Meet Montana’s “Scourge”


Scourge: 1.  A source of widespread dreadful affliction and devastation such as that caused by pestilence or war.

I witnessed most of the medical marijuana testimony in Helena the past few months, testimony given primarily by Montanans who Rep. Dave Howard has termed the  “scourge”.   While some of the stories are more riveting  than others, there are numerous patients whose testimony is etched into my brain permanently.  It takes a lot to make me cry, but to make me cry in public requires far more.  The stories of several patients accomplished just that.   I don’t know that I could sleep at night if I had sought to deny a suffering human being a safe, effective, and sometimes life-saving medication simply to reinforce my poor parenting skills.   Meet a few members of Montana’s “Scourge”.

“Sometimes the most compassionate answer you can give is NO, you don’t need this.”–Sen Rowlie Hutton (R- Havre). For a clear contrast and a lesson in conservative compassion, Senator Hutton’s closing arguments on HB 161 are below.

 To Sen. Hutton I say, with no compassion whatsoever, that “we don’t need you.”  It seems the majority party in Montana’s legislature needs a reminder that they aren’t playing a game- these are real people’s lives being manipulated by their puritanical policies. 

Scourge:  2. a tormentor, somebody or something that is perceived as an agent of punishment, destruction, or severe criticism.

Who is the real “scourge”?

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16 thoughts on “Meet Montana’s “Scourge”

  1. Hi. I tried to watch the videos, but they wouldn’t come up. Is anyone else having this problem, or is it just my computer? Thanks.

  2. Well Montanafesto, those sick people are who I was thinking of when I voted in favor of medical marijuana.

    What I didn’t forsee, was the travelling card-sales doctors, and nearly 30,000 people buying cards.

    I hope the regulatory bill coming out of the legislature closes some of the loopholes.

      • I believe that hangovers are not a debilitating disease, and I believe that every 19-year-old who has a MM card does not have chronic pain.

        Judge Kniseley gave a nice overview of getting cards last fall, when they sent a man to a travelling caregiver, and when they asked him what was wrong with him, he told them he liked to drink, and he got hangovers, and that he needed something for the pain. The Dr. said “We can’t have that” and sold him a card.

        I didn’t vote for that – sorry.

        Maybe SB423 isn’t the answer, and we need to get a better initiative on the next ballot.

        • Eric,
          The way I look at it is in any industry, there are those who exploit loopholes and take advantage of decent people. Medical marijuana is no different but for some reason it seems to be held to a different standard of purity. Using one story- out of 30,000- is an unfair justification of dangerous legislation. If a marijuana user gets his card allowing legal access to the substance, why do you care whether he needs it or not? I don’t necessarily believe that story anyway- I’d really like to interview the physician who wrote the recommendation- maybe the 19 yr old actually suffers from AIDS or something he’d rather not publicize. I don’t know, it just doesn’t really seem like that big of a deal. If he is using marijuana now, he would likely be using it anyway, if our medical law didn’t exist. This way, at least the state is aware- with black market drug dealers, who knows where they are. They certainly aren’t advertising their location to the state.

          There are actually many health benefits to using marijuana. I’m not a user currently, but I am considering its preventative use. Chemicals in cannabis can kill several types of cancer and possess anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

          Regardless, as long as the 19 year old in question isn’t infringing upon the rights of others, why do you even care? What people do in the privacy of their homes shouldn’t be anyone’s concern.

  3. Hi Eric I’m so glad you posted because it made me realize why so many people like you feel like you do about I148. In 2004, perhaps many Montanans who voted “Yes” for I148 thought that they were just voting for severely disabled people or people on their death beds to have access to cannabis. Medical cannabis has numerous applications in these medical instances, but it also is quite effective in the treatment of CHRONIC illnesses. To many Montana citizens suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, MS, fibromyalgia, spinal conditions, neuropathy, glaucoma, chronic pain, chronic nausea, etc., there is the need for long term medication. Yes, these people can survive without it, but we’re talking QUALITY of life here. For many, the choice is to take physcially addictive, habit forming pharmaceutical narcotics on a long term basis and just deal with becoming addicted and the long term side effects of drug toxicity on their bodies, or to ingest or smoke medical cannabis, which is non toxic, non physically addicitve, has no lethal dose, and no long term side effects have been noted, even in heavy users. The whole point of medical cannabis is that it is a SAFER alternative to commonly prescribed approved drugs for these conditions. These people suffering from chronic conditions are all ages, and most still need to work for a living, raise their children, and go about the pursuit of freedom. You can’t do this if you are drugged out of your mind on OxyCodon or Percocet, or maybe Valuim as a muscle relaxer. All you can do is lay around and be a vegetable. If you ingest or smoke a little cannabis, you can work, interact and play with your kids, live your life, and hopefully BE LEGAL WHILE YOU’RE DOING IT!

  4. Eric, I’m sure what you’re saying is true, but I don’t think that those kinds of cases are the majority. In any system there are always abuses. In this case, the abuse by the doctor and the hung over 19 year old resulted in someone consuming marijuana that he got legally, albeit through questionable actions. A pretty benign crime if you ask me, but none the less an abuse of the system. Initiative 148 includes language to try to prevent these types of actions, but certain individuals choose to step outside the boundaries of the law. In your example both the doctor and the patient were fraudulent. I’m sure that there are many people who obtain prescriptions for medications that they really don’t need and abuse them. It’s part of human nature and is no different with medical marijuana. If you look at recent news, these people are being cracked down on hard by the law. I’ve read of 2 cases where people with medical marijuana cards shared medical cannabis with individuals who didn’t have cards. In both cases, the medical card holders were arrested and charged with felonies. In neither case were the people who consumed the cannabis who didn’t have cards charged with anything. So let’s go a step further and say that your hung over 19 year old was really just doing marijuana recreationally, and wanted to be legal while he did it. Again, I consider this to be a pretty benign infraction. His actions hurt no one and, in my opinion, should have been none of the government’s business in the first place.

  5. Well guys – according to the Billings gazette this morning, the Justice Dept informed the Montana Legislature that they will continue to pursue and prosecute Marijuana dealers/users despite any contradictions in State Law.

    So if your goal is to legalize marijuana, which appears to be your goal, isn’t the place to do it in Congress? And what is The Great Leaders position on weed, is he ready to sign a bill legalizing it ?

    • I’m not sure who the “great leader” is, Eric. I never said my goal is to legalize marijuana, I’m not a marijuana user either. We are really only talking about medicinal use here. Alcohol prohibition required a constitutional amendment, please explain to me why this is any different…..

    • You’re right Eric. Congress would be a good place to start and, in fact, the Obama administration has as of May 2010, been reviewing a petition filed in 2002 by marijuana advocates like NORML to get it off of Schedule 1 of the controlled substance act (CSA). Currently 16 states and Washington D.C. have legalized the use of medical marijuana, and hemp products are sold widely in the U.S. today. I believe that it is on the ballot in another 12-15 states this year, and outright legalization has been approached in Washington state. Rescheduling proponents argue that cannabis does not meet the Controlled Substances Act’s strict criteria for placement in Schedule I, and therefore the government is required by law either to PERMIT MEDICAL USE or to REMOVE FROM FEDERAL CONTROL ALL TOGETHER. So, your point about legalization verses medical use, is quite valid. My position is to legalize and tax. States are taking the medical route because there are definitely medicinal applications that warrant pushing the issue. The more states that can get it legalized for medical use, the more ammunition to force the feds to take it off the CSA Schedule 1, and hopefully entirely off the CSA eventually. So, I push for medicinal marijuana because my goal is to eventually do away with marijuana prohibition, and MMJ laws are moving us in that direction. Additionally, I am a medical researcher and marijuana prohibition is preventing a lot of research in the US that involves the unaltered plant product. It seems that good old pot is much more effective when smoked or ingested than any of the purified derivatives that pharmaceutical compaines sell. There are many different cannabinoids in high grade medicinal marijuana, and they work together synergistically. We need to be able to conduct scientific studies on just how effective MMJ is. More and more has come out in recent years largely because of studies done in states that have MMJ access, and the field is exploding. A preventative effect in the development of Alzheimer’s disease has recently been discovered, as well as other general neuroprotective, anti oxidant and anti inflammatory applications. The list of potential diseases and chronic conditions that MMJ could be effective against is staggering, and this research MUST be done, and done soon. As far as the article in the Gazette, I think it is pure postering by the GOP. They asked for assistance and an opinion, and they got the standard line. No surprises there. They’re not too worried about the federal stance when it comes to other things like Obamacare, Endangered Species Act, EPA regs, but in this case they’ll use anything they can get to try to legitimate their ever shifting standards regarding personal liberties and state’s rights.

  6. My brother has a bad back and resulting cardiac problems to this day from a Doctor prescribed drug. He is currently on oxycodone, has been for 10+ years, I am a disabled veteran, spinal injury, morphine and oxy for 15+ and a variety of other nasty drugs before that, eating my stomach, ruining my hearing: We are two excellent examples of the ideal MMJ Chronic Pain patients and I can easily imagine there are 30,000 of us in a state with nearly a million people. I really think that is where the outrage is coming from-some poor folks imagine there are only 300 legit cases in Montana? Give me a break. What we really should do is follow Mexico and Portugal’s example and legalize personal use possession of ALL drugs. Since doing so in 2006 addiction rates have fallen by 65% and teen-age use is at it’s lowest level EVER. To boot, they have no government rehab in Mexico, all private and available free. In Portugal there is plentiful, free treatment of course as they have single payer healthcare. Love this blog, by the way. I was beginning to believe all the real conservatives were dead or something.

    • After so many years on oxy, how is your liver? I cannot even imagine. While I’m not going to get into health care reform today (I’m in the process of packing as I’m moving next week and know I’d be sidetracked for hours if I started on healthcare reform), I will admit that the “war” on “drugs” isn’t really a war and it isn’t really about drugs. Marijuana is one of the most harmless substances on earth- you can die of an overdose of even water, but not cannabis.

      The real conservatives aren’t dead…. they just aren’t in the legislature, although there are a couple of exceptions. I’m beginning to wonder where they all are though- my friends are disappearing in droves. 😉 Glad you enjoy the blog. We appreciate the kind words.

    • Robert, you are so right about legalizing all drugs. I will not vote for a presidential candidate that does not endorse ending the War on Drugs. It’s a travesty that must stop for social, economic and philosophical reasons. I was encouraged to see that a REPUBLICAN, Gary Johnson (former New Mexico governor) , has thrown his hat into the race for the Republican presidential nomination. He supports legalization of marujuana as well as ending the wars abroad. I’m very encouraged by this, and it helps me feel a little bit better about the Republican party.

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