Medical Marijuana Business, Laws Need Many Changes

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Ganjarden

Nug of the Month: Aug 2008
Folks testifying before a legislative health committee earlier this week used words like "tweak" and "fine tune" to describe what's needed in the developing world of medical marijuana use in Montana.

Those are understatements.

At the hearing Tuesday, a good description of what's needed to clear up the confusion that has emerged surrounding medical marijuana in the six years since voters approved medicinal use of the weed by a 62-38 vote came from the chief architect of that initiative, Tom Daubert.

The law needs plenty of legislative "sideboards," he said, to fix or control the problems that have emerged parallel to legalization of marijuana for medicinal use.

We'd go further to say Montana needs not only those relatively simple supporting and clarifying laws, but also some more common sense on the part of medical marijuana patients and caregivers.

Action, then, is required on two fields of battle:

# Legislatively, substantial guidance isnecessary, clarifying everything from how cities can regulate the marijuana businesses that have sprung up around the state to how schools, health facilities, employers and public facilities cope with legal users of the palliative material.

Lawmakers should be able to sort this part of the situation out.

All sorts of law-enforcement issues have emerged along with the pot-providing businesses, most significant of which is the fact that the cops don't know – by law – which marijuana growers/providers are authorized to do it.

Law enforcement officials are obligated to investigate any reports of illicit drug activity. Not knowing where the licit growers and sellers are, law enforcers' investigations are certain to result in some difficult situations. They already have.

Similarly, problems are emerging with general regulation of the legal use of what has been, for decades, a federal "Schedule 1" illegal drug.

Driving under the influence, working under the influence – even anti-smoking regulations – are cast in a new light by the coexistence of laws narrowly legalizing a substance that is otherwise illegal.

On the patient level, help also is needed.

Considering the present coexistence of legal and illegal marijuana, it's hard to imagine why someone who is legally and genuinely helped by the drug wouldn't voluntarily reveal him- or herself to law enforcement officials in order to avoid the possibility of problems down the road.

For example, it's easy to imagine the resident of a neighboring apartment calling 9-1-1 to report use or cultivation of pot next door, and if the police don't know whether the person who lives there is acting legitimately, they have to investigate.

Again, at present police have no way, other than asking to see suspects' legitimizing "green cards," to determine quickly whether the suspects are criminals or medical patients.

If a patient's usage is legitimate, though, why wouldn't that patient let the authorities know about it in advance? And why on earth wouldn't the patient keep the card accessible whenever in the presence of the medicinal plants?

This problem suggests creation of a police registry of some sort – not public, because of the risks involved in revealing the nature and location of such operations – in order to spare police and patients the difficulties of needless investigations.

Finally, why wouldn't legitimate patients and providers take extreme steps to keep their supplies secure and not flaunt them?

Illegal drug users frequently go to great lengths to get their hands on drugs – burglary, robbery and even murder.

The phenomenon of medical marijuana use is new and apparently growing fast.

The way we all – citizens, employers, organizations and law enforcement – deal with it is sure to evolve as problems such as those mentioned here emerge.

In the meantime, patients and caregivers need to behave responsibly and, to law enforcement at least, transparently.


NewsHawk: Ganjarden: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: Great Falls Tribune
Contact: Great Falls Tribune
Copyright: 2010 Great Falls Tribune
Website: Medical marijuana business, laws need many changes