Warning Label Rejected For Montana Medical Marijuana
House Bill 389, sponsored by Rep. Pat Noonan (D-Ramsay), fell by only one vote, 50-49.
Noonan’s bill would have required medical marijuana labels to include this language, in at least 14-point type, in all capital letters: “WARNING: IN SOME INSTANCES, MARIJUANA MAY TRIGGER ACUTE PSYCHOSIS OR SYMPTOMS OF SCHIZOPHRENIA AND OTHER MENTAL ILLNESSES.”
Caregivers who sold medical marijuana to patients could have faced a $500 civil penalty for failing to attach the warning labels.
Noonan called the warning labels “a good thing.” He told the Billings Gazette Friday that he was asked to introduce the bill by the Montana Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Rep. David Howard (R-Park City) opposed the bill, but not because he doesn’t think marijuana is dangerous. He was against it because he claimed it “legitimizes” what he considers an illegal substance — despite the fact that 62 percent of Montana voters approved medical marijuana seven years ago.
The “Reefer Madness” notion that marijuana leads to psychosis, as represented by the Montana warning labels which which were one vote away from being approved, has a major problem: widespread cannabis use by the public has not been followed by a proportional rise in diagnoses of schizophrenia or psychosis, according to the findings of a 2009 study published in the journal Schizophrenia Research.
The authors concluded that an expected rise in diagnoses of schizophrenia and psychoses did not occur in the decade under study.
Schizophrenia rates are similar across decades and from country to country: about 0.5 percent in any given population. Rates of cannabis use, on the other hand, have skyrocketed since the 1960s. In the United States, 41 percent of adults have used marijuana at some point in their lives; 10.3 percent have used in the past year, and 6.1 percent have used pot in the last month — yet schizophrenia rates remain unchanged.
The results of another clinical trial, also published in 2009, indicate that the use of marijuana does not affect brain chemistry in a way that is consistent with the development of schizophrenia.
Steve Elliott is editor of Toke of the Town, Village Voice Media’s site of cannabis news, views, rumor, and humor. He’s willing to take his chances.