Medicinal pot in the Garden City, and a local writer scores a major writing coup 

Never let it be said that Missoula is not at the epicenter of budding science. The August issue of High Times magazine reports on a new study conducted right here in the Garden City, which examined the long-term health effects of chronic cannabis use. The first-of-it-kind study looked at four recipients of federally-provided medical marijuana and found that—surprise, surprise!— none of the four exhibited any serious adverse health effects whatsoever. The Missoula Chronic Clinical Cannabis Use Study, headed by Missoula neurologist Dr. Ethan Russo and Virginia nurse Mary Lynn Mathre, were conducted at St. Patrick Hospital and sponsored by Patients Out of Time, and investigated the long-term health effects of pot smoking on patients who used “ a known dosage of a standardized, heat sterilized, quality controlled supply of low-grade marijuana for 10-19 years.” The patients, whose prior medical conditions ranged from glaucoma to multiple sclerosis, were run through a battery of tests, including chest X-rays, magnetic-resonance-imaging brain scans, neurophysical, immunological and pulmonary function tests. The results, due to be published in the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics in January, 2002, showed “all four patients are stable with respect to their chronic conditions, and are taking many fewer standard pharmaceuticals than previously.” Although some minor changes in pulmonary function were found in two of the four patients, no cancer cells were detected, and no other negative functions were discovered. The study comes on the heels of growing public pressure in the United States to ease federal drug laws for medical marijuana, as well as last month’s policy change by the Canadian government to allow more patients access to such herbal remedies. High time we just say know.

Congratulations to Kate Gadbow, director of the creative writing program at the University of Montana, whose Pushed to Shore was recently chosen over some 1,700 entries to win the prestigious Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction. Of Gadbow’s prizewinning manuscript—which will net its author a $2,000 cash prize and a standard publishing contract—contest judge Rosellen Brown had the following elliptical praises to sing: “An aura of sadness and quiet hopefulness lingered for me for a long time after I finished this novel. Its poignancy, I think, comes from the paradoxical confrontation between innocence and experience these Asian strivers are caught in—at the same time that they are rendered childlike by ignorance of their new culture, we know they have been singed and seared, and therefore secretly toughened. Emigration/immigration is such a significant phenomenon right now (as it was a century ago, but in a simpler America) that this tension between competency and confusion, maturity and infantilization is an enormously fecund subject for a novelist with a well-developed sense of irony.” Pushed to Shore will be published by Sarabande Books in 2003. The author, part of a local writing dynasty of sorts that includes her Cutbank-raised sisters Deirdre and Megan McNamer and, by marriage and/or birth, husband Darryl Gadbow, brother-in-law Bryan DiSalvatore, and nephew Zach Dundas, was unavailable for comment this week. Out spending the prize money on pennywhistles and moon-pies, no doubt. Congrats again, Kate.

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