MT: Medical Marijuana Cutoff Would Harm Cancer Patients


I am 80 years old. On May 3, 2016, I was diagnosed with stage four metastatic pancreatic cancer. On May 5, I began chemotherapy, which I will continue until it no longer is effective at holding the cancer at bay.

Medical marijuana has become an important part of my battle against cancer. Over the last dozen years, I have had considerable sleep issues, including sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome. I participated in a sleep lab twice, I tried using a CPAP machine, obtained a mandibular device and was prescribed endless pharmaceuticals to attempt to alleviate my sleep problems.

After my cancer diagnosis, my sleep problems increased. In early June, I believe I went three days and nights without sleep (if I slept at all, it was a light drifting in and out). It is not possible to fight cancer and endure chemotherapy without sleep.

I discussed trying medical marijuana with my oncologist, and obtained a prescription and a state-issued card. In my life, I have never been a pot smoker. I tried it a few times, which I can count on one hand. But marijuana was never a recreational drug I chose to use or enjoy. When I turned to medical marijuana in June, it was solely for its claimed medicinal benefits.

I’ll be honest: I’m still experimenting with it. My sleep isn’t 100 percent. I’m trying different strains, methods of consumption and quantities, and in combination with prescription medicines. But since starting medical marijuana, my sleep is improved from where it was previously. I am using medical marijuana for the very reason voters passed the initiative approving its use in November 2004, and only for that reason.

Which brings me to my reason for writing this letter. When the 2004 initiative was passed, it had little structure and was open-ended. It was likely abused by some who obtained marijuana cards but did not have legitimate medical problems. Unfortunately, the 2011 Montana Legislature responded not with “tightening” the 2004 law but by passing a draconian measure. Although it was touted as placing reasonable restrictions on the old law, it ended up making medical marijuana inaccessible to most legitimate users.

Why? The predominant reason is because under the 2011 law, providers are limited to selling to three patients only. In effect, this will put providers out of business, making medical marijuana unavailable to thousands of Montanans, like me, unless they choose to grow their own, which is not easily done. Because of a legal challenge, the 2011 law was “stayed” by the courts, but was recently ordered to go into effect Aug. 31. That means thousands of Montanans are in danger of being without their medication.

It is not a coincidence that the door may be opened again by Montana voters in November. I-182, a citizens’ initiative, received enough signatures from Montana voters to be placed on November’s ballot. It keeps a number of responsible restrictions on the public’s access to medical marijuana, but in a workable fashion. Most importantly, it removes the three-patient limit on providers, which in turn will enable them to stay in business so that people like me will continue to be able to purchase medical marijuana legitimately, from licensed providers.

The initiative’s backers asked the courts to delay implementation of the 2011 law by two months, until Election Day. With a delay, Montanans like me would not have to worry about having their medical needs met for these two-plus months. This seems to be a practical resolution to a needlessly complicated situation.

I urge Montana’s courts to delay implementation of the law until election day. Most importantly, I urge Montana voters to support I-182 on Nov. 8.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Medical Marijuana Cutoff Would Harm Cancer Patients
Author: Bob Ream
Contact: (406) 791-1444
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Website: Great Falls Tribune