Pubdate: Tue, 30 Oct 2012
Source: Billings Gazette, The (MT)
Copyright: 2012 The Billings Gazette
Author: Lori Burnam


Cancer has been trying to kill me for a while now, which is why I 
hope Montanans will vote "no" on this year's medical marijuana ballot issue.

Let me explain. I was diagnosed with lung cancer six years ago. The 
treatments I went through were horrendous, the pain I experience is 
excruciating, and the various modern medications I am given cause 
hideous nightmares. Let me tell you, cancer is a cruel way for a 
person's life to come to an end.

My doctor expected me to die years ago. Instead, I actually found a 
way to improve my quality of life and to end the vicious nightmares, 
for a while, at least. The answer for me was to use medical marijuana 
instead of morphine. Amazingly, marijuana worked better, and didn't 
produce horrible side-effects. My doctor was surprised and told me to 
keep doing it.

But then the 2011 Legislature repealed the medical marijuana law 
instead of creating the kind of rigorous but workable regulations 
patients like me wanted. They ignored genuine patients as well as the 
will of the voters. The governor vetoed the first repeal bill, but 
not the second one, which legislators intended to make as close to 
repeal as possible. The new law, SB423, is extremely unfair to 
patients like me. It is designed not to work.

I know from experience how awful the new law is, which is why I want 
voters to reject it on Election Day this year. I used to have 
reliable access to safe, medicinal-quality marijuana, whenever I 
needed it. Now, I can't find a provider to help me, and my ability to 
acquire safe marijuana has ended.

I am 66 years old. Am I supposed to find a "street dealer" in an 
alley somewhere? Even if I could, how on Earth would I ever know that 
marijuana from the black market was safe, much less effective in 
helping a sick, elderly patient like me? I'm too sick to grow it myself.

I thought getting cancer was bad. But even worse is having discovered 
a way to relieve my suffering, then to have it taken away from me by 
politicians. Thanks to Montana voters, I still have hope.

Voters in 2004 wanted patients like me to have access to safe 
marijuana without fear of arrest and prosecution. In 2011 patients 
like me wanted the Legislature to pass strict regulation and 
enforcement mechanisms to end exploitation of the law and keep things 
working as voters intended for genuine patients. But the Legislature 
rejected the idea of making the law work well for patients. They 
misunderstand marijuana, and don't recognize how well it works as medicine.

I am not a criminal. I am sick, and I need safe marijuana to live as 
well as my medical condition allows. My only hope for having the 
Legislature fix the medical marijuana law is for voters to repeal 
SB423. Please vote NO on Initiative Referendum-124.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom