Pubdate: Tue, 07 Jun 2011
Source: Missoulian (MT)
Copyright: 2011 Missoulian
Author: Rick Rosio


As we are faced with the pending implementation of Senate Bill 423 
and the de facto repeal of the medical cannabis program in Montana, 
the Missoulian editorial board has asked our good citizens to not 
support the petition drive to suspend SB423.

We are told in the June 2 editorial that SB423 is "a marked 
improvement" on the medical marijuana law previously in place. How 
so? Under SB423, the sickest of Montanans will no longer have 
reasonable access to medical cannabis. Those undergoing chemotherapy 
will not have usable medicine for 120 days, the time it takes for the 
plant matter to be ready to use. How is that an improvement for 
patients? Who is to provide medical cannabis to the quadriplegic 
patient, the elderly patient or the patient in hospice?

Moreover, a list of cannabis patients is to be given to law 
enforcement. When did we give up the right to privacy in our homes 
and the U.S. Bill of Rights guarantee against unwarranted searches of 
private homes? When did legal marijuana users become a second class 
of citizen no longer protected by the Constitution? Furthermore, 
SB423 is no improvement for the caregivers, that much-maligned, even 
demonized group.

Why is it all right to destroy thousands of jobs in this declining 
economy? The position taken is that there should be no "business 
aspect" to the Medical Marijuana Act, without any consideration for 
the thousands of Montana citizens who invested in this state-approved 
program in order to provide cannabis to state-approved patients. 
These individuals provided jobs, tax revenue and commercial revenue 
for their communities in a time of economic uncertainty, in many 
cases also providing charitable services to the most serious cases.

Producing medical strains of cannabis required a large capital 
investment as well as technical support, and hundreds of Montana 
citizens found living-wage jobs in this program. Yet these legitimate 
businesspeople and health care providers have repeatedly been 
vilified as "profiteers." Tell that to Exxon!

We are also told in the editorial that the previous medical marijuana 
law has been "widely misused." Are you saying that every one of the 
30,000 Montana adults who chose to enroll in this alternative pain 
management program, which was sanctioned by the State of Montana, was 
wrong to do so?

It is called into question that one in 33 Montana citizens has a 
debilitating illness. It has been insinuated that virtually all 
patients diagnosed with "chronic pain" are somehow frauds. Chronic 
pain can include the following: fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, 
arthritis, scoliosis, migraine headaches, ruptured discs from sports, 
auto accidents, work injuries and many other health problems. And 
yes, even young people get sick and injured.

We ask Montanans to recognize that marijuana is a less toxic 
alternative to heavy doses of pain pills over long periods of time. 
The board is calling for even stricter rules to be put into place. 
Yes, there should be rules, but those rules must be workable for all 
persons involved with the medical cannabis program as well as the 
community at large.

All patients must have access to a medical provider who is not 
threatened by sanctions from a state agency or administrators for 
acknowledging that their patient can benefit from the use of cannabis 
in treating their medical conditions. This decision should be between 
the patient and his or her doctor and not up for public scrutiny. 
This debate should involve not just legislators, but also medical 
researchers, physicians, health care providers, social workers, law 
enforcement personnel and the business community, as well as the 
cannabis patients who are to be served by this law.

Let the good citizens of Montana once again allow the democratic 
process to work in 2012. But in the meantime, let us continue to show 
compassion and a sense of fairness to our suffering fellow Montanans. 
I ask them to support the suspension of SB423 by signing the 
petition. Let the voters, not the political agendas of 36 senators 
and 77 representatives in Helena, determine the outcome of this issue.

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Rick Rosio of Missoula is a medical cannabis advocate and caregiver.
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart