Montana re-thinking its medical marijuana program

On November 2, 2004, medical marijuana was legalized in Montana. It was approved by 62% of the voters and it covered all the major problems related to medical marijuana possession. For instance, if you were a registered patient and contained all the necessary paperwork that proves it, you were free to enjoy medical marijuana. The bill covered the following medical conditions: Chron’s disease, epilepsy, extreme nausea, muscle spasms, multiple sclerosis seizures, chronic pain, etc. With that in mind, the patients are allowed to grow up to six cannabis plants. However, when something sounds too good to be true then it probably is.

Restrictions

In 2011, SB 423 came into effect and it amended the medical marijuana law. Therefore, with that bill, medical marijuana patients were faced with new restrictions. For instance, if you were a qualified patient, you would still need to obtain two medical recommendations from two different doctors. Medical marijuana patients who were caught driving under the influence of this drug would automatically have their cannabis rights revoked and would be prohibited from legally obtaining cannabis. That argument is in direct collision with common sense because most patients who have the need for medical marijuana will also have that need when they are driving a vehicle.

A similar problem recently occurred in Arizona where patients who were caught driving under the influence of cannabis had their drugs taken away from them. Now the main question Arizona is contemplating over is: should the authorities return the drugs back to the patients if they were confiscated?

In addition to these restrictions, physicians who hand out medical marijuana recommendations will be reported to the Medical Board if, by any chance, they give out more than 25 medical marijuana recommendations a year. Persons who take care of a medical marijuana patient and provide them with weed are not allowed to take money in exchange for the drug. If we had to choose which restriction had some sense in it – we wouldn’t be able to come up with a reasonable choice. As you can tell, the restrictions aren’t here to make patients life much easier.

Can the restrictions be fixed?

The 2013 Montana medical marijuana legislature was designed to fix those restrictions but failed to do so with a voting ratio of 12-4. Ten republicans voted ‘No’, along with two democrats, while 4 democrats supported to legislature. However, when you scratch underneath the surface of that legislature you see that the two representatives, who stand on the opposite sides of the medical marijuana spectrum, have an interesting past. You see, Rep. Kelly McCarthy, who initiated the bill in the first place, is a former banker and spent about 20 years in the U.S. military dealing with drug smuggling. He realizes he lost many points with this particular political move but that doesn’t mean he will give up altogether.

 One of the people who heavily disapprove of cannabis in general is Chairman David Howard who has spent most of his career in the FBI and in the 1980′ he spent most of his time taking down illegal pot fields. In his own words, marijuana is simply “poison” and “a joke”. If the re-design of the law had passed, it would reverse provision mentioned above. Hopefully, the fight for medical marijuana in Montana doesn’t stop here.

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