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By Andi Bourne
Pathfinder 

Making Life a Little Easier for Those in Pain

 

Andi Bourne, Pathfinder

Terry Lucke is the sole owner of Fat Hippie in Seeley Lake. His son Alex Schlickbernd of Missoula works for him part time. Lucke's friend artist Kelly Loder of Missoula painted the sign.

SEELEY LAKE – When Terry Lucke's first patient asked him to be her provider he wasn't sure if he could provide marijuana to a 70-year-old woman. After she told him she had been smoking weed before he was born, he agreed. He has since watched countless patients lead more normal lives after using medical marijuana while they otherwise would live in pain.

"My primary focus is just helping people get through their lives and make life a little easier," said Lucke, sole owner of Fat Hippie A Friend Indeed in Seeley Lake. "If they hurt I don't think they should have to, if they have a list of debilitating conditions that qualify them. My purpose is to get them a decent safe product at a reasonable price that they can get through their life a little bit better and make it easier on them."

Medical marijuana was legalized in Montana by ballot initiative 148, the Montana Medical Marijuana Act in 2004. While Lucke said he voted for the initiative he didn't use pot because of drug testing at work. His roommate convinced him to go see a doctor about getting his patient card.

"I had some back pain, fallen off a few telephone poles at the cable company and that sort of stuff. So I got a card as a patient and I started growing in my apartment in a little closet," said Lucke.

Lucke grew up in the panhandle of Nebraska around agriculture. His family had a giant garden when he was growing up and he had always had houseplants. He got some books and went to a workshop on how to grow pot.

Lucke stepped into the provider role after his information was shared on the Patients and Family United's website as a potential provider following the workshop. His first call was for "the Happy Hippie."

He accepted his first patient, a 70-year-old woman, and his patient list continued to grow.

In late 2009s, Lucke got his provider permit. Through Youtube, trial and error and talking with other providers he refined his growing techniques. After outgrowing his apartment, he and two friends each put in $1,000, purchased lights and rented a shop in Missoula.

They would go to the traveling clinics as a provider in Missoula. Along with more than 100 other providers, up to 500 patients per day would funnel through and get signed up. They had between 50-70 patients at one time during the "Green Rush."

"It was crazy and exciting and wrong and fun. It was just a weird time," said Lucke. "It was so flamboyant, large and in your face. I think we collectively have ourselves to blame for SB423 because it was a little out of control."

The 2011 Montana legislature passed Senate Bill 423. It repealed the Montana Medical Marijuana Act to create the Montana Marijuana Act. This placed more stringent requirements on marijuana, eliminated any profit that could be made by providers and limited providers to three patients.

"It just wasn't feasible to continue," said Lucke.

They closed their shop and Lucke moved to Seeley Lake in late 2011. He maintained his patient card in anticipation that things would change.

In November 2016, voters approved Initiative 182. This changed the name back to the Montana Medical Marijuana Act and removed many of the stricter requirements.

The 2017 Legislature made additional changes to the initiative by passing SB 333. It created more detailed regulations, allowed for additional chemical manufacturing of marijuana products and created a tax on gross sales.

Being more comfortable with the law, Lucke renewed his provider license in April 2017. He moved into his shop at 714 Juniper Drive in Seeley Lake about five months ago. He hired local contractors to help remodel the building. They just harvested their first six plants grown solely in their new shop.

"We agree with all the new state requirements," said Lucke. "I want a safe, clean product going across this counter every time. And I want it to be as consistent as possible."

Lucke will be implementing the new "Seed to Sale" tracking software mid-March. The intent of the program is to track every gram of product in the building.

Every plant in the building after it is eight inches tall will have an RFID bar code tag on it. That will be recorded in the system. For every patient, they will be allotted a certain amount of square feet of canopy. When a plant is harvested, everything is weighed. As product is sold to carded patients, it is recorded and deducted from the amount produced.

"If the state comes in and does an audit, it should all match up," said Lucke. "Most importantly, the state just wants to keep their arms around where everything is going."

Lucke said it is going to be a hassle to start with because of keeping track of everything but once he gets a system down it will be beneficial because he will know exactly what he is getting off of each plant. He looks forward to some peace of mind as well.

"I don't want my product to ever end up somewhere it shouldn't," said Lucke. "I don't want it to end up at the high school or the junior high. That is not what this is about for us."

Once someone has a patient card they must choose one provider and are committed, through the law, to get it from that provider. Only if a change request is issued through the state can someone change.

Fat Hippie provides plant material for smoking. Lucke grows the two main strains of cannabis Sativa, Indica as well as various hybrids. They all have different effects and treat different aliments.

Fat Hippie produces concentration up to 90 percent potency that can be smoked or used for cooking. Lucke makes butter and cooking oil with the concentrate dissolved into it as well as body butters and creams and that can treat muscle or joint pain. Pipes and e-cig cartridges are also available.

Patients can purchase up to an ounce at a time from their provider. While Lucke does not have a legal requirement to limit the amount, he feels it is a moral responsibility to curtail purchase in excess of what he thinks is reasonable.

"[If someone is purchasing an unusually large amount] I want to know what the person is doing with all the pot because obviously they can't consume it," said Lucke.

Lucke has a heart for providing for veterans and older patients.

"I didn't serve myself and I just have a lot of gratitude for those guys and gals," said Lucke. "That is who I try and focus on."

Fat Hippie currently has about 30 patients most of which are in the Seeley-Swan and Missoula. He is currently accepting more.

"I just want people to know there is a local option. If they aren't happy with all the pharmaceuticals and they think this might help them some, I'm here and I'm willing to talk to anyone. [While my intent is not to change people's minds] You don't have to have a card to walk through the front door."

Andi Bourne, Pathfinder

Terry Lucke with his State of Montana Provider License.

Lucke has a wealth of knowledge about the medical uses of marijuana, the different products and their affects. He encourages people who think his products could be beneficial to talk to their medical providers. He can also recommend doctors that will not judge or interrogate someone for asking about medical marijuana as a treatment option.

"Since that first patient, I saw the difference it made in her life," said Lucke. "She was able to get around and go to the store. I think there are a lot of folks out there that could benefit from what we do."

For more information stop by Fat Hippie, 714 Juniper Drive, between 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Monday – Saturday. Lucke can also be reached at 406-207-5672, tlucke.lucke@gmail.com or find Fat Hippie A Friend Indeed on Facebook.

 

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