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Letter: Misrepresentations about medical marijuana law by Montana politicians deplorable

Montana politicians are misleading the public, including North Dakota citizens.

On Sunday, The Dickinson Press published a report about the Montana medical marijuana program as it relates to the upcoming ballot issue in North Dakota, quoting Montana Sen. Donald Steinbeisser, R-Sidney, as saying, "The problem we had in Montana, before the last session, over half of the people that were using medical marijuana cards were 20- to 30-year-olds. You know dog-gone well there's something wrong with that."

According to the Montana Department of Health and Human Services as of April 2011, when cardholders were at the peak, 25 percent of people registered as cardholders were from 21 to 30 years old.

Compare this to the 22 percent of cardholders ages 51 to 60. You will find that abuses are not as widespread as Montana politicians lead you to believe.

This is not the first time these misrepresentations have happened. Sen. Jeff Essman, R-Billings, sponsor and champion of Montana Senate Bill 423, has stated over and over again that Montana teens are using more marijuana because of the passage of our compassionate medical marijuana-use laws.

He is famous or infamous for saying children are prostituting themselves for marijuana cookies and marijuana in schools. And that due to our medical marijuana laws, teen use of marijuana has increased.

Yet the Montana Office of Public Instruction reports that teen marijuana use is going down.

The number of high school children reporting marijuana use in their life peaked in 2001, long before the passage of medical marijuana in Montana, at 46.7 percent and fell to 39.2 percent this year.

Stienbeisser also states that the Montana Supreme Court has blocked portions of SB423. Again this is untrue. While Montana District Court Judge James Reynolds enjoined portions of SB423 as being unconstitutional, the Montana Supreme Court has yet to rule on this issue and Montanans anxiously await the decision and ask them to do their jobs.

As a Montanan, these gross misrepresentations by politicians are deplorable and leave me with a great feeling of shame that our politicians are so dogmatic against this issue that they are willing to not only mislead Montanans but others outside of our state.

I would encourage citizens and reporters everywhere to do their own research and not follow the word of Montana politicians who are either dishonest or uneducated and incompetent to be giving such advice.

Nathan Pierce, Billings, Mont., founder and former president of the Montana Cannabis Industry Association, Missoula, Mont.