Here are seven reasons why The Billings Gazette got it wrong in its recent editorial about medical marijuana, and why the Billings City Council got it correct.

The mayor, city council and staff got it right. Marijuana is a federal illegal drug Schedule 1. The city can’t issue a business license to any company (pot shop) that is involved in a federal illegal activity. Helena, Great Falls and Kalispell have similar laws banning medical marijuana shops in the city limits.

Medical marijuana green-card holders will still get their medicine in a timely manner. There are lots of choices. There are providers who deliver to your home. A lot of users grow their own at their home.  Federal Drug Administration medical marijuana is available at their local pharmacy today, and they can drive outside of Billings to pick up from their provider.

Medical marijuana is not prescription-based. There are no prescriptions or required monitored doctor care in I-182, the new 2017 medical marijuana law. This is why the Gazette was dead wrong in its editorial. The I-182 new green card system allows for in state traveling doctors that charge hundreds of dollars to produce a letter to the Montana Department of Health and Human Services which allows almost anyone a medical marijuana green card for one year. Once the green-card holder (recreation and medical marijuana users) has his or her card, the majority of the time no real doctor or pharmacist sees this user until the next year where they pay this instate traveling doctor again.

If marijuana is a pain medication, why is it handed out by budtenders with no medical education required? Pharmacists go to school and on the job training for nine years for their license. If marijuana is a pain medication, why is not required to be registered in the Steve Bullock’s Montana state pain medication registry? This registry of pain medication has been very effective with opioid abuse and would squeeze the recreation use out of medical marijuana.

Why would you give marijuana that has not been human tested to your loved ones? SafeMontana suggests all medical marijuana be run through our FDA, pharmacies and real doctors.

Did you know that there are medical marijuana products at CVS and Walgreens that require a prescription(no green card) and are legal in Billings because they are on Schedule 2, have been human tested, come with warning labels and can only be prescribed for 30 days because you have to be under doctor supervision by a pharmacist, unlike the rules in I-182?

Dispensaries and budtenders are a recipe for recreational marijuana to be dispensed under the guise of medicine, everybody knows this but the tainted Gazette editorial staff. That’s because the paper receives money from dispensaries for advertising and its community board member receives rent from one. Please google Charlton "Chuck" Campbell in Bozeman, the largest distributor of medical marijuana in the state, and convicted felon again.

Please thank Billings Mayor Tom Hanel, city council and staff for protecting our schools and families from illegal drug activity in Billings.

Steve Zabawa founded SafeMontana and lives in Billings. 

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