Two Montana medical marijuana patients have started a marijuanagrowing business that supplies several patients across the state. Dave Minnick and Rick Rusio operate what they call Caregivers Montana. They even have a Web site at www.caregiversmontana.com. "I could have stayed hidden and done this, but it wouldn't make it any more right," Minnick said Thursday. "Many people who need this are scared." Three years ago, Montana voters approved an initiative to allow people with certain medical conditions to alleviate their symptoms through the use of marijuana. State law allows doctors to recommend marijuana for specific conditions, such as chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures and severe or persistent muscle spasms. Patients must register with the state as do the "caregivers" who grow marijuana. The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services has issued what users call "green cards" to 468 people whose doctors have decided that cannabis can help them. It also has issued "caregiver" cards to 167 people who can grow up to six plants for each patient, said Roy Kemp, who runs the medical marijuana registry program for the state health department. Minnick and Rusio are among the 23 "caregivers," who legally grow and sell medical marijuana to multiple patients. Minnick said he started his medical marijuana business four months ago for two reasons: to help sick people and to make some money. Right now, he's got more demand than he can supply, and he's looking for a larger space so he can take on more patients. "Our issue is providing access in a safe, comfortable manner," he said. "It's about providing a necessary service at a reasonable price." The partners wouldn't reveal the price of their product, but said they sell it for much less than the street price of $300 an ounce or more. Minnick said he urges everybody involved with medical marijuana to follow the laws. "This is a privilege given us by the people of Montana," he said. "It's important that people obey the law and not abuse the system." They know that marijuana can't cure severe illness, but say it can make it easier to tolerate. "It makes me get up and go and function every day," said Rusio, who is HIV positive and said marijuana eases the nausea caused by his medication and soothes the arthritis pain in his back. Minnick has a green card allowing him to use marijuana to treat pain from an old back injury. His wife uses it to treat an eye disease related to diabetes. "As long as he's operating in compliance with the law, he's legal, and I guess we'll act accordingly," Livingston Police Chief Darren Raney said of Minnick's marijuana business. The federal government could be another issue. Officials have cracked down on medical marijuana operations in California and on a patient in Missoula who obtained marijuana through the mail, but so far haven't busted any Montana caregivers. But Minnick said he feels confident he'll be all right as long as he complies with state law. "I feel it's everyone's right," he said. "I honestly believe it works. I'm dealing with the sick and needy."