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Nearly 1 in 10 Montana Parolees Uses Medical Marijuana

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – The Montana Department of Corrections is reporting that nearly one in 10 of its parolees holds a medical marijuana card.

Many of those holding the medical marijuana card, given to those who submit a prescription from a doctor, were previously arrested for drug offenses, the agency said.

In total, 786 out of the state’s 8,710 probationers and parolees have a card. That is a much higher rate than the general state population, where about one in 100 holds a medical marijuana card.

Justice officials worry that many people are skirting the law by falsely reporting they suffer from chronic pain to receive a doctor’s recommendation for the card.

“My main concern is the abuse we’re seeing,” said Mike Menahan, a state legislator and deputy county attorney in Lewis and Clark County. “There are people it’s beneficial for, but the people we see the most are scamming the system for their own benefit. I’m afraid it will ruin it for the people who are legitimate.”

A previous Department of Corrections effort to ban anyone on probation from using medical marijuana failed when it became clear state law did not allow the move.

“The problem is, we’re really on the cusp of this issue,” Corrections spokesman Bob Anez said. “It has incubated in the background for quite some time.”

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