Drug Law
Drug Law

Montana Changes Medical Marijuana Law

| by NORML
Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer is going to let SB 423 “Repeal Lite” pass without his signature.  The Wall Street Journal referred to this as the “Wild Wild West” getting “tamer”.  Actually what is happening is that about 28,000 people will become criminals on July 1 and the businesses that used to serve them in an open and regulated manner will now return to illegal clandestine operations that receive no control and return no benefit to the state.

That sounds more like the “Wild Wild West” to me than a system where people register with the state after consulting a doctor in order to purchase cannabis in a retail store.

Here are the changes that will take place as of July 1, 2011, in Montana:

(C) SEVERE CHRONIC PAIN THAT IS PERSISTENT PAIN OF SEVERE INTENSITY THAT SIGNIFICANTLY INTERFERES WITH DAILY ACTIVITIES AS DOCUMENTED BY THE PATIENT’S TREATING PHYSICIAN AND BY:

(I) OBJECTIVE PROOF OF THE ETIOLOGY OF THE PAIN, INCLUDING RELEVANT AND NECESSARY DIAGNOSTIC TESTS THAT MAY INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO THE RESULTS OF AN X-RAY, COMPUTERIZED TOMOGRAPHY SCAN, OR MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING; OR

(II) CONFIRMATION OF THAT DIAGNOSIS FROM A SECOND PHYSICIAN WHO IS INDEPENDENT OF THE TREATING PHYSICIAN AND WHO CONDUCTS A PHYSICAL EXAMINATION;

Translation: If you’re a pain patient, now you need to see your primary physician to verify your pain is severe and persistent.  Then you have to get an MRI or some other scan to prove it.  Then you have to go to a second doctor to verify everything your first doctor and the scans proved. 

Don’t worry if you can’t afford two separate doctor visits and specialized scanning.  Don’t worry that your health insurance, if you’re lucky enough to have it, probably won’t cover a scan and a second opinion.  I’m sure your first doctor will be happy to write you prescriptions for Vicodin, Percocet, Darvocet, or some other addictive, toxic opioid painkiller with horrendous side effects.  That will be far easier than recommending you try safe, effective, non-toxic cannabis.

(2) The department shall issue a registry identification card to a minor if …

(II) the minor’s custodial parent or legal guardian with responsibility for health care decisions…

(C) AGREES THAT THE MINOR WILL USE ONLY MARIJUANA-INFUSED PRODUCTS AND WILL NOT SMOKE MARIJUANA;

(D) undergoes a name-based SUBMITS FINGERPRINTS TO FACILITATE A FINGERPRINT AND background check BY THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AND FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION. The parent or legal guardian shall pay the costs of the background check…

(3) AN APPLICATION FOR A REGISTRY IDENTIFICATION CARD FOR A MINOR MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY THE WRITTEN CERTIFICATION AND ACCOMPANYING STATEMENTS REQUIRED PURSUANT TO [SECTION 7] FROM A SECOND PHYSICIAN IN ADDITION TO THE MINOR’S TREATING PHYSICIAN OR REFERRAL PHYSICIAN.

Translation: You can get medical marijuana to help your kid deal with the intense nausea he suffers when you take him in for chemotherapy.  However, you’ve got to get a second opinion on medical marijuana use from another doctor.  Also, your violently-heaving child isn’t allowed to inhale his cannabis and get immediate relied; he has to try to eat his cannabis in pill, tincture, or edible form without immediately puking it back up and then he must wait the 45 minutes it takes to act through the digestive system.

If that’s too much trouble or expense, I’m sure your first doctor will have all manner of pharmaceutical remedies that will provide little relief and many side effects.

(3) (A) (I) A provider OR MARIJUANA-INFUSED PRODUCTS PROVIDER may assist A MAXIMUM OF THREE REGISTERED CARDHOLDERS….

(6) A provider OR MARIJUANA-INFUSED PRODUCTS PROVIDER may not:

(a) accept ANYTHING OF VALUE, INCLUDING MONETARY REMUNERATION, for any services or products provided to a registered cardholder;

(B) BUY OR SELL MATURE MARIJUANA PLANTS, SEEDLINGS, CUTTINGS, CLONES, USABLE MARIJUANA, OR MARIJUANA-INFUSED PRODUCTS;

Translation: No more dispensaries.  If you need cannabis as medicine, you have to grow it yourself.  Where do you get the seed or clone?  By a provider donating it to you for free out of the goodness of his heart, but only if he isn’t already helping three patients.  If you are lucky enough to find a provider who can make you one of his three patients, he can give you medicine, again, for free.  You can’t even reimburse him for the expenses of lights, soil, water, nutrients, etc.  You can only cover the cost of his medical marijuana provider card.

If that’s too much trouble or expense, don’t worry.  There will be plenty of cannabis seeds, plants, and medicine for sale in your local park, back alley, street corner, or “some dude’s house”.  You won’t have much choice of strains, preparations, or potency, and you’ll have no idea whether it’s been properly flushed, was grown with pesticides and fungicides, or if it even weighs accurately.  But if you wanted consistency, testing, and choice, you’d take one of the many pharmaceuticals your doctor offers, right?

Section 7.  WRITTEN CERTIFICATION — ACCOMPANYING STATEMENTS. (1) The written certification provided by a physician must BE MADE ON A FORM PRESCRIBED BY THE DEPARTMENT AND SIGNED AND DATED BY THE PHYSICIAN. THE WRITTEN CERTIFICATION MUST…

(a) confirm that the physician is:

(I) the person’s treating physician and that the person has been under the physician’s ONGOING medical care AS PART OF A BONA FIDE PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH THE PERSON;

Translation: Your regular doctor – not some guy in an Airstream trailer, a hotel room, or via Skype – must recommend your medical marijuana.

Oh, your doctor isn’t allowed to sign because he works for the VA, works for a major health care company, works for a major HMO, works for a professional clinic, works for a university hospital, or uses insurance that forbids it?  Or, perhaps, he just doesn’t want the stigma and hassles involved with being a “pot doc”?  Don’t worry, he’s got all sorts of great pharmaceuticals for you to try.

Section 9.  Health care facility procedures for patients with marijuana for use. (1) (A) Except for hospices AND RESIDENTIAL CARE FACILITIES that allow the use of marijuana as provided in [section 11], a health care facility as defined in 50-5-101 shall take the following measures when a patient who is a registered cardholder has marijuana in the patient’s possession upon admission to the health care facility:

(a)(I) require the patient to remove the marijuana from the premises before the patient is admitted if the patient is able to do so…

(B) IF A PATIENT IS UNABLE TO REMOVE THE MARIJUANA OR THE HEALTH CARE FACILITY IS UNABLE TO CONTACT AN INDIVIDUAL AS PROVIDED IN SUBSECTION (1)(A), THE FACILITY SHALL contact the local law enforcement agency having jurisdiction in the area where the facility is located.

Translation: If you’re unconscious and need emergency care and the ambulance takes you to a hospital that doesn’t allow for medical marijuana (i.e., most of them), the cops will be called to come take and destroy your medicine before you’re allowed to be admitted.

Don’t worry, though.  Since your provider is giving you medicine for free now, it’s really no big deal, right?

(2) A LOCAL GOVERNMENT MAY ADOPT AN ORDINANCE OR RESOLUTION PROHIBITING PROVIDERS AND MARIJUANA-INFUSED PRODUCTS PROVIDERS FROM OPERATING AS STOREFRONT BUSINESSES.

Seems unnecessary, since providers can only serve three patients and can’t accept any money for anything but their registry card.  But just to be sure nobody dares put up a pot leaf sign on Main Street…

SECTION 14.  INSPECTION PROCEDURES. (1) THE DEPARTMENT AND STATE OR LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES MAY CONDUCT, UNANNOUNCED INSPECTIONS OF REGISTERED PREMISES.

(2) (A) EACH PROVIDER AND MARIJUANA-INFUSED PRODUCTS PROVIDER SHALL KEEP A COMPLETE SET OF RECORDS NECESSARY TO SHOW ALL TRANSACTIONS WITH REGISTERED CARDHOLDERS. THE RECORDS MUST BE OPEN FOR INSPECTION BY THE DEPARTMENT AND STATE OR LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES AT ANY TIME DURING NORMAL BUSINESS HOURS….

(4) A PROVIDER OR MARIJUANA-INFUSED PRODUCTS PROVIDER SHALL MAINTAIN RECORDS SHOWING THE NAMES AND REGISTRY IDENTIFICATION NUMBERS OF REGISTERED CARDHOLDERS TO WHOM MATURE PLANTS, SEEDLINGS, USABLE MARIJUANA, OR MARIJUANA-INFUSED PRODUCTS WERE TRANSFERRED AND THE QUANTITIES TRANSFERRED TO EACH CARDHOLDER.

Translation: The state or local cops can show up to your grow any time they like and you must keep and provide for them a prosecutor’s wet dream of organized evidence proving a federal criminal conspiracy in drug manufacture and trafficking.

Don’t worry, being required to keep explicit records of all their deals won’t deter providers from helping patients any more than being required to do it all for free.  Just get onto Craigslist or Facebook or look up your local alternative paper’s classifieds to find these altruistic providers who will help three patients for free while keeping records of federal conspiracy…

SECTION 20.  ADVERTISING PROHIBITED. PERSONS WITH VALID REGISTRY IDENTIFICATION CARDS MAY NOT ADVERTISE MARIJUANA OR MARIJUANA-RELATED PRODUCTS IN ANY MEDIUM, INCLUDING ELECTRONIC MEDIA.

…oh, never mind.  I guess you’ll just have to meet these strangers on your own in your neighborhoods.

SECTION 21.  HOTLINE. (1) THE DEPARTMENT SHALL CREATE AND MAINTAIN A HOTLINE TO RECEIVE REPORTS OF SUSPECTED ABUSE OF THE PROVISIONS OF [SECTIONS 1 THROUGH 23].

(2) THE DEPARTMENT MAY:

(A) INVESTIGATE REPORTS OF SUSPECTED ABUSE OF THE PROVISIONS OF [SECTIONS 1 THROUGH 23]; OR

(B) REFER REPORTS OF SUSPECTED ABUSE TO THE LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY HAVING JURISDICTION IN THE AREA WHERE THE SUSPECTED ABUSE IS OCCURRING.

Translation: Your neighbor who doesn’t like the smell of pot now has a hotline she can call to complain and have cops send to your home to investigate your suspected “abuse”.

(4) A telemedicine license may not be used by a physician as a means to obtain the information required for the written certification AND ACCOMPANYING STATEMENTS used to apply for a registry identification card pursuant to [sections 1 through 23].

Translation:  Telemedicine, as defined by Montana law, is “the practice of medicine (to diagnose, treat, or correct human conditions, ailments, diseases, injuries, or infirmities, whether physical or mental) by a physician located outside the state who performs an evaluative or therapeutic act relating to the treatment or correction of a patient’s physical or mental condition, ailment, disease, injury, or infirmity and who transmits that evaluative or therapeutic act into Montana through any means, method, device, or instrumentality.”

In other words, a doctor could use Skype to review your x-rays from a car accident.  He could consult with you on diet and exercise.  He could counsel you to treat a mental illness.  He could diagnose you and offer treatments for nearly any medical condition… except medical marijuana.

There you have it, SB 423, designed to curb “abuse” of Montana’s medical marijuana law, meaning “we think too many people are using it”.  If it were a new pharmaceutical pill that was cheap, non-addictive, low in side effects, and effective treatment for so many conditions, you couldn’t have too many people using it.  Ads would tout it as the best-selling prescription medication in America.  Medical journals would be heralding it and encouraging its use in place of much more dangerous and less effective medications.  The government would rush it through the approvals process and provide public service materials promoting it.

But since this is a plant that was in a Cheech & Chong movie, its popularity equals “abuse”.