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  1. #1
    Lightly Toasted lequebecfume's Avatar

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    Thumbs down Bill to restrict medical marijuana draws fire

    Montana News

    Bill to restrict medical marijuana draws fire

    By CHARLES S. JOHNSON Gazette State Bureau Monday, January 31, 2011 5:46 pm

    HELENA — A proposal to make it harder for people to get medical marijuana cards for severe and chronic pain drew plenty of opposition and little support at a hearing on Monday.

    Senate Bill 170, by Senate Majority Leader Jeff Essmann, R-Billings, would require a panel of three physicians experienced in pain management to review and ultimately decide whether to approve or reject another doctor's recommendation that a patient be authorized to use medical marijuana for severe and chronic pain.

    At present, only a single physician's authorization is needed.

    At present, more than 20,000 people have obtained medical marijuana cards after claiming severe or chronic pain out of the 27,300 people who have obtained medical marijuana cards in Montana, according to state health statistics.

    “It is a classification that frankly right now is pretty wide open, and it has allowed some certifying physicians to be pretty loose in the awarding of their diagnosis, over the phone, out of state without a full medical workup,”
    Essmann told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    His bill would change the diagnosis to severe and chronic pain, from severe or chronic pain, defining it as “severe, persistent and intractable pain” that is
    “unrelieved by standard medical treatments or medications”
    over a reasonable amount of time.

    The certifying physician would prepare a report demonstrating that the patient has not responded to traditional forms of pain treatment. The report would go to the three-physician panel, which would have a teleconference to make the final decision.

    “That part of the bill is intended to shut down the traveling circus situation we have now in Montana,”
    Essmann said.

    He was referring to the “cannabis clinics” popular last year that often used out-of-state physicians in person or over the Internet to see people for a few minutes and authorize them to get medical marijuana cards.

    The lone supporter of SB170 was Mark Long, representing the Montana Narcotics Officers Association, called the current medical marijuana situation “a joke.”

    “We just need to close this loophole down so that the people who are just seeking drugs to get high and to make a profit have a little bit tougher time than they do right now,”
    Long said.

    Sixteen people testified against it, with all but one of them either medical marijuana patients or involved in the industry. Most called the three-physician panel unnecessary, a step that would be unaffordable to many people.

    Since being hit by a drunken driver, Valerie Hellermann said, she has had 25 surgeries, has three artificial joints and is in chronic pain.

    “I have been to many pain specialists,”
    she said.
    “The drugs I have been offered were all highly addictive opiates.
    “These drugs do alter the perception of pain. They made me drowsy, hallucinogenic at times and unable to participate in my life or hold a job. I wasn't able to think clearly.”

    In contrast, the use of medical marijuana suggested by her longtime physician
    “allows me be alert, functional, able to work and participate fully and control my discomfort.”

    “Why would my physician need to have his decision reviewed by a panel and pay a fee for prescribing cannabis?”
    Hellermann asked.
    “He doesn't have to do that to prescribe opiates.”

    Amber Cox, 28, a college student from of Missoula said she is recovering from cancer but lives with pain. Medical marijuana helps her treat the pain, Cox said.

    “This would turn currently law-abiding citizens into criminals,”
    she said of the bill.

    Like others, Cox said medical marijuana didn't leave her with all the complications of narcotics she was prescribed.

    “I haven't contemplated suicide since I stopped taking barbiturates,”
    she said.

    Another medical marijuana user, Ken Lindeman, called the bill unfair to patients by imposing an unreasonable financial burden on them by requiring the three-doctor panel.

    Lindeman also took after the Legislature, saying:
    “Representatives are not qualified to make medical recommendations. You guys can't write the rules on pain. This is why we've got doctors.”
    Candace Payne, representing the Rimrock Foundation of Billings, which treats patients with addictions, said she is opposing all bills except those that repeal the entire Montana Medical Marijuana Act.

    “This is a gateway drug for many people,”
    she said.
    “Fixing one area of the Medical Marijuana Act will not cure the problem. The entire act needs to repealed.”
    The committee took no immediate action on the bill.
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  2. #2
    Shadbot 4.20 Shadimar's Avatar

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    At an anti-drug school assembly, the speaker asked the audience why they thought the drug death rate for students was so much lower than it is for older age groups. Someone shouted out
    Because you can't die from weed!
    Thankfully the informed are outnumbering the uninformed more and more each day.

    Canada did a study and found 9 out of 10 Heroin users hadn't ever thought of heroin before their doctors put them on opiods. The classic story is high dose abruptly cut down to nothing without any care for the sudden withdrawal. Naturally the patient sought out replacements and eventually graduated to heroin as it was available and cheaper than paying for pills.

    While never having been prescribed opiates, nor any pain medication despite a chronic pain condition, I've also been at the receiving end of the chemical games played by doctors who seem to be completely unaware that abruptly starting and stopping high doses of pharmaceuticals is not a bright idea. I've also seen others go through similar ordeals including one patient that had been on long term hydrocodone until his doctor moved away and the replacement decided that he didn't need it. She refused to renew his prescription and left him to suffer through withdrawal without even so much as a Tylenol #3. In any other field that would be considered a malicious act of criminal negligence.

    It's stunning that someone had the ignorance to claim cannabis is a problem but also on a more positive note the room was full of voices of reason asking why it's so much easier to receive a prescription for narcotics than it is to get a plant safer than strawberries.

    They can scream about how the sun is going out for hours and hours, but eventually sunrise returns and they simply look foolish. History will judge the opposition to cannabis much as we see them now - ignorant and manipulative or misguided and frustrated. Either way, anyone who yells about cannabis induced psychosis, crime and hard drug addiction then has to reconcile the fact that the recent upswing in open medical use has not increased such incidents certainly has something going for them in the way of nerve.

    Cannabis is indeed a gateway - a gateway out of the pharmaceutical realm of eating more pills than food every day.
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  3. #3
    Vegetative Member paddyk's Avatar

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    very well stated Shadimar.

  4. #4
    Seedling HBMT's Avatar

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    the rocky mountain grasshopper dispensary has flown down two reps to attend the meetings on monday
    "Once you consent to some concession, you can never cancel it and put things back the way they are." - Howard Hughes

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