Medical marijuana initiative would tighten restrictions in Montana

2012-10-07T08:15:00Z 2012-11-25T14:40:40Z Medical marijuana initiative would tighten restrictions in MontanaBy GWEN FLORIO of the Missoulian missoulian.com
October 07, 2012 8:15 am  • 

Let’s start by clearing up any confusion about Initiative 124.

Voter approval would cement restrictions on medical marijuana approved by the 2011 Legislature.

Rejection would restore the 2004 voter-approved law that legalized the medical use of marijuana in Montana.

So – for 124 is for extensive restrictions. Against ditches them in favor of the less severe 2004 law.

“Trying to explain what will happen under (the initiative) is a little bit ridiculous,” said Bob Brigham, campaign manager for Patients for Reform, Not Repeal. “It’s tough to convince people that it will actually be that bad.”

That’s because the medical marijuana users who would most be affected won’t see the results of last year’s restrictions until after the election.

A court challenge delayed several of the 2011 law’s key provisions, including a ban on paying providers of medical marijuana, and on a three-plant limit per cardholder for providers.

Brigham’s group sees those as both onerous and impractical. Although the 2011 law allows patients to grow their own cannabis, not everybody has a green thumb, he said.

“And there’s the timeline. You get an awful diagnosis, you don’t want to think, ‘Well, I’ll start growing some marijuana now and come harvest time, then I can start chemo,’ ” he said.

Last month, the Montana Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s temporary injunction on the 2011 law.

James Goetz of Bozeman, the attorney representing the Montana Cannabis Industry Association, vowed to take the case back to District Court but said then he didn’t think the court would consider it before the election.

Playing devil’s advocate to his own concerns, Brigham said that the back-and-forth of court action – The restrictions are in place! They’re not! They’re back in place! – is frustrating, “and when people get frustrated, they throw their hands up in the air and vote no.”

***

The ballot language is indeed confusing, notes an email blast from the pro-Initiative 124 group Safe Community Safe Kids and redistributed by the Montana Cannabis Industry Association as a way to rally its own supporters to vote against I-124.

The Billings-based Safe Community Safe Kids’ email reminds readers that the initiative keeps in place the 2011 legislation that restricted medical marijuana production, distribution and use and says, “Vote for SB423 or Montana will revert back to having the uncontrolled, lawless, rapidly growing marijuana industry we experienced prior to the passing of SB423.”

Missoula City Councilman Dick Haines has looked at the issue from both sides.

As a Republican legislator about a decade ago, he said, he backed a plan to allow medical marijuana to be sold through pharmacies. “I thought that made sense ... but it didn’t fly,” he said. “It was one of the few things that Ron Erickson and I saw eye-to-eye on.” Erickson is a liberal Democrat.

But Haines was no fan of how the 2004 medical marijuana initiative played out.

“I thought it got away from us,” he said. “ ... When the (2011) Legislature calmed it down and put restrictions on it, I thought, ‘That’s fine.’ ”

The number of medical marijuana dispensaries exploded around Montana after a 2009 U.S. Justice Department memo that some saw as discouraging federal prosecutions. Although 17 states have legalized the medical use of marijuana, it’s still illegal under federal law.

The “calming” – medical marijuana proponents call it “chilling” – effect actually was provided by widespread federal raids in 2011 that shut down about two dozen of the larger medical marijuana businesses around Montana.

Whatever the cause, Haines – whose only interest now is as a citizen – welcomed the effect. And while he said the 2011 law might not be perfect, he doesn’t see a new initiative as the best way to fix it.

“The trouble (with an initiative) is that it really doesn’t get vetted, really hammered, to see if everything works,” he said. “People say, ‘The Legislature takes so long.’ But when you go that route, a lot of people have looked at it and a lot of people have talked about it.”

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(13) Comments

  1. MyPointofView
    Report Abuse
    MyPointofView - October 07, 2012 5:41 pm
    people like yourself should NOT be denied, your legit as it get...however 18 yr old ski bums with a hang nail shouldnt. the doctors who write these scrips should be accountible I know many too many card holders who were nothing more but do nothing, lazy, able bodied government leaches, and thier scrips just made them worse, these frauds sell or share with every and anyone.
  2. GaryTinkSanders
    Report Abuse
    GaryTinkSanders - October 07, 2012 1:17 pm
    I have a very strong Pro Cannabis stance, I have worked very diligently to put forth a good concise medical marijuana plan based on different tiers, I had sent a synopsis to all of the legislative candidates in the 2011 session, I received feedback from 2 republicans and 1 democrat all of whom were not interested in looking for solutions. I will be putting a synopsis of my medical marijuana plan on my website with in the week. www.garytinksandersforhd97.com
    The original law did need some tweaking but it is in an impotent state rendering it useless to facilitate a real medical change. My grandfather could have benefited from cannabis but by the time he would have received his card (1 to 2 months) bought the necessary equipment to grow, added electricity costs, 4 to 6 months to plant, grow and harvest the final product, then the drying and curing process (another couple of weeks) not to mention the fact that you have a sick person trying to do this on their own so now you have lost 7 to 9 months of extremely valuable time and maybe a life which would have been the case with my grandfather (RIP I love you gramps, you are still my best friend). I want people to know that I was 100% against legalizing marijuana, I even voted against it but I have seen the benefits first hand and this led to my total transformation on the benefits of cannabis, I do not smoke or ingest cannabis but I had my medical marijuana card and used the topicals, lotions and creams for pain relief and it worked excellent for arthritis, gout, sore muscles and back pain (I do very physical heavy work day in and day out) And for me this offered the relief that I was looking for with out any euphoric feeling, no THC in the blood stream ( did not want to surrender my CDL) with out the harmful side effects of even aspirin on the liver and other organs, consequently this would not leave you impaired and effecting your ability to think, work and drive. I will certainly support candidates that will help me develop a clear, concise and functional medical marijuana program, if you want to contact me to help me seek out other good candidates, put up some of my signs, ask questions or offer insight into legislation call me 406-240-1573 Tink
    P.S. if you are a candidate and want to step forward on this issue now is the time.
  3. MyPointofView
    Report Abuse
    MyPointofView - October 07, 2012 12:12 pm
    redneck view? decriminalize it, control it like alchol, and tax the living #@$^& out of it. It's plain as the nose on your face you can't stop it ...so reap revenue from it. place DNA tags on the strains so when it shows up in the wrong (youth) hands, someone has to answer. Only time jail should be part of the answer is if you get caught selling bulk contraband untaxed,,,massive fine and some time, I'm sure I don't have all the answers but revenue (taxed) sure beats paying people to hunt truely small time adult potheads then pay for prosecution and the wild expensive of jail or prision just a thought
  4. Annie O
    Report Abuse
    Annie O - October 07, 2012 11:43 am
    Good Lord, how would you know "half the town" unless you were out there snooping into peoples private lives> It is rather unnerving to know there are ones out there who peek into lives not their own. I'd bet the farm to know what "vices" SCSK practice in the privacy of their own homes. Probably wicked. Some guy or woman on the other side of the state has no clue as to how I live each day. Time for them to invest in their own kids and stop interfering with my life. I don't want some woman telling me to follow her lead. This will lead me to do things immoral and I don't follow the sheep who don't mind being screwed,
  5. Dawn Peterson-Smith
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    Dawn Peterson-Smith - October 07, 2012 11:19 am
    To those people who are going to check that box FOR SB423, let me enlighten you. I have chronic pelvic pain, I used to take over 100 mgs morphine daily, along with about 10 other medications. I didn't ever live, only existed on the bed and in a chair. I couldn't go anywhere because riding in a car was excruciatingly painful. I was planning to take my life - the depression was overwhelming, as was the pain. Out of desperation, I tried cannabis and that night I slept through the night for the first time. I had no pain. Ten weeks later I stopped taking the pills (COLD TURKEY, no withdrawals!) and I've not needed them since. I've been able to dance at two of my children's weddings, I've been able to hike in Glacier Park, go camping, travel Montana, and be the human I've not been the past 30 years. My husband has his wife back and I have a life. See, before I looked into medical cannabis I was very suicidal. I've lived for DECADES with pain, depression, anxiety, and the pharmaceuticals made it worse. I was counting my pills and was making final plans to take my life. When the option of medical cannabis came up I had to look into it - I have kids and grandkids. I also lost a brother to suicide and I couldn't allow my mother to live the rest of her days knowing both her children took their own lives. The first person who was my caregiver was more black market - very knowledgeable, very helpful, but nothing other than the plant material to sell. Buying my medicine in a parking lot next to the dumpsters... isn't that a thrilling thought! I found a dispensary in Missoula, 160+ miles from my home, but found MORE knowledge and product there that helped me find true relief. Edibles, topicals, other formulations to help those of us who do not smoke and need relief. Thanks to SB423, we will lose many of those options. Don't tell me to grow it myself. I can't get a clone or seed even IF I could make things grow - which I cannot. It's NOT easy. It's not for those who are severely ill. One of the SCSK ladies (I use that term loosely) said, "If they are severely ill, they can grow it themselves." I have no one to grow it for me. My kids all live in another state, my husband and I cannot grow so where does this leave me? Oh, BTW, I've NEVER been high. That was all the morphine, Klonopin, Promethazine, and massive shots of demerol. THAT was high. What I've felt after using medical cannabis is relaxation (severe muscle cramps), no pain (pelvic pain since I was young), rest (insomnia that wasn't touched by any other drugs on the market) and clear thinking. I've not had a single day where I've thought, "I want to die." Those thoughts were PERVASIVE, occuring multiple times a day. If SB423 is fully implemented, I will lose my medicine. As it stands now I don't have much left. I cannot go back on the pharmaceuticals - I don't want to die. That is what will happen should this bill go into effect, should Montana decide the government knows best for them. Their claims are all bogus - if everyone who qualified for chronic pain alone held a card we'd have well over 270,000 Montanans. 33K is a drop in the bucket. There are others who will lose LIFE SAVING MEDICINE should this bad bill be allowed to go into effect. Are YOU willing to be one who condemns a person to a painful death? Check that box FOR and you will be. And my husband, children and grandchildren will be left picking up the pieces.
  6. Dawn Peterson-Smith
    Report Abuse
    Dawn Peterson-Smith - October 07, 2012 11:18 am
    To those people who are going to check that box FOR SB423, let me enlighten you.

    I have chronic pelvic pain, I used to take over 100 mgs morphine daily, along with about 10 other medications. I didn't ever live, only existed on the bed and in a chair. I couldn't go anywhere because riding in a car was excruciatingly painful. I was planning to take my life - the depression was overwhelming, as was the pain. Out of desperation, I tried cannabis and that night I slept through the night for the first time. I had no pain. Ten weeks later I stopped taking the pills (COLD TURKEY, no withdrawals!) and I've not needed them since. I've been able to dance at two of my children's weddings, I've been able to hike in Glacier Park, go camping, travel Montana, and be the human I've not been the past 30 years. My husband has his wife back and I have a life.

    See, before I looked into medical cannabis I was very suicidal. I've lived for DECADES with pain, depression, anxiety, and the pharmaceuticals made it worse. I was counting my pills and was making final plans to take my life. When the option of medical cannabis came up I had to look into it - I have kids and grandkids. I also lost a brother to suicide and I couldn't allow my mother to live the rest of her days knowing both her children took their own lives.

    The first person who was my caregiver was more black market - very knowledgeable, very helpful, but nothing other than the plant material to sell. Buying my medicine in a parking lot next to the dumpsters... isn't that a thrilling thought! I found a dispensary in Missoula, 160+ miles from my home, but found MORE knowledge and product there that helped me find true relief. Edibles, topicals, other formulations to help those of us who do not smoke and need relief. Thanks to SB423, we will lose many of those options. Don't tell me to grow it myself. I can't get a clone or seed even IF I could make things grow - which I cannot. It's NOT easy. It's not for those who are severely ill. One of the SCSK ladies (I use that term loosely) said, "If they are severely ill, they can grow it themselves." I have no one to grow it for me. My kids all live in another state, my husband and I cannot grow so where does this leave me?

    Oh, BTW, I've NEVER been high. That was all the morphine, Klonopin, Promethazine, and massive shots of demerol. THAT was high. What I've felt after using medical cannabis is relaxation (severe muscle cramps), no pain (pelvic pain since I was young), rest (insomnia that wasn't touched by any other drugs on the market) and clear thinking. I've not had a single day where I've thought, "I want to die." Those thoughts were PERVASIVE, occuring multiple times a day.

    If SB423 is fully implemented, I will lose my medicine. As it stands now I don't have much left. I cannot go back on the pharmaceuticals - I don't want to die. That is what will happen should this bill go into effect, should Montana decide the government knows best for them. Their claims are all bogus - if everyone who qualified for chronic pain alone held a card we'd have well over 270,000 Montanans. 33K is a drop in the bucket. There are others who will lose LIFE SAVING MEDICINE should this bad bill be allowed to go into effect.

    Are YOU willing to be one who condemns a person to a painful death? Check that box FOR and you will be. And my husband, children and grandchildren will be left picking up the pieces.
  7. DanielsGB
    Report Abuse
    DanielsGB - October 07, 2012 10:39 am
    After my MS diagnosis, I spent a year learning to grow. Took 80 hours of remodeling. Including some serious wiring. My first & second harvest were OK, but keep in mind I landscaped for years. I fear what newly diagnosed patient would go through.

    It's not that easy and requires some lengthy air & temp. control.
  8. tinlizzie
    Report Abuse
    tinlizzie - October 07, 2012 9:28 am
    Well Walter, people use marijuana because of its anit nausea affects as well as its increase of appetite - both symptoms that people who are undergoing chemo struggle with. Yes, the growing and number of peoplewith cards got way out of hand but, this new law is way too restirctive.
  9. Bob
    Report Abuse
    Bob - October 07, 2012 8:53 am
    Just a plant walter? How about trying some hemlock, mistletoe, organ pipe cactus and deadly nightshade? This "its okay because its just a plant" argument is weak.
  10. jasmine5866
    Report Abuse
    jasmine5866 - October 07, 2012 8:50 am
    Well Walter12, the answer to that is simple. Why would you want to be on prescription pills with all of the side-effects and overdoses, when you can use a natural plant and not have any of that. Don't get me wrong, there are reasons to use prescription drugs, but a natural plant is definitely a better option for the majority.
    For those that do it right, there isn't a lot of money in it. Sure, there were illegal things going on just like any other business. Not everyone is in the same "pot", no pun intended!
  11. jasmine5866
    Report Abuse
    jasmine5866 - October 07, 2012 8:20 am
    So let's take a look at what is really going on here:
    There is no mention in this article about the restrictions and the effect on patients being able to grow or receive medicinal marijuana.
    There is also no mention that 5,400 patients will be dumped into the black market because of the three patient rule.
    Why would any state want thousands of people obtaining medicinal marijuana illegally? Because they did not do their job and here is why:
    1. Patients can grow their own but it is not legal to obtain seedlings or seeds, so we are asking for divine intervention to not illegally obtain seeds or seedlings. Why would our government ask us to break-the-law?
    2. Patients must obtain landlord permission to grow medicinal marijuana or prove that they own their own home. What is wrong with this?
    a. Due to inaccurate Press coverage, a Montana landlord was convicted of maintaining a drug-involved premises which was not the whole truth; he actually did not "collect rent for a year and was clearly a partner". Now, with this in mind, you try to get landlord permission and see how that goes for you!
    b. Growing medicinal marijuana requires a controlled environment for moisture and smell. With all that said, it is not feasible for most medical marijuana patients to grow their own even IF they were well enough to tend to it. Medicinal Marijuana is not like growing a plant, contrary to popular believe, and ANYONE who says that it is has never grown it!
    2. For the growers it is not feasible for medicinal marijuana to be grown for free, let alone for just three people. If a person would grow for just three people, the cost would be so high that it would be prohibitive. This is just common sense.
    3. It was not mentioned in this article that if these restrictions are lifted, that the state has asked Montana providers to dump 5,400 people into the black market. Why would our state government want thousands of people to break-the-law? More importantly, why would we, the people of Montana, stand for poor legislation. It is obvious that they spent very little time drafting legislation that the very act is unconstitutional and does not work for the very people it was intended for.
    In conclusion, VOTE NO ON IR-124 AND MAKE OUR LEGISLATURES TO THEIR JOB! SB 423 DOES NOT WORK FOR THE VERY PEOPLE THAT NEED MEDICINAL MARIJUANA.
  12. walter12
    Report Abuse
    walter12 - October 07, 2012 8:04 am
    Marijuana is what it is. It is a natural plant that produces certain chemical changes in the brain when smoked. It has been around since the dawn of mankind. It is nothing new and some of the oldest civilizations knew all about it. Today, it is about money and it is a higly prized cash crop. It is used to feel good and get high. If there was any actual medical value to it, then it was abused by all those that saw big money and an easy high, nothing more. Why do people in this town want marijuana so bad when half the town is already on some kind of pill, anti-depressants, mood pills, pain pills, etc?
  13. MontanaConnect
    Report Abuse
    MontanaConnect - October 07, 2012 7:04 am
    I simply cannot stress strongly enough how painful this law is to the very people the law was enacted for by us - the voters.

    The way it was constructed was to purposefully have as LOW a number as possible - and if folks are critically ill - they stand NO CHANCE whatsoever to gain access to the drug.

    The folks opposed to medical cannabis say "They can grow it at home". Well folks - it's NOT that easy. If the enjoinments that are in place from the Goetz law suit are lifted - it will be IMPOSSIBLE for patients to grow it themselves.

    Please view video here of Ellie Boldman Hill as she gives concise details regarding her concerns as this bill was being created. Ms Hill was on the committee:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5qjOqYRFdk&feature=plcp

    Please Montana Voters - pay close attention to your vote on this issue. VERY sick Montanans rely on your support to vote against IR-124.

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