Only twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia currently have laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form. Don’t get me wrong, those are a lot of states and we’ve come a long way in the past few years but thirty is still a low number. More states should feel the wind behind the nation’s back and utilize marijuana as what it is: medicine. The cultivation of cannabis can be traced back at least 12,000 years, which places the plant among humanity’s oldest cultivation crops. The first recorded use of cannabis as a medicinal drug occurred in 2737 BC by the Chinese emperor Shen Nung. He documented the drug’s effectiveness in treating the pains of rheumatism and gout. Both hemp and psychoactive marijuana were widely used in ancient China. This is public knowledge. Those twenty-nine states and DC understand the importance of the plant and went through the hoops and the paper work and constructed a blueprint for their marijuana program. Now, other states who want to follow in their paths with their own marijuana program are looking to their neighbors for some insight.
Montana is taking aims in the right direction as the state’s health department released a pack of proposed rules for the medical marijuana industry on November 9. A public hearing is scheduled for Nov. 30 at the Department of Public Health and Human Services building in Helena. Heath Department spokesman Jon Ebelt said in an email that DPHHS took input from the Montana industry and researched practices in “all states” that have marijuana programs. Testing methods conducted in other states was also heavily considered by Ebelt and his men. They sought out each state’s practices, reached out to labs across the nation, and worked with marijuana testing labs in Montana to develop their part of the regulation. This is beautiful to watch from an outsider’s perspective to see states look to each other for help and ideas on not only how to blueprint a marijuana program—but a great marijuana program.
Testing was important for Ebelt because he wanted to not only understand how other states were operating, but how Montana can do it better. Under the rules for Montana’s program, providers would require to have their products tested for characteristics such as levels of THC and other compounds in the plant like pesticides. Testing would also identify the presence of four types of heavy metals, 15 solvents and 59 pesticides, microbes and other things. The department also outlined the level at which a test batch will be rejected for certain items. A tracking system was also included into the law. These proposed rules show that providers will register for an inventory tracking system account administered by the department. Each day, providers would be required to log information about sales, ongoing harvest weights and disposed waste. Medical marijuana groups in Montana are expected to lend commentary to the health department on the proposed administrative rules.