliatory actions, such as denial of prescription medication, and continual denial for application for a place to live and a chance at a decent job, is the perpetration of further injustices in our society.  I am asking for the compassion from the committee toward these people, and to draft this future law in a way that allows  a person on probation the right to purchase this effective, safe and herbal medicine prescribed by a doctors for their illnesses.

I agree that a substance such as alcohol should be forbidden to anyone under D.O.C. supervision due to it's lack of medicinal value, it's use as a strictly recreational drug,  and the many grievous problems alcohol has caused society.  A British clinical study recently concluded that marijuana users have a significantly lower vehicle accident record than the non- marijuana users. They attributed these findings to marijuana's effects upon a person of increased mental focus and stress reduction. The other finding of this study in the U.K. was the highest rate of car accidents belong to those who use alcohol, which would be expected.
I realize the idea for revision five on page eleven of draft of LCSMM01 came from the state of Colorado,  however,  I absolutely do not believe Montana is limited by the ideas of  another state. One of the reasons Montana is referred to as "the last best place" is due to the fact we have often refused to follow after the actions of other states.

Thank you.


Wed, 10/27/2010 - 6:10am Permalink

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