by lizard

I have been a recreational user of marijuana for about 16 years, and I’m 32, so that means half my life (thankfully I am still capable of doing rudimentary math). And from what I’ve read, it’s people like me who are to blame for this state’s out-of-control MM industry.

As the debate in Montana rages about the medicinal application of cannabis, it seems criminals like me are always drug through the mud by culture warriors who hate pot and all the cultural baggage it carries. They warn us the whole “medicinal” scheme is really just a smoke-screen for all us nefarious imbibers of the weed, so while there may be a few medically legitimate beneficiaries of this wonder plant, people like me make repeal a necessity.

I should acknowledge that speaking this frankly and publicly about my experience with an illegal substance is probably not a good idea, but I decided to write this post because there is a huge often unspeakable world of marijuana use in our current societal set-up that doesn’t get expressed precisely because of the continued war on a plant and those who use it. We are, after all, criminals.

But when the hype around the devil weed dissipates, what I see are the vast majority of people I know who have smoked pot at some point in their life no longer partaking with any regularity, for a variety of reasons. Maybe they don’t like the paranoia that too often accompanies being stoned, rendering them useless at social gatherings. Or maybe they have jobs where usage is a dangerous liability. For whatever reason, most of the people I know who once dabbled with pot, no longer do. And I suspect other folks might say the same about their circle of friends.

Inevitably the culture warriors who are the most rabidly opposed to any erosion of our federal status-quo marijuana prohibition shriek and gnash their teeth about the dangerous sway this evil substance has over the youth. And that’s a hard position to argue against, so that’s not what I’m going to try to do.

What I would like to do is put marijuana use into the broader context of the wide array of both legal and illegal substances available to tweens and young adults, making their substance use a much broader conversation that should include other dangerous things, like alcohol, pills, and texting.

But doesn’t that conversation distract from what we, the supposed adults, are trying to reconcile right now with medicinal marijuana reform?

The main reason the nullifiers are so adamant about repeal is because they know the message of state-sanctioned medicinal use of marijuana will further undermine what wicked forces like Hollywood have already undermined with movies like Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle.

Maybe some part of them knows prohibition is a joke, yet the thought that any legitimate profit is made from the actual sale of actual marijuana drives them crazy.

But at the end of the day I would have to say this is a cultural/generational war, and the collateral damage are the people who really do, for medical reasons, need access.

Meanwhile, I’m still a criminal for feeding cash to the tendrils of a black market that will exist no matter what the culture warriors decree in Helena.

  1. Great post – thank you for your candid words.

    We walk together on that path.

    Came to share my lil discovery today……

    Enjoy – and do with it as you will

  2. Melinda Gopher

    Wow! That’s honest. I don’t like marijuana, and really I do not approve of it, or people that use it. That is my personal opinion. I am a person that lives entirely free from substances, with the exception of my morning coffee. I am a prude, and I admit that I am.

    I am also all for legalizing marijuana, making me a very unlikely supporter of legalization. In this day and age of budget crises on multiple levels, having people sitting in jail for marijuana possession is just crazy. Legalize it and let’s save a buck, that money could be better used elsewhere besides incarceration. Thank you for your honesty.

    • Philip Dieter

      So you live with out any medictions, drug free. There will be a time in your life when thing start comming apart. Age will catch up to you. What would it be like living pain free and being able to judge other people by the mediction thay take. I have glaucoma and don’t like the idea of going blind. You on the other hand you probably let your eye sight go as you are not willing to take drugs to help you keep your sight.

      • That was pretty harsh – especially when she went on to say that she supports decriminalization of Marijuana. I applaud her desire to live substance free, even if it is not an option for me (Severly ADHD and having a rare form of meningitus). I hope she lives a long and happy life free of substances. I only wish I could do the same. My hat’s off to you, Melinda.

      • Robert Randall was the FIRST ever FEDERAL Medical Cannabis Patient. He got his Medical Cannabis from the Federal Government as it was the ONLY thing that saved his sight! The Glaucoma drugs did NOT work for him – at all. to read about Bob. You can also Google Bob Randall and Medical Marijuana – there are stories and You Tube videos.

        Cannabis has been documented to treat Glaucoma for over 50 years now……

  3. mr benson

    Well, that explains a lot. Just stop. It’s not doing you any good. You’ve been smoking pot for 16 years and aren’t addicted yet, right?

    Prove it.

    And yes, I support legalization, and the elimination of mandatory minimums for drug convictions, for the same reason; we should be defending our borders against illegal immigrants and terrorists and putting our money towards investing in the intelligent, creative and hard working, and not trying to catch the stoned and stupid in some idiotic “war on drugs”.

    So stop it. Prove to me I’m wrong in saying you’re addicted.

    • lizard19

      Well, that explains a lot.

      what exactly do you think my recreational use of marijuana explains? are you trying to insinuate i think and write what i do because of my use of marijuana? if that makes it easier for you to write me off, so be it.

      i will say, as a teenager experimenting with drugs, my experience didn’t jive with what the figures of authority were telling me, and that led me to thinking that if they were full of shit about the dangers of pot, maybe they were full of shit about other things as well, so that did lead me to be suspicious of authority figures. and rightly so, i might add.

      • mr benson

        Touched a nerve, there, I see. I only get half the number of points though that I would arguing with JH, though.

        One of the biggest problems with the anti marijuana hysteria is just as you describe, and something to which I have referred many times.

        Stupid laws. unenforceable laws, teach disrespect for the law. Stupid claims against pot teach people to ignore much more accurate warnings against other drugs. In that way, the “gateway” part of the anti marijuana argument is a self fulfilling prophecy.

        While I might be writing off your stoned communist writings, I would not have dared you to quit had I written you off as a person.

        • lizard19

          stoned communist writing? that’s cute.

          anyway, thanks for the concern, but it’s misplaced.

          • Barking Skwerl

            Mr Benson has a cabinet full of liquor no doubt.

            • mr benson

              Barking Skwerl

              March 27, 2011 at 10:13 pm

              “Mr Benson has a cabinet full of liquor no doubt”

              You have no way of knowing or reaching that conclusion logically. Therefore, your statement displays your willingness to display your ignorance and stupidity.

              • lizard19

                but before you became a man, back when you still did childish things, you smoked pot recreationally, right?

  4. Mr Benson – I would challenge YOU to prove addiction! Do you see crazed maniacs?

    Come hang out with ME. I have been a MT Medical Cannabis patient for 2 years – I use an ounce a week. I have NEVER experienced addiction with Cannabis. It is ALL I use for pain and muscle spasticity.

    Now – opioid painkillers – THAT is another issue – and HIGHLY addictive. Should I be popping Percocets every 2 hours? Would that make YOU feel better to see me eating chemicals and developing an addiction?

    I have NEVER experienced ONE withdrawal symptom from Cannabis – EVER. I HAVE however experienced it with Opioids – and their drug hangover.

    So Mr. Benson – YOU prove it. The burden is on YOU. Back your ass up.

    • mr benson

      Your implication that you have to be a crazed maniac to be addicted is idiotic. Of course not. Millions are addicted to nicotine and aren’t “crazed maniacs”. Sounds like YOU bought off on the “reefer madness” scenario.

      And, if you’ve not given up using dope, how do you know there aren’t withdrawal symptoms?

      I think you may have just proved the opponents of medical marijuana’s case. I hope you’re not arguing my side, ever.

      • Mr. Benson,

        Though you have on many occations expressed a logical argument on many and varied topics, on this one, you are, in fact, being irrational. There is no (zero, zip, nada) evidence to support that marijuana is addictive. Not one single study conducted by a reputable lab has determined that marijuana is addictive. While many disagree on what damage (if any) marijuana does to the human system, none of them has ever proven MJ to be addictive.

        I feel for you, though. I had this same argument with none other than Dave Budge shortly after I returned to Montana. I was taught that MJ was highly addictive, horribly damaging to the body and even worse than other street drugs in my youth. Bolstering this training was my own deathly allergy to the substance. I WANTED to believe that MJ was the devil’s weed.

        Unfortunately for me (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), I got into a week long argument with Dave Budge over the subject. It was during one of the first attempts I saw made to decriminalize MJ in Montana and I was rabidly for stopping that movement. Further, I RARELY agree with Dave and often tweek his nose just because I can.

        On this issue, I was DEAD wrong. He sent me a list of the studies done on MJ in the last decade – at least the studies done in reputable labs like Duke University, the University of Southern California, John’s Hopkins, etc. I was amazed. While the results varied on what those labs listed as possible harmful effects to the body, not one of those labs was able to verify addiction. NOT ONE.

        What you advocate (that marijuana is addictive) has no medical basis what so ever. Please list just one reputable study done in the last decade that proves marijuana is addictive.. just one.

        • mr benson

          Yeah, he’s been smoking it for sixteen years, and isn’t addicted yet. I’ve heard similar statements many times.

          Marijuana has substantive physical effects and is psychologically and physically addictive. I don’t need a weather man to tell me which way the wind blows, and I don’t need any study to tell me of the physical and mental affects of constant long term marijuana use, or the physical effects of quitting its use.

          If people can be addicted to food, or addicted to sex, they can damn sure be addicted to marijuana.

          • In other words, you have no substansive proof other than “your belief” that Marijuana is addictive and has substanstive physical effects. Sorry if I prefer to rely on actual scientific study instead of your belief. I have known marijuana smokers that fit the stereotype each and every one of them got that way by doing other drugs. Even my own, personal experience with those that have smoked MJ does not fit your belief. I guess we will have to agree to disagree.

            • mr benson

              It’s not a “belief”.

            • mr benson

              “If you can’t link to an expert, you must be wrong” can be a great internet argument, unless you get called out on it.

              The whole “link?” thing is so…trite. There doesn’t have to be a study on the internet for something to be factual. Do I need a link to the study about the sky being yellow or the sun being blue?

              Using psychoactive recreational drugs for half one’s lifetime is addictive behavior; “I’ve used it half my life and I’m still not addicted” is testament to a loss of self awareness typical in addicts.

              We can certainly agree to disagree.

              • Simply because a person has an addictive behavior, that does not mean that whatever that person is addicted to is the issue. MJ is not addictive. Period. There are addictive people who might have chosen MJ as their addiction, but it wasn’t because MJ is addictive. Sex, water, as you said “anything” can be addictive (in that respect). That is like blaming the gun for the person using it to shoot someone. For a reasonable intellegent person, this seems like a reasonable silly argument. But, as you agreed, we can agree to disagree.

          • lizard19

            i feel compelled to chime in, since this is my alleged addiction that’s being discussed.

            during the past 16 years, there have been plenty of “dry” periods. phsyiologically, i have never experienced any withdrawal symptoms.

            the only thing that comes close is mood issues, meaning a slight increase in irritability, less patience for stupidity, etc.

            withdrawing from caffeine is much worse.

            now psychologially, i think there are definitely some dependency issues that possibly develop with habitual users. marijuana can be a crutch that people start to rely on in order to function in this screwed up world. but put in the context of all the other legal/illegal substances people use to cope with their lives, marijuana is probably the least harmful.

            • It’s just silly to argue that doing something for 16 years makes it addictive. Replace ‘smoking’ with any other non-productive activity. I’ve been playing video games for ten years and I haven’t stopped, and I have no intention of so doing. Should I sue the game companies because they addicted me to their product, or should I thank them because they made a product good enough that I intend to continue enjoying it?

              Habit forming is another thing entirely. Plenty of people form habits of smoking daily that affect their lives, but most of them can quite without any negative effects, if they find something better to do.

  5. Well lizard, I say live and let live, but even though you don’t go around fried all day, every day, the money you’ve spent on dope all these years has been funneled to criminal enterprises, and goes all the way back to somebody shooting somebody else that they caught in their field.

    I imagine that when the voters passed it, that you ran right in, told them you have chronic pain, and were sold a card.

    And after the news came out about the raids by the feds, it is crystal clear that the criminality STILL swirls around weed.

    I’m one of those that voted for it.

    I had visions of actually sick people, with glaucoma or other problems that could really benefit from it.

    Not every wannabe stoner ( not you I’m giving you the benefit of doubt, because I actually read what you post) to go buy a card and run around fried 24/7/365.

    • mr benson

      Eric, not a single indictment has been filed or prosecuted due to the raids, that I’m aware of. Since there have been no criminal charges, your point about “criminality still swirling” is wrong.

    • Ben Nachman


      What you voted for does help sick people. And yes, there are people that have been using marijuana for most of their lives as an anti-depressant, mood enhancer, and other such benign reasons. These people got cards because, guess what, they’re tired of being oppressed by their government, and want to use the substance legally.

      For otherwise law-abiding citizens, it is a way to do this. This might be viewed as hypocritical, but I don’t think people are out to abuse the system. Instead, it’s an opportunity them to live not in fear of incarceration and shame.

      “Stoners” cook your food, pick up your garbage, handle your finances, and exist in every other facet of your life. It’s time that we stopped degrading people because of their use, in any capacity, of this drug.

      The Ultimate Hypocrisy, in fact, is that Oxy-Contin, and other such drugs are schedule 2, and Marijuana remains Schedule 1. Drugs that addict and kill people are less regulated and less feared than this plant is.

      Do some reading about the passing of Anti-Marijuana laws. You’ll see that special interest groups fought to get their way, and they did. Hemp and marijuana was made illegal, while alcohol, pharmaceuticals, and other textile industries flourished. It’s more about money and bigotry than it is about health and public safety.

      Finally, if the DEA had enough evidence to come in with guns drawn, freeze accounts, take personal property, etc., why did they not have enough evidence to make any arrests? If there are no arrests made then that is pure intimidation and robbery in my book. Would you accept it if government agencies did this to regular businesses is they were accused of not paying their taxes?

      End the Federal Hypocrisy on Marijuana.

      • all this nonsense about arguing whether it is addictive or not is silly because first of all, it is none of my damned business what an adult does whether it is addictive or not so long as the adult minds his own business and leaves me alone.

        also, if we are aguing that we should not let something be available for adults to choose then we should start with:
        junk food
        pharmaceutical drugs

        addictiveness is a weak argument.

    • lizard19

      no, i did not run out and get my card. i use it recreationally, not medically. my friend who died of cancer several years ago used it medically, to stimulate his appetite. i use it because i enjoy its effect.

  6. Ingemar Johansson

    “Doctrines of addiction recovery, such as the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous, actually attribute the cause of addiction to one’s genetic ancestors, and provide an inverted morality in which addicts are victims of their “dysfunctional” families rather than the obvious opposite, and one creates a god of his own sodden imagination rather than comes to believe in a traditional God which is a source of moral authority.”

    Are you a product of a Godless dysfunctional family?

    • lizard19

      nope, i am the product of a stable two parent christian family.

    • JC

      I don’t know where you’re getting your tripe to quote, but you should cite stuff like that, or we might think you’re just quoting your own “sodden imagination”. There is so much wrong in there.

      But it leads one to understand the underpinnings of your self-absorbed moral superiority that is based on nothing more than a perversion of medical practice and the field of addiction recovery.

    • mr benson

      I’m not the product of a “godless” family either. But when I became a man, I put away childish things. Yes, that included marijuana, and the Easter Bunny.

      • lizard19

        wow, you’ve given me much to ponder in such a short comment. a few questions: are you saying marijuana is a “childish thing”? does that mean you think only young people should partake in marijuana? and what signified you “becoming a man?” was it when you turned 18? is that when childish things like marijuana and the easter bunny should be put away?

        • Ingemar Johansson

          Fashback to Sunday School.

          “When I was a child I spoke as a child I understood as a child I thought as a child; but when I became a man I put away childish things.” I Cor. xiii. 11.

        • Native American hemp smokers were childish, you know. I’m so glad we helped them put away such childish things … and being so humane about it.

    • “Are you a product of a Godless dysfunctional family?”

      what if i am? what if i was raised as a cub by wolverines? what if i am an evangelical? what if i am agnostic? what if i am buddhist? what if i believe james joyce was the one true prophet? what if i believe in joseph smith? ……………………………………………………………

      swede- mind your own business, beliefs and worry about your own family and i will do the same.

      i have no interest in what you do. by what right do you claim to have any interest in what others do?

      it is the first law of the code of the west.

      you right wing extremists need to figure out a way to get a life and mind your own god-damned business

      • mr benson

        I’ll tell you a couple of reasons “why it matters”. If you’re irrational on one subject, you’re likely irrational on others.

        • Ingemar Johansson

          Maybe pb fits the mold.

          • wishful thinking swede. you and the rest of the far right embarrass yourselves. i just point a flashlight at it.

            i am grateful for your commentary every day. when i am striving for new ways to discredit the bankrupt morality and hypocritical values of the tea party you provide me with the best material possible.

            thanks swede. and please keep it coming.

  7. I wrote about the ‘compromise’ bill at ID last night – it is only slightly better than the repeal bill.

    I guess my only real problem with weed is exactly what lizard noted – most people use it towards the beginning of their lives. That’s fine for people like lizard, who I imagine functions just fine under the influence. But for other people, especially high school students who have just started, it makes them downright useless for hours at a time, and can be quite habit forming.

    Which is where I think honesty needs to come in on the part of the schools – rather than scare tactics about ‘you WILL become addicted and it WILL make you stupid’, they should be honest – some people smoke every day and are no worse for it, just like some people drink every day and still function just fine. But other people really do lose quite a bit of cognitive function when they are high, and really do have difficulty giving it up. Teenagers are naturally rebellious, and when you’ve told them one lie they are unlikely to listen to the truth afterwords, so our discredited propaganda that marijuana is physically addictive causes many students to disbelieve that it can be habit-forming at all, even when the evidence is right in front of them. Which is why I think schools should focus on intervening when a student’s life really is being affected by drug use, rather than punishing any student caught using.

    And my other problem is this – that money CAN go to very violent people, farther away than you’ll notice. But again, it doesn’t have to. How much violence could be prevented at the border if everyone actually knew where their weed came from and bought locally? Most users of marijuana are if anything more liberal and conscientious than average, so I imagine given a choice they would choose to use locally grown product. However, the illegality of it means that customers choices are restricted in a way they aren’t with legal products.

    • JC

      I think honesty needs to come in on the part of the schools – rather than scare tactics

      How novel–a plea for fact-based education! Good luck with our current crop of fact-challenged legislators.

      other people really do lose quite a bit of cognitive function when they are high,

      Maybe that’s what they want. Just like people who drink to forget, or not feel the pain…

      schools should focus on intervening when a student’s life really is being affected by drug use, rather than punishing any student caught using

      Here, Here!

      that money CAN go to very violent people, farther away than you’ll notice

      You talking about the U.S.military, and its cohort mercenaries? Cuz if you are, then I agree. Of course there’s a bunch of other ways the U.S. government takes (or allows) drug money to get funneled to nefarious purposes. Iran/Contra. Afghani freedom fighters in the 70’s/80’s, unrestricted firearm sales to Mexican cartels and mules… need I go on?

      Most users of marijuana are if anything more liberal and conscientious than average

      Besides being a potentially fact-lacking statement with a glaring causality issue, what makes you think that this isn’t the exact issue why the right is doing what it is doing? Just more hippy bashing. Though many of those hippies grew up and became righteous yuppies (and legislators).

      • “How novel–a plea for fact-based education! Good luck with our current crop of fact-challenged legislators.”

        Don’t I know it. And it’s not just legislators – between Helena’s sex-ed hoopla and challenging Sherman Alexie, I think that a very loud portion of the public is not totally on board with teaching facts to students.

        As far as people losing cognitive function – if that’s what they are going for, do it on the weekends. The only time I have a problem with it is when kids are in the classroom completely unable to process information. And those kids can get high every day at lunch but the internet told them weed isn’t addictive, so they don’t see any problem with doing it every day. Being drunk at school is worse (because then kids are more likely to disrupt others), but also less common, because it’s bulkier and harder to do at lunch.

        But still worse is getting suspended for doing drugs at school – while the experience of getting caught can be the impetus for a young person to quit or cut back, the punitive nature of the punishment can interfere with their education, as well as breeding an adversarial environment between them and the administrators.

        I don’t know what your point about drug money is, except to emphasize mine – drug money goes bad places if you’re not careful with it. My last statement may have lacked evidence, but I don’t think it’s untrue – most weed users don’t want their money killing people, so in a more open market, locally grown products would be at a competitive advantage, and violent actors would earn less money from it.

  8. and here i thought the code of the west was to mind your own business.

    if an adult wants to use MJ for any reason, i consider it none of my business. whether i approve of it or not has no bearing. each adult individual should be able to make their own decision if we want to call this the land of the free………….

    otherwise let’s just call it the land of the highly regulated for your own good……..

    alcohol is far worse, and the history books tell us that prohibition of anything simply increases profits for the criminals.

    it is only common sense to provide the exact same regulation for MJ as we have for tobacco and alcoholic beverages. stop the frigging madness already people…..

    and mind your own damn business.

  9. As I said over at ID last night, I have a lot of issues with these raids and the “compromise” bill. Unlike Lizard, I have never been, nor will I ever be a recreational (or medical) user of MJ. In fact, I am anaphylactically illergic to it. That said, I see this “War against Pot Users” as silly, expensive, and useless much like the Prohibition against Alcohol.

    It was my understanding that there were arrests in the recent raids though I have not heard of any indictments being handed down. Either way, it is no different than when the ATF came into Dillon and shut down the firearm manufacturer. Even though no charges were ever actually filed against him, he lost all of his tool, machinery and even his private firearms and even though he has successfully sued twice now, they have yet to be returned to him. This was a power play (an effective one from the looks of it) by Federal Agencies against a legally established business in Montana. Regardless of how you feel about medical marijuana, EVERY Montanan should be up in arms about that.

    The Compromise is also indicative of politics over logic. What Montana Regulations have been passed to limit Alcohol, Ritalin, Adderal, OxyCotan, Percacet, etc to cost only? What other “drug” ANYWHERE is only allowed to be manufactured at cost? EVERY conservative in the US should be screaming from the highest building in Montana about the State Government interfering with business in this fashion. Either make it illegal (stupid) or legalize at least medical marijuana and regulate it like alcohol. End of problem. Think of the state revenue that could be made if they regulated marijuana like Alcohol…

    • mr benson

      You are pretty close, Moorcat, although you missed the connection between the legislators, on both sides of the aisle, and the DEA, in timing the raids and the legislation.

      The feds intervened in Montana more kindly than they have in Libya, but still, it was the non transparent kind of government that Montanans should reject utterly.

      The same people for “nullification” were all puffed up in their foreknowledge of the DEA raids.

  10. lizard19

    over at the Missoulian, the story reads Kids’ Use Of Medical Marijuana Stirs Debate Over Future In Montana

    here’s a snip:

    “The No. 1 goal is to reduce access and availability to the young people of this state that are being sent an incorrect message that this is an acceptable product for them to be using,” Sen. Jeff Essmann, R-Billings, said recently in arguing for repeal of Montana’s medical marijuana law by the 2011 Legislature.

    it’s so frustrating to see this is where the conversation has gone—derailed from the conversation about regulation reform to crash into the hot button issue of kids and their access to weed.

    the key to that little quote from Jeff Essmann is how he links access and availability to the state sending an “incorrect message” that cannabis has acceptable positive medicinal uses.

    then there’s this, from a youth court probation officer:

    Glen Welch, a Missoula County Youth Court probation officer, worries about it a lot.

    “Kids who smoke marijuana damage their brains,” he said. “Just because you have a card doesn’t mean you don’t damage your brain.”

    Welch wants to be clear that he’s not against the medical use of marijuana, and that he’s not naive about the fact that kids smoked dope long before its therapeutic use was legalized.

    But he said that legalization – especially the free-form Montana variety – “has opened up a can of worms” by making marijuana use socially acceptable.

    marijuana use is already socially acceptable. that’s why a majority of voters have voted the way they have.

    and to counter the social acceptance of marijuana, our hypocrite state legislators who favor repeal must conflate drug use among our youth in an obvious attempt to scare parents into supporting a repeal that would be financially disastrous and socially cruel to the folks with legitimate medical need.

  11. You have been honest and forthcoming in your comments Lizard. I respect that even though I have issues on some of your positions.

    Since most of the discussion and heated accusations on both sides of the aisle have concentrated on the “medical” aspect of the marijuana issue here are two questitons for you:

    #1. Do you think that the majority of the public who voted for the medical marijuana initiative would have supported it if they knew it would grow to 28,000+ and rapidly climbing MM card holders and allow anyone 18 and older to easily obtain a MM card by claiming something as easy as “stress” or “chronic pain” with no verification as medical conditions?

    #2. Would you support a legislative bill that put in place regulations and oversite to restrict legalized MM usage to only those people who had severe verifiable medical conditions knowing that it may shrink the authorized pool of MM card holders to less than 5,000?

    • Actually I have carefully stayed away from the “medical” part of the debate (other than to point out that the Montana Legislature is treating this “treatment drug” differently than any other treatment drug) but I can easily answer at least one of your questions…

      #1 I can’t answer the question for anyone else but I can certainly answer it for me.. Hell yes, I would have voted for it. In my opinion, MJ should be legalized, taxed and regulated the same way Alcohol and Tobacco are. First, it makes more sense than this senseless “war on drugs”. Second, not even the experts can agree on the “debilitating effects” of MJ, nor can they agree on the addiction factor of MJ. Since it appears to be less addictive and damaging than either Alcohol or Tobacco (most of the studies done in the last decade at least seem to agree on that point though they tend to disagree about everything else…), I don’t see the issue with decriminalizing it. More importantly, if Prohibition taught us anything, it was that you create a criminal enterprize by prohibiting something, you do not stop people from partaking. Given the comments coming even from right leaning sites, I would venture to say that it probably would have passed anyway.

      #2 First, I have an issue with your assertion that the number of card holders would be less than 5K. How did you reach that number? Second, it is difficult enough for the medical field to identify, localize, quantify and diagnose chronic pain. When I was first being tested, poked, prodded and questioned by medical personnel about my migraines, quite a few of them either A) couldn’t identify the reason for the headaches (even though the answer was staring them in the face) or B) disbelieved I was in pain. Now that the issue has been identified, it isn’t hard to get a medical professional to understand the pain I suffer from these headaches (I have a rare form of chronic viral menengitus). Setting some arbitrary “guidelines” for the perscription of Medical MJ is silly – especially given that legislators are NOT doctors. Further, regardless of what guidelines are set, there will be abuse.. just like there is for Ritalin, Adderal, Percocet and Oxycotan.

      This issue is contentious because we have all grown up under the “Pot is bad” society view given to us by those in power. Some (like lizard) have chosen to ignore it but it is still there, whether they want to admit it or not. As long as this perception exists, the debate will rage and little to nothing will be accomplished.

      I tend to take my viewpoint from a baser level.. that of money. It is cheaper, more effecient and certainly more attractive to me to regulate and tax MJ sales and use than it is to criminalize it. While I have sympathy for those that use the drug as a medicine (one of my mother’s best friends used it for pain relief while she was suffering from cancer), the whole argument is much simpler for me if I can just look at it from a revenue VS cost aspect.

    • lizard19

      the rapid increase of card holders in the past 3 years is certainly a problem, and i’m sure there are some former supporters that are now turned off by how that growth has happened, thinking to themselves, this is not what i voted for.

      but when it comes to influencing people’s opinions, i still think the media, most notably the Missoulian, has had a significant effect by negatively framing this issue. their obsession over Jason Christ, who himself has been a major disaster for medical marijuana, has been extremely sensationalist. it makes me wonder if honestly reporting on this issue is more important than stoking controversy.

      allowing people under 18 to get a card is also extremely problematic, but part of the problem is too many people simply can’t unload the cultural baggage in order to see this substance as medicine. in the article i linked to, they talked to a father who gave his 2 year old son a few drops of a tincture. the kid had a brain tumor and was going through chemo. if this medicine seemed like a better alternative than narcotic pain killers, then i hope parents will retain the ability to consider ALL their options when it comes to treating tough medical cases.

      to answer your second question, probably not. i would be curious to know what constitutes “severe”? i think the cardholders who use marijuana to manage pain will probably face some sort of increased scrutiny, because that seems to be the condition that has justified the spike in cardholders. and while i understand that extra scrutiny may be necessary to keep medicinal marijuana legally viable, i think the addictive nature of narcotic pain killers is much more dangerous, so anything that provides a less dangerous alternative is something i would emphatically support.

  12. Well, liz; i am 60, retired with assets in the mid six figures, and have been a daily cannabis smoker since i was 16. i grow my own, my lungs are clear, my partner and i walk four miles every day.

    Two retina operations and two cataract surgeries would have spiked my intraocular pressure to dangerous levels, but regular cannabis therapy precluded a prescription for Azopt or Xalatan, the obscenely expensive ($100/wk alternatives.

  13. petetalbot

    Having grown up in the Sixties when you could get life in prison for handing a person a joint (Texas) I would never mention any personal marijuana use in a public forum. So, lizard, a bold move, IMHO.

    On the other hand, I just looked at our site stats and a lot of folks have been searching the ‘about lizard’ page. I’m sure it’s innocuous but just the same, watch your ass. The feds seem to enjoy kicking in doors in Montana these days. (That goes for you, too, Larry — be careful.)

  14. Paranoia strikes deep pete. I’ve never used it but friends who do tell me less than one ounce is not really much of a worry anymore.

    • petetalbot

      That’s true, pb. I’m not much on paranoia or conspiracy theories — just trying to make an illustrative point. And lizard does headline this post “Criminal,” with some justification.

  15. CharleyCarp

    You know, other than anecdotes, which seem to come from people with an axe the grind, I have no reason to think that there aren’t 28,000 people with genuine qualifications. How many people in MT are on prescription painkillers, for example? I don’t know. Certainly the recent uptick is the direct result of the federal enforcement moratorium: and why wouldn’t even people with qualifying conditions have been leery of committing federal crimes before the moratorium.

    • big pharma has been a big supporter of obama and our own senator max baucus for their help in making sure that americans continue to pay far more for pharmaceuticals than the rest of the world and i am sure if pfizer held the patent to cannabis, we would all be inundated with commercials for it during every nightly news broadcast by now.

      but since they don’t hold the patent i suppose it is just a coincidence federal agents timed a raid during a legislative session which will eventually determine the fate of medical cannabis in montana simply because mj threatens to cut into big pharmas lucrative painkiller monopoly.

    • Well Charley, I know far more people who have green cards for recreational use than who have it ‘legitimately’ – though that is probably due to my demographics. But I do agree – setting an arbitrary goal (it seems to be 2,000 based on what legislators are saying now) for the number of cards we want is a bad methodology. Assuming that 90% of cards are not deserved is quite the assumption.

  16. Pogo Possum

    You just captured “the” key phrase that sums up what many people who voted for the medical marijuana initiative say every day Lizard…….”This is not what I voted for.”

    There are two issues here:

    “Medical” Marijuana for people who genuinely need it and
    Legalization of Marijuana

    People who persist in mixing these two issues during this legislative session are doing a grave disservice to the adults and children who truly need medical marijuana as a medical treatment.

    Everytime someone does, more and more voters say to themselves and others: “This is not what I voted for.”

    • lizard19

      and if you asked people why they now question their vote, how many do you think would say it’s because of all the bad stories they see in the news?

      listen, no one discussing this issue seems capable of keeping themselves dedicated to just having a rational discussion of regulating medicinal marijuana use, and the reason is because decades of baggage are being unloaded as this issue gets chewed up and spit out in Helena.

      throw kids into the mix, and that hard-wired imperative to protect kicks in. i have to admit, reading the Missoulian story, the second i read that a 2 1/2 year old kid was a “cardholder” part of me recoiled. but then i read on, and it’s clear there are refined methods of using marijuana as medicine that have been developed and need to be protected. i mean, the toddler wasn’t taking bonghits.

      the cultural baggage is the quicksand that’s sucking this conversation down the drain (hows that for a mixed metaphor?).

      but for our legislators trying to push through repeal, they fall into two categories:

      either they have, at some point in their lives, experimented with marijuana, and their lives were not destroyed, making them hypocrites for snubbing reform in favor of repeal, or

      they have never experimented with marijuana, and are therefore trying to knee-jerk legislate something they have no fucking clue about.

      • “listen, no one discussing this issue seems capable of keeping themselves dedicated to just having a rational discussion of regulating medicinal marijuana use, and the reason is because decades of baggage are being unloaded as this issue gets chewed up and spit out in Helena”

        What is truly sad about you saying this is that many commenting here have not only proven capable of rationally discussing this issue, many – myself included – have mentioned this issue of baggage. Thank you for your attempt to invalidate the people who actually have supported you – whether they agree with recreational use or not.

        • lizard19

          i’m not saying that to “invalidate” anything. the baggage is simply an inescapable part of this conversation.

          • I think the ‘baggage’ also works counter-culturally as well. Kids in school are lied to for years about marijuana, told that only bad kids do it, and then we’re surprised when they do. And while in lizards case this just contributed to a skeptical attitude about the establishment, for many it makes them also doubt what they are told about other drugs, and other laws. Kids aren’t dumb, and they are quick to punish dishonesty. Lie to them once and most of them will doubt every other thing you say to them. Like Moorcat and Lizard have noted, the ‘gateway drug’ thing is a self-fulfilling prophecy, and I wonder if it affects kids’ perceptions of everything else they are taught in health class.

  17. Pogo Possum

    There is no other way to say this to you , Lizard, than to simply say respectfully……”you still don’t get it.”

    And you won’t because you want to blame someone else for folks being upset because they didn’t vote to have 20,000+ people pretending to need “medical” marijuana.

    The newspapers didn’t make up the growing number of users or the growing number of MM shops. Those are cold hard facts and many people don’t like it.

    They are reminded of it everyday they drive around their towns and see MM shops (many of them looking pretty tacky) poping up like dandilions in spring time. They are reminded of it everytime they see one of their recreational user friends who now carriy a MM card. They don’t need to look in the papers or even listen to the nighly news, Lizard, they see it everyday for themselves first hand.

    Many people believe the MM Initiative was a good idea that was taken advantage of by users like you who want to subvert the original intent of a good initiative to facilitate recreational use.

    Medical Marijuana and wholesale legalization are two separate issues. The more you combine them, the more some previous supporters of MM feel they were/are lied to. If you think it is just some knee jerk legislators that feel this way then you aren’t paying attention.

    They include people who have used in the past and people who have never used. They are not hypocrits. They are simply people who now believe for many reasons that “This is not what I voted for.”

    • lizard19

      if the people you are talking about, who know folks directly that are taking advantage of medicinal cannabis, think repeal is the answer, then yes, i don’t get it. repeal would be disastrous.

    • CharleyCarp

      “That’s not what I voted for.”

      Isn’t this really the most easily solved problem of all: if you limit caregivers to a maximum of two patients with no inter caregiver transactions, you end the profit to be made from renting space (retail or greenhouse), running ads in the Indy, etc etc. And grandma still gets her reefer from the friend who’s willing to grow a couple of plants.

    • Pogo – while you make a good point, that people don’t need to read in the paper to get frustrated by seeing pot stores all over town and watching their healthy friends toke up outside of bars, you overstep when you say ‘people like you’. Lizard already stated that he still gets his weed the old fashioned way, and does not have a MM card. So he is not the problem here.

      And if you don’t get it, liz, it’s because you’re too clear thinking. I have to admit when I see healthy people legally getting high, or former drug dealers now legitimately making a lot of money, my first reaction is knee-jerk – they ought to be punished, they shouldn’t be allowed to do that, etc. After a couple seconds I remember all the good reasons of the type you’ve brought up that repeal would be a disaster. But for people who don’t think a lot about politics, they don’t get beyond the knee-jerk. It’s not hypocrisy, it’s mental priorities, and politics are not at he top of their lists of things worth thinking extensively about.

      What I love about blogs, coincidentally, is that, if you have a fairly open comment policy and a fairly open mind, other people can force you to get beyond that shallow level of thinking and into the area where you make better decisions.

      • JC

        “if you have a fairly open comment policy and a fairly open mind, other people can force you to get beyond that shallow level of thinking and into the area where you make better decisions.”

        Really? Work for you too? ;-)

        • I think it does; have you found any of my blog postings to seem unthinking? They are all much better researched than they would be if I didn’t have to worry about commentators challenging them.

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