I-182: a dangerous segue to Montana medicinal and recreational marijuana use

By: 
By STEVE ZABAWA and MATT RICH

Safe Montana (I-176) supports the Montana Supreme Court’s decision on SB-423 and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to not hear the appeal by the Montana Cannabis Industry to further delay the Aug. 31 implementation of SB-423. No longer will three doctors be able to recommend (not prescribe) green cards for 70 percent of the medical marijuana patients in Montana and not ensure the appropriate standard of care. No longer will patients be given medical marijuana without the oversight and monitoring of a doctor. No longer will growers be able to grow and sell marijuana without the oversight and inspections that would keep them from selling marijuana recreationally.

Further, Safe Montana absolutely rejects the claims that the Montana Marijuana Expansion Act I-182 is accountable and responsible. In fact, I-182 would be devastating to Montana. It would not only continue but also expand a legalized method of distributing marijuana, and a dangerous system would exist because of a desperate act by an industry that vehemently worked against self-regulation over the past 12 years.

Until it became apparent that I-176 would be on the ballot and that the marijuana industry would be impacted by the Supreme Court ruling allowing SB-423 to stand, the marijuana providers had no interest in self-regulating their industry or setting standards that would guarantee the quality and the safety of marijuana in Montana. The authors of I-182 want Montanans to believe that their newly found interest in the remake of their industry would make medical marijuana safe. It wouldn’t for either the clients or the people trying to protect their families and communities from recreational marijuana use.

I-182 does not have a protocol for a generally accepted standard of care. It does not guarantee that clients will be seen, diagnosed and monitored by a doctor. In fact, physicians will not be able to prescribe marijuana until it becomes a Schedule 2 drug. Physicians can only recommend to the state that a client be issued the green card. Any physician who is connected to any hospital that receives federal money will not be able to work directly with patients. So therefore, marijuana will not become a part of a pain regimen under the care of a doctor nor will it be under normal medical protocols.

The “new and improved” I-182 will remove important measures such as an automatic review of physician’s practices if the physician provides written certification for 25 or more patients. The board of medical examiners will no longer have oversight over the standard of care of those doctors who have thousands of clients. Also, proof of the etiology of pain will no longer be required.

I-182 is not only irresponsible; it is a dangerous segue to a destructive path of unmonitored medicinal and recreational use of marijuana in Montana. The medical marijuana industry in Montana had a chance for 12 years to help ensure that clients were given the opportunity to receive a quality standard of care, that the industry would not grow marijuana for recreational use, and that medicinal marijuana would be tested, measured and monitored. Because marijuana has the potential to be used medicinally, it should be treated with the same standards and medical protocols that FDA-approved prescription medications are required to pass.

Medicinal marijuana can be treated the same as other prescription drugs. However, we must get rid of the pot shops and their resident drug dealers whose underlying motive is profiting from those in need. It is time to take medical decisions out of the hands of unqualified providers and shopkeepers.

 

Steve Zabawa and Matt Rich are affiliated with SafeMontana.com.

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