Jun 28, 2010 7:11 PM by Marnee Banks (KXLH News-Helena)

Discord in the Montana medical marijuana community (VIDEO)

In April, a work group made up of local government, law enforcement, and the medical marijuana community was tasked with exploring developing issues with the Medical Marijuana Act in Montana. Members of the work group agreed upon several issues and presented their recommendations to legislators in Helena on Monday.

Among the recommendations: the state must create a regulatory board to oversee caregiver activities; legislators must clarify definitions within the law and review and amend the allowable amounts of medical marijuana; and a prohibition on the use of medical marijuana on school grounds.

Members of the Children, Families, Health & Human Services Interim Committee hope to come up with a draft bill, or amendments to the current Act, by November; until then, members of the medical marijuana community are working with legislators in an effort to increase support for their causes.

During the meeting, it was evident there is a growing rift in the medical marijuana community, and two men who have championed the cause are at the center of it.

Jason Christ runs the Montana Caregivers Network, an organization that hosts mass medical marijuana screening clinics; Tom Daubert runs Patients & Families United and has been at the forefront of passing the Medical Marijuana Act. Both sit as members of the work group reviewing the Medical Marijuana Act and making recommendations to legislators.

Daubert said, "For all the flaws in the law, the biggest single problem has been Mr. Christ's exploitation of its vagueness and loopholes."

When asked, "How do you plan on dealing with this if you guys can't work together?", Christ replied, "We are working together, Tom Daubert and I work together. He works hard to end suffering and I work hard to end suffering. That is working together."

Daubert countered, "I think his effect on public understanding of this law has been devastating. His influence on the politics of this law have been poisonous. Its a very sad thing for all the patients who need cannabis."

Daubert says the majority of members of the medical marijuana community agree the law needs further regulation, and added that he would like to see mass screening clinics, like the ones Christ runs, entirely outlawed, noting, "It has invited a complete circus atmosphere tarnishing a very important law that is vital to addressing the suffering of thousands of Montanans who legitimately need cannabis as medicine."

Christ stated in the meeting that he thinks some regulation of the act is good, but is worried about over-regulation.

On Tuesday, a subcommittee made up of legislators will begin crafting changes to the Medical Marijuana Act.

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