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State lawmakers say medical marijuana abuse is ‘out of control’

2010-07-14T00:22:00Z State lawmakers say medical marijuana abuse is ‘out of control’By JENNIFER McKEE IR State Bureau Helena Independent Record
July 14, 2010 12:22 am  • 

This is what Sen. Trudi Schmidt, D-Great Falls, doesn’t like about medical marijuana: Would-be “caregivers” laughed at a gravely ill woman Schmidt knows because the woman had never been stoned before.

When the woman finally found what she thought was a reputable caregiver, she was distressed to discover the person seemed “half-baked all the time,” Schmidt said.

“There is such abuse going on and it’s our responsibility to bring this back under control,” she said.

Schmidt and other members of an interim legislative subcommittee examining ways to revise the state’s medical marijuana laws shared their frustrations with the current system at a meeting here this week.

Schmidt and other lawmakers pointed to statistics they say underlie public skepticism that the more than 20,000 Montanans now licensed to use medical marijuana actually have a debilitating illness that requires it. Several lawmakers suggested medical marijuana for some is just a scam to get stoned legally.

“I guess everybody who gets sick moves to Missoula,” said Rep. Penny Morgan, R-Billings, referring to the breakdown of where Montana’s medical marijuana patients live.

Missoula and Bozeman, home of the state’s biggest four-year universities, have the highest number of medical marijuana patients as a percentage of county population, state figures show.

Schmidt said the growth has been “explosive,” with the number of new, registered medical marijuana patients doubling in most age categories between March and June.

“This is out of control,” she said.

The panel began meeting last month and has one more meeting scheduled in August. Members are hoping to recommend bill drafts for the 2011 Legislature to consider, to close perceived loopholes in the existing, voter-passed medical marijuana law.

The panel’s efforts will not be the only marijuana-related bill the Legislature is likely to encounter. However, the panel is working on its proposal through a series of public meetings at which many from the medical marijuana industry have testified.

Many of those people have spoken about the legitimate uses of medical marijuana.

Rep. Diane Sands, D-Missoula, who chairs the subcommittee, said the relative youth of many users and their medical reasons for using marijuana make it hard to believe everything is on the up-and-up.

“I’m telling you, part of the credibility of this as a medical product is the size of that number of under 30-year-olds,” she said. “What I hear from the public is that they don’t believe that many 20-year-olds have conditions that are so pressing they need a medical marijuana card. They just don’t buy it.”

More than 25 percent of marijuana patients in Montana are between ages 21 and 30.

More than 13,000 of the some 20,000 Montanans with medical marijuana cards cite “severe chronic pain” as their reason for using.

“I know that people suffer from chronic pain, but that number also seems to me to be extremely puzzling,” Sands said.

Sands also took marijuana sellers to task for advertising that their product treats conditions such as acid reflux, which is not listed under Montana law as an ailment requiring medical marijuana.

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(20) Comments

  1. Shepherd323
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    Shepherd323 - July 19, 2010 8:54 pm
    Amen on the employer testing. Businesses can hire whomever they like within existing employment law. If you want to create another requirement and burden on small businesses given the current economic climate I wish you the best of luck. If mass drug testing becomes commonplace the gov will most likely start with entitlement recipients. That means grandma and grandpa will have to submit to random drug testing to get their Social Security checks. So after we do that and it's an administrative nightmare and we find out the obvious that elderly people are on a bunch of drugs we can proceed with private sector employers. Let small business regulate itself whenever possible.
  2. helenros
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    helenros - July 19, 2010 12:06 pm
    The unfortunate side-effect of the abuse of the law is that people with a legitimate medical need for this substance have been discouraged from accessing it because they don't want to be associated with the abusers and can't afford to access it. I have a difficult time believing so many young people have qualifying conditions.

    We need to require an actual, established doctor-patient relationship, and an actual prescription which can be fiiled at an actual pharmacy with a controlled dosage using actual insurance, and provide actual legal protection from users. Because even with a med card, drug-testing employers can and do fire people.
  3. dingo
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    dingo - July 16, 2010 1:07 pm
    hiddenmuggle said: "well I was trying to draw purple out, but yeah I guess you're right. what about the families. My grandma must hate it when I get high and mow her yard or clean her gutters and enjoy doing it. I'm sure she wishes I would stop taking her dog hiking with me, because I find nature so much more beautiful when I'm stoned. And having stoners on the road must suck. Every body hates cautious drivers, cause let's face it, stoners drive much slower than drunks. Maybe if I quit getting high my grades would improve. A 3.8 is quite despicable. "

    Take it from me, a reformed pothead, it will catch up with you eventually - I guarantee it. then someday you will quit and wake up one morning wondering what you did for the past however many years. And then you will have a 4.0.

    It is impossible to use marijuana on a daily basis and not have it adversely affect your life - usually sooner than later.

  4. Everhaste
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    Everhaste - July 16, 2010 9:55 am
    I know these posts usually turn in to a forum for puritans and potsmokers to get on soap boxes, but the issue at hand isn't if marijuana is bad for you. A law was past with a certain purpose in mind, and I think it's obvious to most that the end result is nowhere near what the law was intended for.

    Personally, I'm for legalizing it, and treating it similar to alcohol, but until we're to that point we need to have some control over this. There are enough laws out there that have unintended effects.

    Oh, and GPAC, why not just get rid of all laws? I mean, if things like extortion, malpractice, theft, burglary, assault, rape, murder, incest, pedophelia, etc. weren't illegal, I'm sure crime rates would fall dramatically!! Oh, and traffic regulations, that would make things a whole lot easier...

  5. helenros
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    helenros - July 15, 2010 3:51 pm
    "Watching their loved one turn into a couch potato"? Yeah, and think of all the Chee-tos those users are going to eat! Seriously, it's just a stereotype. I don't have an issue with the substance itself; I just think the law needs to be totally re-vamped so the people it was intended to help can actually get help.
  6. hiddenmuggle
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    hiddenmuggle - July 15, 2010 12:30 pm
    dingo said: "The other people affected, hiddenmuggle, are those close to the person using marijuana: kids, spouses, co-workers. These are the people who get to watch the user turn into a vegetative couch potato who ignores his family and forgets to bring home the bacon (and forgets lots of other things as well). And then there are the people out on the road with driving around with these stoners who have to worry about them running red lights and stop signs. Ubiquitous marijuana use is going to turn us into a third world country."

    well I was trying to draw purple out, but yeah I guess you're right. what about the families. My grandma must hate it when I get high and mow her yard or clean her gutters and enjoy doing it. I'm sure she wishes I would stop taking her dog hiking with me, because I find nature so much more beautiful when I'm stoned. And having stoners on the road must suck. Every body hates cautious drivers, cause let's face it, stoners drive much slower than drunks. Maybe if I quit getting high my grades would improve. A 3.8 is quite despicable.
  7. helenros
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    helenros - July 15, 2010 8:06 am
    The problems with the medical marijuana law are huge. There are no legal protections for individuals should they be subjected to an employment-related drug screening. There are no controls in place to require there be an established doctor-patient relationship for someone to issue a med card. Travelling "clinics," reminiscient of old-time snake oil salesmen issue the cards wholesale without even a perfunctory examination. Medical marijuana can be cost-prohibitive (look on the websites of MT providers,) in excess of $200 an ounce with no controls on potency or quality, and no insurance coverage. You can't get a script and fill it at a pharmacy; you have to go to a provider who looks suspiciously like a head shop. The law is vague as to possession limits and what constitutes a caregiver. It's so bad that people with a legitimate need for this medication are choosing to abstain for fear of prosecution or looking like a druggie.

    Either legalize it properly and regulate it properly or repeal the law. This makes no sense and is a nightmare from the standpoint of law enforcement and legitimate users and caregivers.
  8. dingo
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    dingo - July 14, 2010 10:37 pm
    The other people affected, hiddenmuggle, are those close to the person using marijuana: kids, spouses, co-workers. These are the people who get to watch the user turn into a vegetative couch potato who ignores his family and forgets to bring home the bacon (and forgets lots of other things as well). And then there are the people out on the road with driving around with these stoners who have to worry about them running red lights and stop signs. Ubiquitous marijuana use is going to turn us into a third world country.
  9. dingo
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    dingo - July 14, 2010 10:32 pm
    hiddenmuggle said: "Yea All-Knowing and Divinely Accurate Purple, God among minions, please answer pedestrians following questions:please please All Powerful Purple, your fawning and adoring minions need to know what responses we must use when the heathens ask us these questions! We lack the impossible and mighty brain power that you posses and we look to you for correct guidance!"

  10. AnimalLover
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    AnimalLover - July 14, 2010 8:15 pm
    hear hear vett.

    I was wondering, Now that all these evil fiends (MJ users)have shown their true colors, have we seen a change in the crime rates? For surly, now that these worthless scum dopers have gotten legal means to secure this "devil drug" the way of crime must be exploding in our fair state. Lord help us if one of those Demon queer folk get ahold of cannabis.

    How will our CHILDREN survive in this dangerous world? Oh dear, the children will be exposed to the world at some point… WE MUST SAVE THE CHILDREN.

    Mind Your Own F'in Business.

    Oh yeah, donate to Hati.
  11. Shepherd323
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    Shepherd323 - July 14, 2010 6:44 pm
    The law needs some fixing, why is this such a surprise? There are other laws in history that were in need of fixing as well. There are also some laws that didn't work and society would probably be better off such as prohibition. We could replace it with addiction treatment for the abusers, quality control, taxation, and regulation for the users, and last but not least cash transfers to cartels, street gangs, and organized crime as that's basically been the direct consequence of prohibition on criminals who make money from it.
  12. GivePeaceAChance
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    GivePeaceAChance - July 14, 2010 6:21 pm
    everybody on both sides of this issue sound like a bunch of hyenas and think like them too. Just end the war on drugs and legalize everything. Most crime will go away and it will also end the US military chasing around the world "fighting a war on drugs" such as in Central and South America and Mexico which then spills over into our borders. We would save so much money there would not even be a need to tax drugs, but should anyway so the drug can support the treatment costs. Those costs would remain the same as all people who are going to be addicted to something already are and are already getting treatment.

    Of course, the cops and prison guards and parole officers will screech to the top of their lungs but in the end they will find other jobs.

    But the righteous American culture will say ignore alcohol and the prohibition experiences wit it and continue the war on drugs which just started in earnest the late sixities. How the hell did the world ever survive without drug laws before then?
  13. Vett4rights
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    Vett4rights - July 14, 2010 5:31 pm
    Purple....Hello...PTSD is NOT currently a qualifying condition for Montana's Medical Marijuana program. Ever consider that Windex is good for more than glass?? A lot of the "abusers" may not be abusing, rather self medicating with a cheaper medication than Pfizer, or Johnson and Johnson can offer, so they figure that achy back they have had for years, may help out to get thier Medical Marijuana Card, to treat a few other conditions.....food for thought
  14. hiddenmuggle
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    hiddenmuggle - July 14, 2010 3:09 pm
    Yea All-Knowing and Divinely Accurate Purple, God among minions, please answer pedestrians following questions:

    What exactly is the problem with people smoking mj for suspect medical reasons? Why is it a bad thing that 25% of cardholders are in the 18-30 age group? How is anyone but the individual involved affected if in fact that person is just scamming the system to get stoned legally?"

    please please All Powerful Purple, your fawning and adoring minions need to know what responses we must use when the heathens ask us these questions! We lack the impossible and mighty brain power that you posses and we look to you for correct guidance!
  15. Purple
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    Purple - July 14, 2010 12:52 pm
    [vett4rights]

    You seem to be missing the entire point of the story - state lawmakers say medical marijuana abuse is OUT OF CONTROL.

    Meaning many of those using medical marijuana are not qualified for the program, thus they are ABUSING the program.
  16. Vett4rights
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    Vett4rights - July 14, 2010 11:50 am
    Purple, you seriously have no idea do you. You talk down to people with an opinion based argument every time....you have that right, for sure....but if you use factual information, you may get further.

    Fact-The compounds sought after in the cannabis, is in fact a lipid soluble compound. The neurons (nerve cells) in all human bodies are lipid based.

    Fact-To bring it down to a "Purple level" (I've coined this term with friends who like to discuss your postings) Compounds that are either polar or non-polar, biochemically speaking, will absorb compounds that are of the same make up. In the world of chemistry we say..."Like dissolves like."

    Fact- The human body produces many endocannabinoids, of which a few are isolated. Incidentally, the few that are isolated are an exact, carbon copy, of the same found in the trichome glands of many cannabis sativa, cannabis indica, cannabis afghanica, and cannabis ruderallis plants.

    Fact-All human beings are slightly different, just as ibuprofen (Advil) works good for me, acetaminophen (Tylenol) may work for you. The way this works is; there are receptor sites on the surface of cells that have a certain shape and polarity that make it specific to allow one compound to attach to it, and inversely it keeps others out.

    This being said, it could open the possibility up that one medicine, say medical marijuana would work better than say, hydrocodone, an opiate/ACAP mix. One MAAAAAAAJOR difference here is....you can't make hydrocodone at home...haha. I don't know about you, but I don't have money like Lily, Pfizer, or GSK. So I can’t lobby like they can. Let’s say 20% of current traditional medicine users switched to a home grown medicine, and quit paying out for the oxycodone, vicodin, colonipin, etc. 20% of the drug companies combined income would be more than you or I can fathom. Quite the motivator for greedy people.

    To all that read this, I may seem like a liberal pink-o commie who just wants it to be ok to get stoned. Not the case.....not at all. I served overseas as a grunt, early on....not my favorite topic of conversation. It scarred me unbelievably; I never got shot, or blown up with an IED. But I live in a constant haze from not sleeping from nightmares, and panic attacks. I went to the VA for help; the very caring staff there has tied hands in the form of a federal formulary. I was placed on medicine that would lower my blood pressure so much when I stood up, I would pass out. The beauty of this medicine is, the VA was the only entity allowed to prescribe it for nightmares....even though it was a med to lower blood pressure. I was on another that made me gain so much weight it was a concern for my overall health. Another would snow me so bad I would sleep 12-18 hours, wake up and feel like I was in a dream, I couldn’t function. And then the Benzo's....at one time I was on ativan, colonipin, alprazolam, and temazepam....if you know anything about those meds, you know they are all in the same drug class, and highly habit forming one by one, let alone 4 at once. Even a "harmless anti-depressant," Celexa....I still to this day feel the residual effect of the withdrawal. I was so groggy and out of it from polypharmacy I told my doc at the va, and they put me on a stimulant for people with ADD/ADHD. All to mask the side effects of other meds. ALLLLL this mess, and under the guidance of a VA Doc, whose hands are tied to the VA mandated formulary. All in all I was on 10 meds with 2 available for panic attacks...that equals 12 meds. Now since I am a VA patient I didn't pay for those meds....YOU did...they aren’t cheap, and the VA would keep me on them for life if I was OK with it.

    Roughly one year later, I am traditional med free. I don’t get the best of sleep, but I can function at a job and college, quite well actually. My new medication bill for medical marijuana I pay myself via electricity, water, and growing supplies. I am happier, I have less panic attacks, my banged up knees don't hurt as much, I sleep better than when I was on 5 sleep meds from the VA....all from a plant I can grow at home, but because it is not socially acceptable, I have to hide in the shadows. I went through the proper channels, and I do so in compliance with the states laws, and I don’t worry about being harassed by the law so much....it’s my staff at school, my employer, my family, even some of my friends. Why is this???? Because it is too taboo still, because it takes a large portion of revenue from a corporate conglomerate like Pharmaceutical Companies....I buy all local equipment when possible, I pay my power bill to NWE, unlike drug companies who put corporate offices in Bangladesh so they can evade taxes, and use foreign labor sources. Where is the patriotism there??? I'm the one who is chastised....

    I along with other MMJ patients say yes, we do need more regulation.....but let’s consult some experts on this subject, the patients, caregivers, and families of patients.

    Talk to a patient; ask them questions if you don’t know about it.

    Too bad we didn’t have a red flag rally like this for kids put on Ritalin and Seroquel.....THOSE are 2 off the top of my head that need regulated.

    Protect your rights, from your ability to say what you want to your ability carry a firearm, and your right to use medical cannabis.....protect them ALL!
  17. Helena Pedestrian
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    Helena Pedestrian - July 14, 2010 11:01 am
    Article after article says how "out of control" medical marijuana use has become, but they never reference any actual repercussions. What exactly is the problem with people smoking mj for suspect medical reasons? Why is it a bad thing that 25% of cardholders are in the 18-30 age group? How is anyone but the individual involved affected if in fact that person is just scamming the system to get stoned legally? There is no real problem that I can see beyond the preconceived, and I believe erroneous belief that mj use is inherently bad and must be stopped.

    To me, all these lawmakers and concerned citizens seem like busy-bodies forcing themselves into other people's private business. So what's the big deal if someone's "chronic pain" doesn't satisfy your arbitrary definition of what's acceptable? How does that affect anyone but that individual? What's the problem that deserves such hyperbole as "out of control."

    What's really out of control is prohibition and all of the busy-bodies trying to legislate based on their personal ideas of morality. What gives them the right to tell me what I can or can't do in the privacy of my home? Please stop trying to control me and force your morals on me through legislation or back up your hyperbole and convince me there is a real problem.
  18. Fred Freedom
    Report Abuse
    Fred Freedom - July 14, 2010 10:11 am
    And what, oh ye suffering Puritans, exactly is the problem with not-so-sick people "abusing" medical marijuana? They buy it from local providers, (most) smoke it at home and don't bother anybody. The big hysteria here seems to be that, OH NO, people are actually smoking marijuana! In their homes! And we can't arrest them? Injustice! Compared to the state's real problems, this seems to be a cultural complaint about marijuana users getting a free pass, but they fail to identify any REAL problems arising from medical marijuana. If anything, the out-of-state gangsters and Mexican drug lords are the ones losing business. Alcohol kills people every week here in Montana and concerned lawmakers just shrug their shoulders.
  19. helenros
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    helenros - July 14, 2010 7:44 am
    I know individuals who had medical marijuana suggested by their doctors, but have declined because the law is such a mess that all users are now suspect. What a pity that the law is so poorly written that people in true need are uncomfortable accessing this medication. We need to tighten up the language, provide real protection for those who truly need it (including the ability to purchase it in a pharmacy using a doctor's prescription, and employment protection) and pull the med cards from all the stoners.
  20. Purple
    Report Abuse
    Purple - July 14, 2010 2:03 am
    As if this wasn't seen to coming? Those making the decision must have fried too many of their brain cells from previous use of that drug in their earlier days.

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