Marijuana-Using Patients Uneasy About Unknowns 

Marijuana-Using Patients Uneasy About Unknowns 
Posted by CN Staff on March 27, 2005 at 08:09:48 PT
By Linda Halstead-Acharya Of The Gazette Staff 
Source: Billings Gazette
Montana -- Allen would give anything for a handbook on how and when to tell his young son that he uses medical marijuana. "I'd be a much more open advocate if I didn't worry about my family," said Allen, a Yellowstone County resident in his late 30s who didn't want his real name used. He smokes marijuana for medical reasons, and he's had a hard enough time breaking the news to his conservative parents. He was surprised by their acceptance. "But what am I going to do when it comes time to talk to my son?" he asked.
He knows his elementary school-age son will be taught about drug abuse at school, and he supports that. But he's concerned his son will be told that only "druggies" use marijuana, and that worries him. Right now, Allen smokes a very small amount of marijuana in the evenings to "get his meal down" - he has suffered from loss of appetite and extreme weight loss - and to help with anxiety and symptoms from post-traumatic stress disorder. Using marijuana, he says, has allowed him to say goodbye to a laundry list of medications and their undesirable side effects. For him, the marijuana has had virtually none. Allen doesn't want to say how he gets his marijuana. He keeps it locked away and never smokes it in front of his son. He doesn't use it during the day, nor does he carry it around. And he would never consider driving after smoking, even though he believes his impairment is minimal. "You notice it (effects), almost like any other prescription medicine you're on," he said. Allen has discussed medical marijuana with his primary physician and two other specialists and they basically said go ahead if it works, he said. But, they don't want to sign the form that acknowledges that he is qualified under the new statute to use marijuana until the law is clarified further. And Allen doesn't want to register with the state as a medical marijuana user because he wants to remain anonymous. "There is so much fear," he said, "not so much on a day-to-day basis, but there's still fear. If I were using insulin, that would be fine." The risk level jumps significantly when it comes to obtaining marijuana. The statute allows a qualified patient or registered caregiver to have up to six plants and one ounce of marijuana, but there is no provision that addresses where the patient can get that supply. "That's one of the most frightening parts about this," he said. Not Just for HippiesWalter Simon, a 69-year-old resident of Lake County, is a registered card holder. But Simon, who describes himself as "middle class, law-abiding and not a part of the '60s culture," hasn't used marijuana for several months now because he doesn't have a legal source and it would take a season to grow a crop. "I can't afford to purchase it, nor will I run the risk," he said. He figures one plant a year would more than cover his needs, but he doesn't know where he would grow one if he had the seeds. "I'm not a gardener nor do I want to grow it in my apartment," he said. "And I can't get a successful answer if I can grow off location." Simon qualified for his card due to what he refers to as his "six-year affair with cancer." He's used marijuana casually over the years to address some of the symptoms associated with his cancer. It gives him a feeling of well-being, stimulates his appetite and has helped him sleep through some "terrible nights of doubt and fear." Simon went public in support of Initiative 148, a move that cost him his privacy. Before the act passed, Simon had tried Marinol, a prescription drug made from the active ingredient found in marijuana. But, the drug led to compulsive overeating, uncomfortable illusions in his peripheral vision and a feeling of dullness. "There is no comparison between marijuana and Marinol, based on personal experience," he said. Financially broke from three major operations, Simon was unable to pay the $200 fee to register with the state. The Medical Marijuana Policy Project, a national organization that supports the medical use of marijuana, picked up the tab. Bruce Mirken, director of communications for that organization, said Montana's fee is on the high end compared to the nine other states that have similar laws. When Montana's law passed, the MMPP chipped in $2,000 to help Montanans who could not come up with the fee. There is still $1,000 left in the fund, he said. Simon was stunned when I-148 passed. "The voters of Montana have spoken, but change will be a slow and evolving process," he said. He knows it'll take time for the many unanswered issues to be resolved, but he envisions a day when a community caregiver/grower can grow and provide access to medical marijuana for card holders at a reasonable cost. "I hope it will happen in my remaining time," he said. Robin Prosser, 48, of Missoula, is another card holder. She has suffered from systemic lupus for 20 years and she has spent 10 years fighting to legalize marijuana for medical use. With her long medical history, she had no trouble getting her physician to sign. "I'm finding that the sickest among us, if there's no other resort, the doctors are more than willing - if they have a long documented history, which is ultimately what it should be," she said. "I'd just like to see other people get relief if there's nothing else that'll help." Six months before the initiative passed, she had a run-in with the law and was charged with possession of marijuana. The charges were later dropped under the condition she abide by the law. Now she considers herself doubly covered in Missoula County. "But law enforcement goes county by county," she said. "It's a well-known fact that some counties will be tougher." When it comes to medical marijuana, Prosser advocates openness. "(We need) to be above board with it to avoid black market issues," she said. "That'd be bad for everybody." She's also talked about putting together a pamphlet to clarify the law for physicians. "There are a lot of misconceptions," she said. "There are going to be a host of things to be addressed." Allen sees the process ahead as baby steps - steps that have left him with trepidation and one major concern. "I know I have to have that conversation with him (son)," he said. "That's probably my most legitimate fear."Source: Billings Gazette, The (MT)Author: Linda Halstead-Acharya Of The Gazette Staff Published: March 27, 2005Copyright: 2005 The Billings GazetteContact: speakup billingsgazette.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Montana Cares Marijuana Group Offers Help Authorities Work To Establish Protocol Law Creates Tangle of Legal Issues
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Comment #5 posted by afterburner on March 28, 2005 at 12:25:56 PT
Be Careful, Harry, Whose Intelligence You Malign
"If CDFA approves organic certification for marijuana production, the department should be the first state department to be disbanded for a lack of intelligence." Comment #4 --Column: Mendocino After Another first: Certified Organic Marijuana, By Harry Cline Taking medical cannabis out of the hands of criminals of the black market and regulating it like any other crop is a worthy goal."I just returned from Canada where that nation is mourning the death of four Mounties killed in a marijuana raid." --Harry Cline again.If you were half the journalist you claim to be, Harry, you would know that the 4 Mounties died in a bungled truck repossession raid, NOT a marijuana raid!
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on March 28, 2005 at 10:36:58 PT
News Article About Organic MMJ in Mendocino
I wasn't sure about this article because I thought they already ruled in this case and said no. Here's the article.***Column: Mendocino After Another first: Certified Organic MarijuanaMar 28, 2005 By Harry Cline Mendocino County, Calif., must have an insatiable drive to collect dubious firsts. 
It was the first county in the U.S. to ban biotech crops via county ballot initiative. It was totally symbolic and political. Nevertheless, it was the first and the county seemingly dominated politically by aging societal dropouts and counter-culturists now wants to claim another sordid first.Mendocino wants to be the first county to certify organic "medical" marijuana production. Why not? After all it was the Minnesota-based Organic Consumers Association and its California allies who take credit for the anti-biotech movement in Mendocino and California. It seems to be one and the same movement.Organic pot growers have an ally. It is assistant Mendocino County ag commissioner Tony Linegar. In an Associated Press article about Linegarís boss, ag commissioner Dave Bengston, writing to the California Department of Food and Agriculture asking if the county can certify pot as organic, Linegar was quoted as saying wine grapes and pears are regulated; why not pot.Tony may claim another first; the first assistant ag commissioner who will need to carry a gun. Better be packing Tony if you go certifying organic pot.My first trip to the county many years ago was to interview a Mendocino County wine grape grower in the mountains above Boonville.I have been to many farms over the past 30 years, and farmers give detailed directions to their places. However, the directions I received to the Mendocino mountain vineyard were very, very, very specific, right down the color of the gate; material it was made of; how it was locked; signage and even curvature of the short driveway to the gate. Why?Drive down the wrong road or pass through the wrong gate in the Mendocino County mountains, and you could find yourself feeling like the Clantons and McLaurys facing the Earp Brothers and Doc Holiday at the OK Corral. Mendocino County is marijuana-growing country, and you donít go traipsing about uninvited.Mendocinoís anti-societal crowd is proud of its tenacity to keep dastardly biotech crops out of the county. They want to show the same grit and be first to let pot smokers know they can buy certified, regulated, pesticide-free marijuana from the same county.If the county receives CDFA go ahead to regulate organic medical marijuana, it would be "absolutely a first" said Allen St. Pierre in the same AP article. St. Pierre is from the Washington, D.C.-based National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. If CDFA approves organic certification for marijuana production, the department should be the first state department to be disbanded for a lack of intelligence.Talk about a dubious first. I am sure all Mendocino County residents and chambers of commerce would quickly rewrite their visitor brochures to proclaim the county not only the first to ban biotech crops, but the first to certify organic marijuana. What a selling point to lure families to vacation on Californiaís North Coast.I just returned from Canada where that nation is mourning the death of four Mounties killed in a marijuana raid. The local paper is filled each summer with stories of raids on National Forest marijuana plantations guarded by banditos with automatic weapons. Marijuana cultivation is illegal and run by organized crime.And now "medical" use marijuana growers in Mendocino County want the state of California to allow certification of organic pot?Mendocinoís fame as a source for great North Coast wine is being replaced with a reputation as a county of absurdities and irrationality.
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Comment #3 posted by Druid on March 28, 2005 at 09:03:20 PT
How to talk to children? How about a book?
www.itsjustaplant.comMMJ is not different than any of the other medicines that people have in thier medical arsenal above the bathroom sink....Why do people insist on treating it different?
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Comment #2 posted by Max Flowers on March 28, 2005 at 07:56:22 PT
Step up to the plate, Dad
"But what am I going to do when it comes time to talk to my son?" he asked.Try being honest...?! If you don't trust your son to value your words at that age over all else he hears, then you do indeed have a big problem. Take control, and the initiative, to teach your son what YOU know is right. I can't believe this guy would have to be told this. This is a good example of the severe disconnect that has taken place between generations, when a caring and conscientious father is afraid to tell his son the truth because of the conflicting social programming that is out there in the schools and such.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on March 27, 2005 at 18:21:47 PT
Related Article from
Patients, Doctors Unsure How To Enact Initiative
 March 27, 2005BILLINGS -- Months after Montana voters decided people with certain ailments should be allowed to smoke pot, questions of where to get medical marijuana and whether to endorse it abound.The 82 Montanans registered as qualified patients don't have access to merchants who can legally sell the drug. That leaves them to find it on their own through illegal means.Under current law, a doctor can't prescribe marijuana because it's still categorized as an illegal, Schedule One drug. The voter-approved statute allows a patient to get a physician's signature affirming that the patient suffers from one of the conditions listed under the statute, including cancer, glaucoma, AIDS and chronic diseases.The medical director at the Deering Clinic in Billings, Dr. Jim Guyer, says he doesn't plan to approve requests for medical marijuana until the details are clarified. He says the clinic receives some federal funding and prescribing medical marijuana could jeopardize that grant funding.The question of whether state or federal law has jurisdiction over the use of medical marijuana is currently before the Supreme Court of the United States.Copyright 2005 Associated Press
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