August 25th, 2016
HELENA – Medical marijuana patients made a plea to Attorney General Tim Fox to delay new restrictions that will leave more than 12,000 patients without access to their medicine, delivering a “Stand with Bob Ream” petition signed by more than 1,000 Montanans.
“You never leave a fellow Marine behind, but that’s exactly what we’re doing if we allow these new restrictions to go into effect,” said Tayln Lang, a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and medical marijuana patient.
Restrictions contained in SB 423, a bill passed by the Montana Legislature in 2011, are set to go into effect on August 31 following an April decision by the Montana Supreme Court. In July, former State Representative Bob Ream sent a letter to the Attorney General urging him to support delayed enforcement of the restrictions, which include limiting medical marijuana providers to just three patients. Bob Ream was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and is using medical marijuana to help him sleep.
“I refuse to leave Bob, or any other Montana medical marijuana patient, behind,” said Lang. “We are here to deliver signatures of Montanans that know patients deserve access to their medicine until we can once again vote on this issue in November.”
Patients will go without safe and legal access to their medicine starting next week due to the implementation of SB 423. For many patients, the thought of being without their medicine is frightening and unthinkable.
“I was 16 years old when I became a registered medical marijuana card holder and was the first in the state under the age of 18,” said Katie Wetch, a Billings woman suffering from Arnold Chiari Malformation and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.
Wetch has undergone multiple surgeries and now lives with two rods that attach to her skull to lift her head off of her brain stem. She lives with pain every day that she treats with medical marijuana rather than opiate pain killers.
“Medical marijuana is the only medicine that eases the pain I suffer from my ailments. I fight every day to be without pain and cannot imagine what will happen on August 31 if my medicine is taken away,” said Wetch.
Lang and Wetch were joined by David Lewis in delivering the “Stand with Bob” petition to the Attorney General. Lewis is Vietnam War veteran who suffers from chronic pain, depression and anxiety from his service in Vietnam.
“Patients already suffer from the many illnesses and diseases that made us patients in the first place, and now, when SB 423 goes into effect, we will suffer more,” said Lewis. “We need and deserve access to our medicine. It’s just not right.”
I-182, which will appear on the November ballot, would restore patients’ access to medical marijuana by eliminating the three patient limit. It also puts in place new accountability measures, requiring all providers, growers and testing labs to be licensed and requiring unannounced yearly inspections of those facilities.