My friend Shelly changes her fentanyl patches every two days. It used to be a single patch every three days. Now it's two patches every other day—for a combined 62.5 mcg. Diagnosed one year ago with a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor, she's in a club she never asked to join. With cancer as her entry ticket, she can fill her prescriptions without question. But when she uses morphine and Dilaudid and lorazepam for breakthrough pain and anxiety, "All I can do is sleep," she says. "That's not living."
Her medical marijuana card used to offer an alternative. "Mentally, physically, spiritually, psychologically ... with the pot, I am living," she says.
I met Shell's providers in early August when I took her to the pot shop, and I was impressed with their professionalism, knowledge, concern for Shelly, and their array of products. They applauded testing, taxation and regulations, but were frustrated with Montana's forthcoming legislation. When it took effect Aug. 31 and limited providers to only three patients, they couldn't afford to stay in business.
Shell has been receiving in-home hospice care since spring. Marijuana enabled her to make memories with her family: taking road trips to Yellowstone National Park and to Colorado, enjoying movie nights and family dinners, and dancing at her daughter's wedding. She stocked up on enough pot "to last through September" but now it's October and her pain has worsened. She is without a provider, as are 11,849 other registered medical marijuana patients (see "In search of releaf," Oct. 6).
In 2014, there were more than 14,000 U.S. deaths involving prescription opioids. According to the DEA, "No death from overdose of marijuana has been reported." Montanans voted to legalize medical marijuana in 2004, and it has been used to treat patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, epilepsy and more. Please vote for I-182.
My name is Quinn Fitzpatrick. I am a 28-year-old recovered alcoholic whose life has been saved by medical cannabis, and I am writing to encourage my fellow Montanans to vote YES on I-182 this fall (see "In search of releaf," Oct. 6).
When I was 23 years old and at the height of my alcoholism, a severe accident left me with a bruised heart, broken hand, two breaks in my pelvis and a severely lacerated liver. Had the woman who hit me with her car not called the ambulance, I would have died from internal bleeding. I spent four months in the hospital, three of which were spent in the SICU. I spent those four months on heavy opiate-based medications.
I left the hospital with prescriptions for some of the most heavily abused opiate-based medications on the market. After taking only a small fraction of what I had been prescribed, I opted to use cannabis and yoga for rehabilitation instead. Although the doctors had optimistically estimated an 18-month recovery time, I was walking in just six months and back doing backflips within a year. I was able to stay out of the clutches of opiate addiction while cannabis, diet and exercise helped me recover and shaped me into the man I am today. I have now been sober for five years.
I-182 must pass. Lives depend on this law, and Montana citizens want a responsible and accountable medical marijuana law. If you know someone with an addiction problem, a pain management situation or a life-threatening condition like epilepsy, cancer or HIV/AIDS, please know that medical cannabis could someday be their saving grace. Cannabis isn't for everyone or every condition, but patients suffering from debilitating illnesses should all have the right to access this natural medicine safely and legally.
Montanans were sold a bill of goods in 2004 that the process of getting medical marijuana was by going to their doctor and receiving a prescription. Montanans were deceived back then and the proponents of I-182 are trying to deceive Montanans this time as well.
By 2008 Montanans saw the irresponsible, unregulated and unmonitored program explode in Montana. Traveling doctors "recommended" cannabis to their "clients," despite the fact that they lack even the most rudimentary information about the composition, quality and dose.
While pharmaceutical companies are responsible for any harm that befalls a patient from their products and tobacco companies are held accountable for damage done by cigarettes, marijuana providers and dispensaries hold no accountability for their product, of which very little is known. At a time that efforts are being made to stem the epidemic of prescription drug abuse, I-182 would allow distribution sites to proliferate without true regulation.
A state ballot initiative should not be the process to approve medicine. The general public is not qualified to make medical decisions. The practice of medicine is evidence-based, and the legalization of a drug with the potential for abuse by the general population that has no qualification to determine composition, quality and dose is a bad way to practice medicine. It guarantees the failure of a program that may have potential success for patients who need medical marijuana under a doctor's care and it ensures the accessibility of recreational marijuana to the rest of the population.
Montanans need to vote "No" to I-182. It wasn't a good idea in 2004, and it is not a good idea in 2016. If you take the time to compare the two initiatives from 2004 and 2016, it is obvious that not only have the pro-marijuana proponents not made the medical marijuana safer for people with debilitating conditions, they have also opened up the system so that those who want to use it recreationally can have easier access to it.
I am a frequent visitor to the Missoula area, and, being a nature lover and a birder, I always enjoy a walk in Greenough Park. While doing some research on my family, I began to wonder if there was any connection between my Great Aunt Estelle Greenough Easton and Greenough Park. Was she part of that family, did she ever live in Missoula and was there ever a Greenough home on the park acreage?
On a drizzly day last week, I popped into the Missoula Public Library to see if anyone would be willing to help me answer these questions. I headed for the reference desk. Jodi Christophe was on duty. Friendly and helpful, she offered to email me the information.
Imagine my excitement when, the next day, Jodi wrote me back, telling me that Estelle Greenough was Thomas L. Greenough's eldest daughter. Estelle and her siblings had grown up in the family home near Greenough Park, and Estelle was married to my grandfather's brother, Stanly (correct spelling) A. Easton in that same house.
Jodi sent me photocopies of old Missoulian issues describing how Thomas L. had given Greenough Park to the city of Missoula in 1901. She also found an article which showed the Greenough Mansion being moved during the construction of the freeway in the 1990s.
My point is that there's nothing like talking to a real human being—a good reference librarian such as Jodi Christophe. Your library is an amazing treasure. It is one of the most welcoming and complete that I've encountered anywhere.
I understand there's a bond issue to help construct a much-needed bigger library. Please support it. The Missoula Public Library is a community center, and an asset that will keep on giving into the years ahead.
Joan Easton Lentz
Santa Barbara, Calif.
The writing is on the wall for fossil fuels. Public pressure and market forces have already forced the scheduled closures of two of Colstrip's four coal-powered generators. To prepare for the inevitable closure of the other two generators, NorthWestern Energy has proposed spending $1.3 billion on 13 new gas generators.
Natural gas is often touted as a "bridge fuel" to clean energy, but the amount of methane—a highly potent greenhouse gas—released during natural gas mining makes it just as bad or worse for the climate than coal. Gas is a bridge to climate disaster, while the cost of clean energy sources like wind and solar have dropped so much that they are competitive with fossil fuels.
And Montana has these clean forms of energy in abundance. Nonetheless, NorthWestern Energy is making it increasingly difficult for clean energy projects like rooftop solar to be economically viable; at the legislature last year NorthWestern called rooftop solar a "cancer" that must be stopped.
Hundreds of Montanans will be gathering in Butte on Oct. 10 to send a message to NorthWestern that we want an immediate pivot toward renewables. NorthWestern Energy enjoys a state-sanctioned monopoly. It should serve its customers first, and shareholders second. Please join Montanans from across the state in Butte next Monday to make sure the company remembers this. Visit the 350 Montana web page for more information about the event and the issue.
Addrien Marx is blessed with the background and skills that make her the ideal representative for Montanans living in House District 92.
Addrien knows what it means to be a mother. She knows firsthand the challenges of running a Montana business. She has backpacked in the "Bob." Her teaching experience makes it easier for her to understand and assist others. She has successful experience helping folks with differing viewpoints find win-win solutions. She helped build a shooting range. Addrien has served the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, Open Lands Advisory Committee, Seeley Lake Community Foundation and is one of four founding members of Seeley Lake ROCKS, an organization working to expand outdoor recreation.
Addrien values our industry and our wildlife. Addrien appreciates our schools and our public lands. Addrien has a vision for Montana's future that builds on what Montanans treasure most about our state while keeping an open mind about changes that may enhance long-term prosperity. Addrien will see that opportunities are addressed effectively, while strengthening the best of Montana.
Vote for Addrien Marx to represent Montanans in House District 92.
Cornered by common sense that would restrict commercial and recreational traps to private lands, trappers shout outlandish claims, like taking credit for the recovery of game species. The truth is trapping takes a huge toll and has nothing to do with recovering anything. Beavers were trapped out of Montana in less than 20 years. By 1847, they were gone, causing severe drought in eastern Montana. After reintroduction, trapping them was outlawed for a century.
Hunters, not trappers, saved game species. Hunters outlawed commercial take of wildlife and restricted hunting, but trappers continue to commercialize wildlife and refuse even mandatory trap-checks, showing no such responsibility. Instead, they lace our public lands with an unlimited number of traps, taking any and all animals, and throwing away those they don't want—dogs, cats, endangered species, migratory birds, livestock, even fish. Trappers have had many opportunities to self-regulate (checking traps more frequently, marking traps to warn other public lands users, etc.) but have singularly failed to.
Pine marten, swift fox and fishers were trapped out and reintroduced at taxpayers' expense. Now, lynx, wolverine and river otter join the imperiled list due to trapping.
Trappers say they have to trap bobcats because they are nocturnal predators. This is patently insincere, because trappers trap bobcats to sell their pelts, nothing else. Bobcats eat rodents, helping keep disease in check. A bobcat pelt goes for $260. All-terrain vehicles and thousands of miles of roads mean trappers penetrate farther and faster than ever before, raising the unchecked slaughter exponentially.
We should be able to enjoy our public lands without fear of dangerous devices that maim and kill indiscriminately. Please vote "Yes" on I-177.
In response to Amy Greer's letter (see "Not very sporting," Sept. 22), I agree that public land is for everyone to enjoy. So which minority would be banned next? If trapping is so bad on public land, why isn't it bad on private land?
If you think this ban will stop on private land, it will not. I am a very good trapper and I still lost 11 laying hens to a fox. When I trapped the fox I was not being very sporting. But I only have two hens left, so if you have a couple, feel free to give me a call.
As a young boy, living on the edge of the Pintlers, I had the unique opportunity of spending time with my grandfather hunting and learning to trap and run a trapline. I would not trade that time spent with a great man from a different time for anything. I continued trapping into my late teens. I loved the excitement and dreamed about living off the land in an earlier age.
As I aged and hopefully matured, the treasured memories of my grandfather started to separate from what I did and saw on that trapline. Memories of hearing the animals whimper in fear, confusion and pain as I approached the still distant trap set. Blood-soaked snow in a circle that represented the chain length. Sometimes finding nothing but a torn or chewed off leg of an animal that was soon to die. Often just the remains of a trapped animal eaten by another because it had no chance to escape. I look back on this with great regret.
My grandfather trapped out of necessity. I had no such excuse. I was destroying in the cruelest manner the things I loved the most. I can fully understand the resistance to Initiative 177 but if you could see and hear what I have, you would not hesitate to support it. This is no longer the age of trapping.
As a cofounder of the original Festival of the Dead in 1993, I want to share some historical perspective. Michael de Meng and I, both recent art school graduates, both working heavily with themes of mortality, were brainstorming projects at the time. We were both attracted to the Mexican/Latin American Dia de los Muertos celebration, with its colorful, artistic, community-minded expressions of life and death. We felt that Missoula was ripe for an event that would help us to address issues of mortality. Our idea was to create a Missoula-style event inspired by celebrations of Dia de los Muertos. Given that we are Caucasian, and that Missoula had a very small Latino population, we decided to call it Missoula's Annual Festival of the Dead and emphasize cultures represented in our area. The common theme that drew and still draws us together is that we all live and we all die and we have all experienced the deaths of others. Our focus was on artistic expression and performance. In the beginning, a handful of Latino people came forth to teach and share traditions. We also invited Native American drum groups, Scottish bagpipers, Middle Eastern belly dancers, a Haitian dance group—the list goes on. All kinds of creative expressions and interpretations have developed, to our delight. We did not feel comfortable or have a reason to reach back to ancient pre-Hispanic or pre-Columbian ceremonies.
The Missoula community has embraced Festival of the Dead, and it has evolved in interesting and wonderful ways. Our world is a melting pot, and there are fewer hard lines between cultures and ethnicities. We wanted to invite people to participate in their own unique way, according to their own cultural background, expressing their own beliefs and experiences regarding issues of mortality. We've always asked that people participate in a respectful and considerate way. The current controversies are good in that, hopefully, they generate positive dialogue and change.
Bev Beck Glueckert