Pubdate: Fri, 31 Mar 2006
Source: Missoula Independent (MT)
Copyright: 2006 Missoula Independent
Author: Jessie Mcquillan
Cited: Americans for Safe Access
Cited: Montana NORML
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


The first meeting of Peace for Patients, the state's first medical 
marijuana support and advocacy group, brought together a handful of 
patients and would-be patients in Missoula on March 27 in hopes that 
they might help each other navigate the murky waters of Montana's 
medical marijuana program, which voters approved in 2004, and now has 
189 enrolled patients.

Daniel Skaggs, the Montana organizer for Americans for Safe Access 
and creator of the group, says he wants to build a network to provide 
patients with information and encouragement. Creating a public front 
of local support on the part of non-patients, particularly in the 
face of continued federal raids on patients, is also a goal, he says.

"I want to try to pull together as many patients and their supporters 
as possible to let people know that these patients are living in your 
town--they might be your best friend, your mother, your grandmother," 
Skaggs told the seven people who showed up for the meeting.

One woman, Jan Durbin, who says she has an incurable nerve disease 
but can't find a doctor who will discuss medical marijuana with her, 
drove over from Anaconda to learn more about the law's provisions and 
other patients' experiences.

"I'm on so many pills right now it's pathetic, and I'm so tired of 
being in pain," Durbin says.

Bob Meharg, a registered patient from the Bitterroot who was recently 
arrested and charged with cultivating marijuana despite the supposed 
protections of Montana's medical marijuana law, talked about his case 
and brought up some of the ambiguities and contradictions in the law. 
For instance, he says, the law's provision that allows patients to 
possess up to six plants or 1 ounce doesn't parse, since one plant 
could easily produce more than 1 ounce.

John Masterson, of Montana NORML (National Organization for the 
Reform of Marijuana Laws), showed up in hopes of gathering just such 
feedback to support future tweakings of the law.

"The formation of a patient support group is a wonderful development 
for patients in Montana," he commented. 
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