May 23, 2012 9:35 AM by Drew Trafton
BILLINGS - It's no secret that medical marijuana is a hot and timely issue in the state of Montana.
Tuesday night, a new documentary on the subject fueled the debate in Billings once again, following a screening at the Alberta Bair Theater.
Code of the West, a Racing Horse Productions film, zeroes in on how Montana's culture played a role in the 2011 State Legislature's vote to effectively end the medical marijuana industry.
The film has been making Montana debuts in theaters across the state.
After each screening, a panel discussion allowed audience members to ask questions of various subjects involved in the film, as well as experts in the medical field.
In Billings, that panel was moderated by Q2's Jay Kohn.
The audience, mostly comprised of people in favor of the medical marijuana industry, asked critical questions of marijuana industry opponents.
One of the most frequently asked questions had to do with how the perceived dangers of marijuana stacked up against alcohol and tobacco.
Dr. Ed Stickney, a past president of the Montana Medicinal Association and proponent of medical marijuana, told the audience he believed marijuana has an outdated socio-political reputation which has demonized cannabis.
"Marijuana has never killed anyone," said Stickney. "It is impossible. It is impossible to overdose on marijuana."
Most of the other audience questions fired at opponents were geared toward claims they made in the film about teen marijuana use being on the rise since the legalization of medical marijuana in Montana when a 2011 study by the Montana Office of Public Instruction showed a steady decrease in teen usage of marijuana.
The opponents to the industry on the panel, State Senator Jim Essmann and Cherrie Brady, chair of Safe Communities Safe Kids, told the audience the statistics did not change their stance on the issue.
Essman and Brady sighted concerns over regulating marijuana in a business setting and moral issues connected with the abuse of the industry.
If you would like to learn more about Code of the West or watch the trailer to the film, click here to go to the film's website.
The film will be available for purchase next month on that website.