Montana: Is this what you get when attorneys are in charge of medical care ?

Cancer-stricken former state rep. appeals to AG on medical-marijuana enforcement

HELENA – A former chair of the Montana Democratic Party, stricken with pancreatic cancer, has made a personal appeal to state Attorney General Tim Fox to support delaying enforcement of new restrictions on medical marijuana in the state.

Fox, however, said through a spokeswoman that his office can’t “nullify state law” or choose to go against a state Supreme Court order.

Bob Ream, a retired wildlife-biology professor and former state representative from Missoula, wrote a letter last week to Fox, a Republican, describing his recent diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and his difficulty sleeping.

Ream wrote that he’s “never been a pot-smoker,” but that medical marijuana is the only thing that has helped him get some sleep – and that “it is not possible to fight cancer and endure chemotherapy without sleep.”

New restrictions on the drug, including limiting medical-marijuana providers to only three patients, are scheduled to take effect Aug. 31.

The 2011 Legislature passed the restrictions, but they’d been tied up in court until the Montana Supreme Court upheld them in February.

However, medical-marijuana supporters in Montana have qualified a ballot measure to remove the restrictions. Montana voters will decide the issue in the Nov. 8 election.

Medical-marijuana supporters asked the state Supreme Court earlier this year to delay the effect of its ruling, until the election or until the 2017 Legislature could reconsider the issue. The court rejected that request, but did set the Aug. 31st effective date.

The marijuana industry has since asked a state District Court to intervene. Fox’s office has filed arguments saying the Supreme Court order should be carried out.

Acquaintances of Ream said he’s worried he could be among the thousands of medical-marijuana patients who would lose their provider, once the three-patient-per-provider limit becomes law.

About 13,000 people have been approved to receive medical marijuana, but only about 430 providers exist in the state – so only 1,300 patients could continue to obtain the drug from providers.

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