Montana Hotel Employees: Our Newest Drug War Soldiers


“….Hickman said signs hotel workers can look for include guests who pay in cash, give false vehicle information, and don’t let housekeeping into their rooms……”

Years of working all over Montana and Wyoming, staying in hotels for weeks on end taught me a few lessons.  Maids steal.  Not all of them, nor most of them, but many do.  I’ve had money, jewelry, cosmetics, flat irons, and clothing stolen while I was out of my room. None of it was particularly valuable, but the losses were extremely annoying and they certainly added up over the years, and none of the items ever turned up. I asked the housekeeping departments about my items, but most of the maids weren’t fluent in English, which further complicated the situation.  After my favorite necklace disappeared, I decided that I would no longer utilize housekeeping service.  Now, I’m considered suspicious.  I could be a drug dealer, user, or God forbid, a prostitute or one who enjoys their services.  I haven’t encountered any hotels that accepted cash payment, but if I had, I would have used cash.  It has been quite some time since a hotel required vehicle information from me, but I have never memorized my license plate number and I generally guessed- likely incorrectly.  I’m not a drug user or dealer, nor have I been or used a prostitute… although I do occasionally don some questionable boots.

From the Billings Gazette:

A two-month program to train hotel workers to keep an eye out for illegal drug sales or prostitution has resulted in arrests, law enforcement officials with the Central Montana Drug Task Force say.

Sgt. Chris Hickman of the Great Falls Police Department said workers are trained to recognize suspicious behavior, look for evidence of illegal drugs coming from rooms, and know who to call.

Hickman told the Great Falls Tribune that police are pursuing three active cases based on tips from lodging employees in Great Falls.

Hotels are trying to help in the effort, sometimes providing rooms to set up stings.

“A lot of the hotels in town are giving the complimentary space to get the bad guys,” said Sandi Thares, general manager of the O’Haire Motor Inn. “We’re not aiding, we’re trying to do what we can to help them.”

Hickman said signs hotel workers can look for include guests who pay in cash, give false vehicle information, and don’t let housekeeping into their rooms.

But Hickman noted that hotels and motels that cooperate with police can sometimes end up with bad publicity when arrests are made.

“It’s kind of like a double-edged sword,” Hickman said. “We’re not trying to pick on any hotels. We absolutely respect the heck out of these managers. They’re sending a message that we’re going to keep a sharp eye out for people.”

Last month police arrested a group of people authorities say were involved in drug sales. One of the buys, according to reports, took place in the O’Haire Motor Inn parking lot. Police said those arrests were made after getting a tip from an O’Haire employee who spotted the suspicious activity.

Thares said the benefits of stopping illegal activity outweigh the risk of the occasional bad publicity.

“Everyone wants to keep their community safe, and it’s a small way in which hoteliers can do that,” she said.

Hickman said criminal activity can show up at any motel or hotel.

“I couldn’t think of a hotel in town that hasn’t had some type of drug activity taking place,” he said.

Training ordinary people to become amateur sleuths is a frankly frightening concept for me.  While I can understand that hotel management and owners have concerns about illegal activities occurring on their property, the surveillance work should be left to the professionals- who already have access to a massive network of  government approved snitches in the form of informants. Digging through the luggage of guests presents massive security and privacy concerns as does investigating whether the sex partners of guests are paid. And what about the safety of the snitch?  Dangerous criminals tend to get even when they get mad. Our government already often punishes drug criminals more harshly than pedophiles and those who have committed violent crimes, and our tax dollars fund this war on our own people.  Involving ordinary people is dangerous on so many levels.

 

In Fed v State Power Struggle, Park County Attorney Linneweber Chooses to Aid Feds


Ambitious Park County Attorney Brett Linneweber of Livingston apparently is using his elected position for brownie points with the feds.  November 13, 182 marijuana plants were seized from a Livingston home.  Using the typical “seize now, ask questions later” policy, Linneweber said that he had yet to be able to determine whether the plants were legal under state law because “other matters have taken priority”.   Although there is a state registry available to law enforcement 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, he has been too busy to determine the legality of the plants?  A simple phone call takes too long?  He hasn’t had time since November 13?

Never mind anyway.  Linneweber also stated that if he does find that the grow was legal under our state law, he will simply turn the investigation over to the federal government who would certainly find it interesting that anyone would dare grow so many plants under STATE laws allowing it.  In addition, officials seem to be deferring to I-148 as parts of SB-423 are caught up in litigation.  From the Livingston Enterprise:

The deputies took the plants because even if they turn out to be legal under Montana’s medical marijuana law, federal law prohibits growth and use of the drug, Linneweber said Friday.

Montana’s medical marijuana law — parts of which were revised by the last Legislature and are now caught up in litigation — permits use of the drug in some instances.

Given the current state of that law being caught up in court, law enforcement is referring to limits set by the previous state law, Linneweber said. That law stated a patient could have up to six mature plants for personal use and that medical marijuana providers could have up to six plants per patient.

Given those limits, the number of plants found in the Green Acres home makes it unlikely that the grow was legal, Linneweber said. And even if it’s found to be legal under Montana law, marijuana is still banned under federal law, he said.

While marijuana is prohibited under federal statutes, the Obama administration has said it won’t make prosecution of medical marijuana a priority.

Linneweber said local law enforcement officials typically defer to Montana rules regarding amounts of allowable marijuana rather than the federal law, which would permit no marijuana possession. But the number of plants found in the home Sunday is significant and likely is something federal agents would want to know about, he said.

“On 182 plants, it’s very rare that a provider … is entitled to have that many plants,” he said. “Further, the feds are generally interested in pursuing (an investigation in a case involving) that amount.”

Linneweber said that if the seized marijuana turns out to be legal under Montana law, he plans to refer the case to federal agents.

Who does Park County Attorney Brett Linneweber work for anyway?  Elected county officials are under no obligation to assist federal agencies in investigations for federal crimes that are legal under state law.  I would consider any such activity to be wanton waste of local funds and blatant disregard of state law.   Please call County Attorney Linneweber to ask him why he is ignoring Montana voters.  Contact information available below.

Hypocrite, Meet Karma: Another Righteous Right-Winger Down


Arrest warrants for one of montanafesto’s favorite prohibitionists were issued today. Oh no, don’t worry; he wasn’t arrested for possessing the dangerous and violence- inducing marijuana,rest assured it was nothing like that.  Reverend Harris Himes and James “Jeb” Bryant stand accused of six felony charges, including theft, fraudulent practices and conspiracy to commit the same for their role in allegedly committing the pious act of bilking an investor out of his entire $150,000 inheritance. It gets worse though.  When things weren’t adding up, Himes abandoned the investor in Mexico, leaving him at property that wasn’t owned by either of the men.  Himes and his partner in crime stopped returning the victim’s calls a year ago, prompting a year long investigation which concluded that neither man are licensed to sell securities in Montana nor was their company registered as an investment property with the CSI.

Reverend Harris Himes, who believes that gay people should be put to death and that medical use of the marijuana plant is a sin against God, who ironically is often credited as the creator of said plant as well as of the Reverend Himes.  The pastor of the Big Sky Christian Center in Hamilton is often featured on Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government website and received quite a lot of attention when he witnessed SEIU thugs beating Kenneth Gladney a couple of years ago. The dramatic accounts of the beating were highly inconsistent and upon questioning, Himes changed several components of the tall tale, eventually admitting that he actually didn’t even see the “attack” begin.  Himes was a the GOP’s moral fixture during Montana’s 62nd legislative session, providing a special brand of moral authority, spiritual testimony and guidance in opposition of all proposed marijuana legislation, with the exception of the full repeal which God was hoping would become law.  He was also the GOP God Squad’s go- to guy when testimony containing moral judgments of homosexuality were required.  Himes, a brilliant biblical scholar; eagerly offered scripture supportive of the murder of our gay brothers and sisters sprinkled with the occasional opinion of God.  Himes was also rather concerned about the increasing number of attractive women who were suddenly interested in horticulture, which he naturally blamed on the demonic allure of the evil drug, marijuana.

The highly respected religious figure Reverend Himes also serves as the the state leader  of Montana Eagle forum….

“Montana Eagle Forum has members in all corners of the state of Montana. We are a conservative pro-family organization working in our communities and state to influence public policy on issues that affect our traditional family values, our freedoms as outlined by the U.S. Consititution and place the highest reguard (sic) for God. We accomplish this by informing and equipping citizens to take action.”

I wonder how God feels about someone who claims to act on His behalf, deceiving an innocent victim who was seeking a safe investment for his sizable inheritance.  I wonder how he feels about this man of God accompanying his investor to their non-existent property, which according to Himes was the site of their future factory.  The land, in reality; was an empty lot owned by neither of the men.  The state’s investigation concluded that the funds were indeed wired to Himes and bank records indicate the money ($150,000) was used to pay the balance of one of the frugal pastor’s credit cards.  The victim has not to this date received even one penny return on his investment in the non-existent corporation invented by the humble man of the cloth.

Although this was apparently a state investigation, I will borrow a quote from another one of montanafesto’s favorite prohibitionists, Rep James Knox:  “Praise the Lord and Praise the Feds!”  Personally, I feel far safer knowing a persuasive and sleazy preacher, quick to not only condemn the lifestyle of gay couples, but to actually PUBLICLY call for their death as an appropriate punishment, has been arrested for such serious crimes.   I support the arrest of false prophets who prey on the trust of their parishioners.  Reverend Himes, is of course innocent until proven guilty. Perhaps Montana’s cannabis patients who are now unable to find safe access to medicine will send Himes some friendly correspondence in the big house. Himes was used so often in testimony the during the last session that it is obvious he is a close friend of Montana’s GOP God Squad.  A suitable replacement should be located quickly, perhaps Nathaniel bar Jonah could provide moral guidance to the legislators instead.  Oh my, scratch that, he’s apparently passed on.

Life Lessons Via Montana Politics


Over six months ago, I wrote “the girl without a party”. It was one of the lowest moments of my life politically.  I posted it on my personal blog because I wasn’t yet comfortable associating my name with montanafesto.  Concern about my political reputation and the potential for retribution was quickly outweighed by disdain for the actions of the people I’d helped elect. Ron Paul- supporting Republican cannabis activists aren’t the most popular people in the GOP.  In the last year, I have learned some tough lessons and I’m an infinitely better person as a result.

I learned that sometimes I needed to separate politics from people. Democrat State Senator Kendall Van Dyk and I were friends long ago, early in his political career.  I was even in attendance when he originally announced he was running for the Montana House. Differences in our political ideology created some distance between us and next thing you know, I was campaigning against him in the 2010 election and bashing him publicly.  I’m rather sure I referred to him regularly as a socialist.  Donning my finest liberal looking faux eyeglasses, flat hair and earth tones, I attended a lovely Forward Montana fundraiser in Kendall’s honor.  Certain my disguise was adequate, I brazenly carried on as if I fit right in with the liberals at the event.  Until, that is; that Kendall recognized his old friend and decided to politely but publicly, call out my ridiculous behavior.  I was mortified….. not because it was embarrassing, but because I was WRONG.  My partner in crime was a tea person, actually the founder of Montana Shrugged’s boyfriend and after the awkward situation, we rehashed the night’s events at length.  The overall consensus was liberals suck and KVD deserved the criticism.  I, however; wasn’t convinced that my behavior was justified so I sent Kendall a lengthy and sincere Facebook message apologizing for my heinous behavior.  The rest is history.  During the last legislative session, he was in regular contact with me- asking questions, offering suggestions.  We’ve even found a number of issues we agree on.  Life isn’t always black and white.

I learned to think twice before accepting an invitation to a politician’s holiday dinner.  Last Thanksgiving, I dined with the Representative James Knox family.  I was certain that after Knox tasted my truffles and experienced delightful and intelligent dinner conversation compliments of my honor student middle school daughter and yours truly that he would consider the possibility that Montana’s state-licensed cannabis community wasn’t entirely composed of dangerous criminals.  No dice.  While dinner was lovely, James Knox later invented statements I’d supposedly made at the dinner to use against me with his fan club, Safe Community, Safe Kids.  He sent my personal information, cell phone number, Facebook url, email address, you name it, to the entire email list of SCSK with the instructions to “flood my inbox” with harassing messages.  He threatened to sue me for defamation for posting actual business contracts he’d entered with a prominent local medical marijuana caregiver.  He accused me of photoshopping vicious statements in screenshots that I’d taken from his personal Facebook wall.  I could have forgiven him for most of it, but claiming his brother was “stolen by marijuana” as he cried on cue in legislative testimony….. it was just too much.

I learned to value behavior over beliefs. I never liked Senator Dave Wanzenried’s politics, after all, he’s a yikes, Missoula liberal.  I sure like his character though.  Although I assume he probably answered every email he received, I definitely noticed that he responded to all of mine, all of my father’s, and all of my grandmother’s.  Considering that none of us live in his senate district and none of us are democrats made this especially unusual.  As a result, I paid more attention to his politics and discovered he wasn’t THAT liberal.  Although not at all surprised, I was disappointed he withdrew from the Gubernatorial race.

I cannot respect politicians who will not respect their constituents. I never liked Senator Jeff Essmann’s character and the last legislative session only reinforced my opinion. Prior to the 2010 elections, then RNC chair Michael Steele stopped in Billings for an event on the “Fire Pelosi” bus tour.  I worked the door for the event and directed incoming traffic to one side or another depending on if they had paid for their entrance in advance.  Dutifully, I greeted the smiling Republicans as they entered the event…. until Senator Essmann arrived.  I asked him if he’d paid in advance and I will never forget the look on his face.  He looked me slowly up and down, finally steadying his gaze, as he angrily snarled “Excuse me! I sponsored this event. You’ve got to be kidding me.”  He glared at me and stomped away.  As others in line stared at me, I was certain they were shocked that a lowly nobody like me would dare request that someone as important as dry cleaning millionaire Jeff Essmann pay the family entrance fee of $35.  US Congressman Denny Rehberg…. he paid.  Former Senator Conrad Burns….. he paid.  Gubernatorial candidates….yep, they paid too.  In Essmann’s eyes, I’m apparently a nobody.  I was, at the time; the elections director for the Young Republicans…. nowhere near as important as him. Although that day, I was dirt under Essmann’s shoes, he created plenty of mud in the following months, and I can’t wait to sling it at him.  He plans to announce his run for Governor of Montana soon and I intend to show him some of the love he showed me.

I learned that currently, the only big tent in Montana’s Republican Party is a CIRCUS tent. The tent is big enough for all of the hatred and all of the tea people/extremists/religious zealots but there is only room enough for people like me right around election time when candidates need some help placing signs and knocking on doors.  Sorry boys, this cycle I won’t be helping you, but I’m not going away and neither are the thousands of Montanans who are just like me. We will hold you accountable.

I’m not giving up hope. 


Unjust Laws and a Morally Reasonable Jury


“There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice.”

–Charles de Montesquieu

Most of our readers are aware  that America is on a dangerous path, but many still believe we can fix the system through votes and elections. The anything-but-Patriot Act, the Department of Homeland Security, absurdly broad interpretation of the Constitution’s commerce clause…. all are symptoms of a troubling concentration of power in the hands of the federal government, contrary to intentions of the founders of our Constitution.

Montana’s medical marijuana community was ravaged in March of 2011, when government-sanctioned thugs, under the guise of public safety; dramatically (agents wore hazmat suits and were armed with machine guns) raided the businesses and homes of medical cannabis growers and patients across the state.  Patients were thrown to the ground, handcuffed and frightened; as they watched helplessly as officers from every unrelated government agency imaginable- from the EPA to OSHA- seized assets, destroyed plants and medicine, and confiscated confidential medical records of tens of thousands of Montana’s ill.  Although several indictments have resulted from investigations associated with the raids, the vast majority of them will happen in coming weeks and many Montanans will question the logic and morality of imprisoning professional and otherwise law abiding productive citizens for mandatory minimum sentences of 35 years or more.  Because the federal government continues to maintain the absurd “Reefer Madness“-esque policies of 1937, juries won’t ever hear that the defendants were in compliance with state medical marijuana laws.  The juries won’t hear Obama’s campaign speeches promising to stop prosecuting patients in states with medical marijuana laws.  The juries won’t likely read the infamous Ogden memo, the one that changed the medical marijuana world.  What will they hear?  They will hear chilling tales of money laundering, organized crime, distribution of dangerous drugs, and conspiracy- and by legal definition- each defendant is likely guilty.  Jurors will be advised that based on the evidence presented- not personal opinions of the law itself- a verdict must be reached. What about when the offense itself inspires far less horror than its punishment?

One of the government’s best kept secrets, sadly; is that juries not only have the power, but the right to acquit when the law is clearly unjust.  Although the courts won’t advise juries of this additional option, termed jury nullification; it has been recognized since the founding of our nation, as one last check in our system of checks and balances to protect us from unjust laws and tyranny. Jury nullification generally refers to a jury’s decision to acquit a defendant even though the jurors believe the accused to be factually guilty of the crime.

Increased use of jury nullification historically portends change on the horizon. Almost universally unknown among jurors, this option in the hands of an informed jury could easily tip the scales of justice in favor of reforming irrational statutes. .  Despite the court’s consistent refusal to inform juries of their veto power, the use of jury nullification was a major factor in the end of prohibition of alcohol, the repeal of the 18th amendment..   In December of 2010, Montana witnessed an extreme example, a sort of pre-jury nullification, termed the “great Montana marijuana mutiny” when Missoula prosecutors were unable to seat a jury willing to convict the defendant who had been charged with possession of only a few measly grams of cannabis.

Trials of defendants charged with marijuana crimes are prime candidates for future use of jury nullification.  Despite documented evidence supporting the substance’s medical use, a 6000+ year history of safety, and state laws providing for its use, the federal government has refused to remove cannabis from the dreaded list of dangerous Schedule I narcotics and has participated in a deadly bait and switch with America’s ill.  A majority of citizens are no longer willing to accept the propaganda supporting the failed “war on drugs” and are well aware that in reality, it is a war on us.

Education is key.  As is, the chances a jury will acquit my friends who will be soon indicted and convicted quickly in the court of public opinion are very slim.  Perhaps if members of juries were more informed, our legislators would lack the audacity to force their personal “morality” on the state.  For more information on jury nullification, check out the website of Fully Informed Jury Association, an activist group founded by two Montanans. September 5 is Jury Rights Day, in commemoration of the William Penn case in 1670 which firmly established protection for the jury, and firmly established the right of the jurors to refuse to accept bad government laws.  Celebrate by writing a letter to the editor to educate the public. Educate your friends.  When you receive a summons for jury duty, consider it an opportunity, not a punishment.  We need more informed jurors.

Jury nullification is not a right, but a RESPONSIBILITY. We only have a duty to obey and uphold just laws that promote peace, tranquility, and the common good. We have no obligation to uphold laws that favor special interests, corrupt politicians, or self-serving bureaucrats. Jury nullification is the last peaceful means of defending our Constitution- and the effects are permanent as the fifth amendment  prevents trying the defendant again.

Montanans placed medical marijuana on the ballot in 2004 because the legislature failed to do so, and 62% voted to approve its use.  The legislature ignored the issue for a few sessions until enough tea people had been elected that they knew they could force their social agenda upon the entire state.  The federal government is clearly complicit, as once again, promises of the Obama administration have been broken. We continue to spend billions of dollars imprisoning non-violent marijuana offenders. I have no hope for our federal or state governments, my bets are on the people.  We need to nullify the entire war on drugs and stop our government from taking our friends as political prisoners. The founding fathers would certainly agree.

Jurors should acquit, even against the judge’s instruction…if exercising their judgement with discretion and honesty they have a clear conviction the charge of the court is wrong.
– Alexander Hamilton, 1804

It is not only the juror’s right, but his duty to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgement and conscience, though in direct opposition to the instruction of the court.
–John Adams, 1771

I consider trial by jury as the only anchor yet imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.
– Thomas Jefferson, 1789

It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made
by men of their choice, if the laws are so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they… undergo such incessant changes that no man who knows what the law is today can guess what it will be tomorrow.
– James Madison

Humble “Public Servant” Jeff Essmann’s Exploratory Gubernatorial Committee Wants Your Input


At last, Montana’s infamous cannabis abolitionist-senator Jeff Essmann wants to clear up some rumors he’s been hearing because you, the voters, “deserve more than rumors”.  He’d like you to know that he is “actively considering a run for Governor in 2012.”  I’ve always considered consideration to be rather passive in nature, but Essmann’s sort is apparently active.   In the following letter Senator Jeff Essmann sent to voters on August 12, he refers to himself as a “public servant“, the shepherd of a conservative balanced budget, chairman of this, leader of that, blah blah blah.  He implies that the other candidates are can-kickers who lack the leadership qualities he epitomizes.  I’ve included images of both sides of this roughly-written letter (note to Essmann:  a speech/letter/legislation writer is in order) so you can enjoy it as much as I.

Jeff Essmann WANTS TO HEAR FROM YOU!!

Here is his contact information.                                                                                       406.534.3345                                                                                              jeff@jeffessmann.com                                                                                                            PO Box 80945                                                                                                                    Billings, MT  59108

Highlights for me:  He never voted for a state budget that increased government spending.  Nope, he increased YOUR spending on taxes.  I don’t know about you, but I just LOVE taxes.  In light of the number of unemployed Montanans Essmann’s legislation created, it warmed my heart to read that his annual coat drive has provided 90,000 winter coats to the needy.  Guess I know where we will be getting our coats this winter.  He mentions that his willingness to take on the toughest of challenges is a trait we need in our next governor.  Let’s see here.  He had four sessions to deal with regulating the medical marijuana industry.  He waited until the very last minute of the very last day of the very last session, when he forced dumped his hot mess, SB-423, on the laps of Montana’s elderly and ill.  Sounds courageous.

Mrs. Knox’s Under-Frocks


First of all, let me offer a pre-apology for this post.  You will understand after reading it.

Mr and Mrs Knox were getting ready for their big move to another state.  Apparently, Mrs. Knox forgot some key garments in her luggage and needed to borrow some from her hubby, our favorite tea person legislator, Rep. James Knox, who proudly represents the Billings Heights.  Shhhh…. don’t tell Alicia although I’m sure she won’t mind.  James Knox… always the gentleman.

“Running on Empty” Speaker Jeff Essmann Runs From Constituents


Earlier this week, I received several invitations to the Billings stop of the “Running on Empty” bus tour by Americans for Prosperity.  Slated to speak at the event were Sen. Jeff Essmann (author of the infamous “black market” marijuana bill, SB423), Rep. Tom McGillvray (who at at an RLCC fundraiser stated that Montana was wasting its money on meth prevention as our real problem in Montana is medical marijuana) and Rep. Krayton Kerns, who pretends to be more constitutional and liberty-minded than he is in reality. The guest speakers were greeted by far more protesters than conservative supporters. Someone in the crowd called McGillvray a “commie”, Kerns was asked if he’d returned his federal farm subsidy welfare check and the cowardly star speaker, Jeff Essmann, couldn’t be bothered to attend. Prior to the event, representatives from the Ken Miller for Governor campaign were overheard calling to warn others of the opposition. Why are so many candidates for governor afraid of their constituents?  Opponents of McGillvray and Kerns outnumbered supporters at least 3 to 1 although some reports indicated that over 100 protesters attended while 20 or so were friendly.

Where’s Essmann?

Essmann may have been home analyzing the results of the recent solicitiation letters he sent to constituents as he explores a potential Gubernatorial bid.  Oddly enough, he omitted authoring SB423 in the lengthy resume’ he included in the letters.  He has repeatedly claimed that droves of his constituents begged and pleaded for a repeal of Montana’s medical marijuana law, so it does seem strange that he didn’t mention let alone herald that particular accomplishment. Perhaps he was using medical marijuana. Oh yes, that’s right, he has never done such a thing…. or has he?    Perhaps Essmann was home proposing legislation for the biggest tax increases in Montanans’ lifetimes.  Oh, never mind.  He already did that! Maybe he was providing statements to police, hoping to ensure a newly unemployed cannabis caregiver would be charged with a violation of the dreaded “privacy in communications act”.  Yeah, he already did that too.  Perhaps Essmann was out looking for Rep. James Knox, word on the street is that he’d like him to be his lieutenant governor.  Unfortunately for Essmann, Knox is apparently planning to leave the state, presumably taking his $733/mo in health benefits, compliments of Montana taxpayers, with him.

Anyway, back to the Americans for Prosperity event.  I wasn’t in attendance, but reports of McGillvray and Kerns being loudly booed were consistent.  One Republican politician- who actually lobbied Essmann and company to abandon plans for repeal in favor of thoughtful legislation during the session- left early because he was uncomfortable with the number of union thugs shouting down the speakers.  He said that he was not there to support the speakers but to support the local effort to elect new leaders who understand the need to live within our means and recognize that over-regulating is not the conservative way. Josh Daniels, an outspoken advocate for patients’ rights as well as a member of Patients for Reform, Not Repeal , said  “Overall it was a sad showing for them.  As a libertarian I do agree with the general concept, but the MT Tea Party is working for a nanny state with the LDS church on cannabis regulation.”  Mr. Daniels held a sign that read “SB423, Welcome Back Blackmarket”.

The Bozeman and Helena stops on the bus tour Thursday afternoon were also attended by a sizable group of protesters.  Friday’s stops include Kalispell, as well as the liberal university city of Missoula.  Similar events in Florida last week drew smaller than expected crowds. Perhaps Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group funded by the libertarian Koch brothers, should do a little research on their prospective speakers. I’m pretty sure that a speech by Republican Representative Mike Miller wouldn’t have drawn such opposition.

Most of those in attendance cited the need for jobs in Montana.  Note:  McGillvray, Kerns and Essmann all voted to eliminate the thousands of jobs in Montana’s medical cannabis industry.  Times certainly have changed since the last conservative bus tour stop in Billings. When then-GOP chairman Michael Steele brought the “Fire Pelosi” bus tour to Billings prior to the 2010 elections, hundreds of smiling and cheering supporters attended the event and I don’t recall seeing even one protester.  If only we had known then what sort of fools we were electing to represent us.

Know Your Place, Shut Your Face.


Last week, in hopes of providing some much needed publicity for IR-124, I sent the following letter to the editor to 28 small town newspapers in Eastern Montana.  

During Montana’s 2011 legislative session, 113 of our elected representatives, in direct contradiction of the expressed will of 62% of the people, imposed their personal social agenda on the rest of Montana by approving a repeal of Montana’s medical marijuana law. The lawmakers, after neglecting in several sessions to draft thoughtful reform legislation, approved Sen Jeff Essmann’s 33 page repeal bill and proudly announced to the 276,042 Montana voters who approved the state’s original law (I-148) that they were simply fulfilling voter intent.  To combat this legislative action, the IR-124 campaign was launched. If successful, Montana voters will have the opportunity in 2012 to vote on this unpopular- and recently ruled unconstitutional- piece of legislation. 

What happened to the will of the people?  This is an opportunity to assert your rights as a Montana citizen.  A legislative repeal of a citizens initiative sets a dangerous precedent and regardless of how Montanans actually feel about medical marijuana, it is difficult to understand how ANY could argue against empowering voters by allowing them to choose the fate of the law.  Time will tell whether this was or wasn’t what Montanans voted for, but “voter intent” should be decided by voters. 

If you are interested in helping with our efforts, would like to sign the petition, or desire more information, we’d love to hear from you. Visit our website, patientsforreform.org,   call Randy or Darcy Warburton, (trained Sheridan County petitioners) at406.580.5046 or me at  406.208.0204

While some of the editors responded almost immediately to express their interest and willingness to print the letter, others, not surprisingly; said nothing. For those of you who may not know, I grew up in Sheridan County, Montana (where you can see both Canada and North Dakota from your porch) and earlier this week, I accepted a job offer and moved somewhat reluctantly to Plentywood.  While I’m happy to be closer to my family, I am not looking forward to the harsh realities of life up here- like the brutal winters and the ever-present small town ignorance.  Which takes me back to my letter….

I’ve written a few letters to the editor in my life and although mine have virtually always been printed, I’ve learned a bit about the process through the years… most newspapers have a few guidelines, many have a word limit- often 250 or less- and most require authentication of the letter- either via call, email, or letter.  I know most of the people who work for the local newspaper, The Sheridan County News, so it wasn’t surprising to hear that the newspaper had refused to sell ad space to a caregiver on several occasions.  Although I don’t necessarily approve of such policies, I gave the management the benefit of the doubt and attempted to convince myself that  their decisions were based on their ignorant self-righteousness, not a conscious desire to foster propaganda.  Yesterday, a couple of my friends asked Joe Nistler, the editor of the newspaper, if he planned to run the letter.  His response was that he was NOT going to run it because-and I QUOTE- “we already have enough potheads in this county”.   Although I admit that Nistler is HARDLY considered influential by anyone, his thinly veiled attempts to influence readers subtly with headlines- like “Big Rigger Writes Own Songs” and “Roads Here Tested by Big Rigs”… yes, I see a small pattern developing,  indicate that Mr Nistler is likely a spineless epitome of cowardice who occasionally gets an ego boost from wielding a bit of judgment those he considers immoral- or something. Perhaps his actions aren’t malicious.  Perhaps he genuinely desires to save us all from ourselves. I’m far more concerned about saving myself from our government and protecting my daughter from this sort of pervasive ignorance.  Most weeks,, the newspaper contains  at least one kitschy “Remember when….” post, a macro shot of some fetching young lentils, or a collection of boring  images from decades ago… in addition to the primary reason many current and former Sheridan County residents still subscribe to the weekly newspaper…. that’s right, the police blotter, where the accused are proven instantly guilty through the court of public opinion, whether or not they were convicted of their alleged crimes.  

I find it sad that some of the staff at the Sheridan County News, who by the very nature of their field, should be first amendment crusaders,  are not only unwilling to print opinion pieces contrasting their own, they apparently have no interest in allowing their readers to weigh the facts and decide for themselves. My letter to the editor wasn’t promoting drug use- I’m not a patient nor do I use marijuana recreationally.  I simply recognize tyranny when I see it and I have no problem calling out my own party.  Sheridan County, with the rest of Montana, deserves an opportunity to make an informed decision. It is disappointing that the morality enforcement division of the local newspaper doesn’t trust their own friends and family to vote properly after being armed with the facts.  The SCOTUS as well as state Supreme Courts recognize that there is no more purer form of free speech than gathering signatures, refusing to cover our campaign- regardless of personal opinions on cannabis- indicates a vacuum of journalistic integrity. 

*It is worth noting that although we certainly aren’t  in competition,  the weekly and often the DAILY circulation of  montanafesto (which is less than a year old) is higher than the weekly circulation of the Sheridan County News.  Perhaps I will start running obituaries and a police blotter on the blog, readership would certainly skyrocket as the self-righteous tend to feed on the tragedies of others.


Thwarting the Tyrannical Minority: IR-124


During Montana’s 2011 legislative session, 113 of our elected representatives, in direct contradiction of the expressed will of the people, imposed their self-righteous puritanical views on the rest of us by approving SB 423. The lawmakers, after refusing to draft thoughtful legislation,approved Sen Jeff Essmann’s 33 page medical marijuana repeal bill and proudly announced to the  276,042 Montana voters who approved the state’s original law (I-148) that they were fulfilling voter intent.  Voters, patients and growers, however; were not convinced and have launched an initiative referendum campaign to refer SB 423 to Montana voters for rejection or approval.  IR-124, depending on the number of signatures obtained; has the potential to suspend SB 423 until November of 2012.

GET INVOLVED! This is an opportunity to assert your rights as a Montana citizen.  Legislators need to be reminded that they work for us and that we the people decide their political futures.  Repealing a citizens initiative sets a dangerous precedent and regardless of how Montanans actually feel about medical marijuana, it is difficult to understand how ANY could argue against empowering voters by allowing them to choose.  If we had trusted the legislature to act on our wishes, we would have never had a medical marijuana program in Montana yet a resounding 62% voted to approve it.  Time will tell whether this was or wasn’t what Montanans voted for.

If you are interested in helping with the effort to place IR-124 on the ballot, we’d love to hear from you. Visit our website, Patients for Reform, Not Repeal.  Training is required prior to gathering signatures so contact a zone coordinator or trainer and we will reserve a spot for you in one of our training sessions.

CONTACT INFO FOR PETITION TRAINERS:

SW Zone, Missoula/BRoot: Gabe McMurray at Sweetwater Caregivers at gabertoothtiger@gmail.com , phone number: 541-0420, Sweetwater also on Facebook

 NW Zone, Flathead area: James Blair, at jimmy1@neverhaulwateragain.com​ , also on Facebook as Jimmy   NC Zone, Great Falls area: Jessica Johnson mylittlebuggaboo@hotmail.com , 564-2667, and Grant Grenfell, here2headbang69@hotmail.com

SE Zone, Billings area: Elizabeth Springman at Elizabeth_Springman@yahoo.com 697-1810, and James Haneyheavenscentcannabis@gmail.com 670-0143

SCentral, Livingston, Big Sky, or Bozeman: Monica Blanchard in Livingston at ccofmt@gmail.com, 333-2622, or Charles Gaillard in Big Sky atjoinergroup@aol.com386-931-9334 ,and Dante Bonanin in Bozeman at bonusattheboz@hotmail.com

Central, Helena/Butte: Barb Trego at BarbsGoats@aol.com, 459-6247, and in Butte: Tawnya LaFond at TKiliayaRose1@aol.com 490-4273

Eastern Zone, Havre, Plentywood, Miles City, Glendive, Terry, Jordan, Circle, Glasgow, Wolf Point, Sidney, Broadus: Nicole French at NicoleFrench88@gmail.com 208-0204 and on Facebook.

Please consider making a financial contribution or give us a few hours of your time….the September 30 deadline for obtaining the necessary signatures is looming.

Saint Essmann: The Innocence of Malignant Narcissism


Thanks to Montana Cowgirl for picking up my slack…. Senator Jeff Essmann stammered while attempting to answer a question on Aaron Flint’s Voices of Montana this morning.  That question?  “Senator Essmann, have you ever smoked marijuana?” reminded me of the time Rep James Knox (RWNJ-Billings Heights) was asked if he’d ever sold drugs.   Unfortunately, I’m far too busy coordinating the eastern side of the state in the Patients for Reform, Not Repeal quest to actually fulfill voter intent by allowing the actual voters to decide whether Jeff Essmann’s baby, SB 423 is a hot mess or a brilliant piece of legislation.  Hypocrisy reigns in the prohibition crowd….

I don’t really care if Essmann has smoked marijuana nor did I really care if President Clinton was receiving extra-curricular blowjobs, but I don’t appreciate liars- especially those who feed at the public trough. On the other hand, maybe Essmann is just that much of a dork. He could in fact be the only adult human being I’ve ever met who hasn’t tried marijuana… but I doubt it.

No Civility in this Disobedience


It doesn’t get much better than this…. although the entire video is umm, interesting; skip to the 21:00 mark to watch activists from Earth First! and Rising Tide North America’s display of disrespect. They literally DANCED on the governor’s reception room table.  Protesters also chanted slogans and scaled flagpoles as they made it clear they take their Big Oil hatred very seriously.

The civil disobedience team was called to defuse the situation.  Though the team, which includes a dozen Lewis and Clark County sheriffs deputies and Helena police has existed since 2007, their services were never utilized prior to this event.  Five arrests occurred after a group chain locked themselves together outside the governor’s office.

This juvenile display seemed far more media and attention-driven than rooted in a sincere desire to evoke change. The protesters wasted an opportunity with their desired audience, Montana’s media and Governor Schweitzer; to present their message effectively and no doubt lost any credibility they may have previously had.

I apologize for the lazy post, this spectacle deserves more commentary, but I’m stretched rather thin this week, so it will have to suffice.

The Ascent of Propaganda


I found the Sidney Herald’s recent article about recent changes to laws governing Montana’s medical cannabis program factually inaccurate  and feel compelled to offer the following clarifications, which I also sent as a over-the-word-limit letter to the editor which we will never likely see in print: 

1. Montana’s Constitution allows for a process in which voters may place an act of the Legislature on the ballot as a referendum if interested parties submit a petition that is signed by at least 5% of the registered voters in at least 34 House districts and by 5% of the voters statewide.  To actually overturn the offending act of the legislature prior to the next general election, signatures from 15% of 51 house districts must be obtained.  Otherwise, the law stays in effect until voters weigh in on the ballot.  Patients for Reform, Not Repeal will not be seeking signatures from an additional 5% of registered voters as the article suggested.  

2.  Marijuana remains a  schedule I narcotic under federal law and cannot be legally dispensed by pharmacists.  Physicians cannot write a “prescription”, but can write a “recommendation”.  The statement by Sidney Health Center’s CEO about the hospital’s pharmacy having a policy of not carrying medical marijuana isn’t so much policy as it is law.  No pharmacies carry medical marijuana although a few receive it monthly to dispense to the limited number of patients enrolled in the federal government’s medical marijuana program.  `

 
3.  SB 423 limits a patient’s number of mature flowering plants to four while allowing twelve “seedlings”.  The ruling by Judge Reynolds did not overturn this provision.  I-148 allowed six plants/patient.  The new law differentiates between seedlings and mature plants using height, which is not at all indicative of maturity.  The article claimed that the plant limit provision was enjoined by Judge Reynolds.  This is not the case. 

4.  The statement “Medical marijuana providers, under the ruling, can continue to operate under many of the rules approved by voters in 2004 until a full case can be heard.” isn’t true.  In fact, nearly all of the draconian provisions of SB 423 remain, with the exception of the following which were enjoined in a temporary injunction issued by Judge Reynolds: provisions barring advertising and sale of medicine by providers, provisions limiting patients to a maximum of three, provisions subjecting providers and patients to random searches by law enforcement and requiring physicians who recommend cannabis for 25 or more patients to be investigated by the state medical board at their own expense.  

While much of the article involves some distant version of the truth, veracity shouldn’t have versions.  The media has a solemn responsibility to report facts and to accurately relay events as they happen, to do otherwise is to foster propaganda. 

Nicole French

Eastern Zone Coordinator

Patients for Reform Not Repeal Referendum Initiative

Smaller Government Advocates Wasting Our Money


Once again, I’m going to put out a call to Montana’s Republicans to stop embarrassing me.  This is a conservative blog and I’m tired of ranting about the actions of those on my own side. Former GOP Chair Jake Eaton and Billings City Council hopeful Jennifer Olsen have lost their vital complaint against Senator Kendall Van Dyk for allegedly violating campaign finance and practices laws by posting…… GASP……… a photo of his own completed absentee ballot.   Olsen, who is a co-founder of Montana Shrugged, a group of factually challenged tea people; often screams for “SMALLER GOVERNMENT” yet apparently felt it would be acceptable use of taxpayer dollars to investigate this dreadful alleged crime.  Jake Eaton and Jennifer Olsen…. they actually make quite a team.

Montana’s Office of Political Practices is reportedly understaffed and overworked… one would think that smaller government advocates would refrain from wasting limited resources on petty complaints, but then again, we are talking about Eaton and Olsen.  Olsen  filed to run in a thankfully contested race for Billings City Council ,Ward 5 shortly after being soundly defeated in a bid to become vice-Chair of the Republican Party.

The Obama Administration’s Schizophrenic Marijuana Policy: Ogden, Haag, and Cole


Prior to his election, Obama had a reasonable outlook on medical marijuana

“I don’t think that should be a top priority of us, raiding people who are using … medical marijuana. With all the things we’ve got to worry about, and our Justice Department should be doing, that probably shouldn’t be a high priority.” — June 2, 2007, town hall meeting in Laconia, New Hampshire

“You know, it’s really not a good use of Justice Department resources.” — responding to whether the federal government should stop medical marijuana raids, August 13, 2007, town hall meeting in Nashua, New Hampshire

Nearly year after Obama was elected President, his administration, with great fanfare; released the Ogden memo. The memo essentially informed US Attorneys that the US government wouldn’t be focusing federal resources on the prosecution of individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.  As a result of this policy shift, the number of legal medical marijuana patients increased substantially in states allowing the use of medical marijuana.

On February 1, 2011, US Attorney Melinda Haag sent what is now known as the “Haag Memo”, to John Russo, Oakland City Attorney in response to Russo’s request of clarification of the federal stance. From the memo:

We will enforce the CSA (Controlled Substances Act) vigorously against individuals and organizations that participate in unlawful manufacturing and distribution activity involving marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law…. . ….Others who knowingly facilitate the actions of the licensees, including property owners, landlords, and financiers should also know that their conduct violates federal law.

Although hardly publicized, the Haag memo is consistent with federal action the following month:

On Wednesday, for the second time in this year, the Obama administration released a memo on  medical marijuana, the text of which can be viewed here.  This memo purports to provide clarification of previous memos yet seems more like a warning to anyone involved in any level of cannabusiness.  The text of the memo seems to acknowledge that state-sanctioned use of medical cannabis is alright, but good luck obtaining it, because the federal government is waging a war against those who grow it.  This clarification certainly clears things up.

Americans were accustomed to raids under the Bush administration, but Obama promised a different approach, giving a very false sense of security to cannabis patients.  In reality, Obama is on target to in four years, double the number of raids under 8 years of the Bush administration.  At least Bush’s actions were consistent with his words.  Some are speculating that US Atty Holder or rogue US Attys are acting without authorization, but launching raids IS policy and the number, scope, and focus of these violent raids suggests that they are orchestrated from the top.

How’s your badass president now?  I’ve had enough “change”  Perhaps it is time for a President whose actions are consistent with his words, has a decades long history of consistent messages and dedication to individual liberties, constitutional government and sound monetary policy.  Or maybe not.  Maybe you prefer wondering if federal agents will gun down your children as well as your dogs in the next early morning raid.  H.R. 2306, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act is currently in Congress.  To urge your Representatives and Senators to support this historic legislation, use this handy web form.

Trouble in Senator Essmann’s Bubble



Despite Essmann’s confident assertion that his new black market marijuana law is entirely constitutional, Judge Reynolds today issued a ruling today temporarily striking nearly all of the components of the law the MTCIA  considered unconstitutional, overly burdensome, or entirely unreasonable. The ruling places patient access and provider ability somewhere in the murky area between fully upholding Montana’s new medical marijuana law, SB423 which was set to take effect July 1 and temporarily nullifying the legislation in its entirety. Available here, the ruling in favor of the medical marijuana industry, successfully enjoined several provisions. Three of those provisions were voluntarily ceded by the state during the  legal proceedings last week (patient limits, warrantless searches, and the ban of advertising).  The others are as follows:

The Good

  • Providers can thankfully still charge patients for their medicine. SB 423, cannabis donation legislation, required that providers receive no compensation of any sort.  The judge found this expectation unprecedented.   “The court is unaware of and has not been shown where any person in any other licensed and lawful industry in Montana – be he a barber, an accountant, a lawyer or a doctor – who, providing a legal product or service, is denied the right to charge for that service or is limited in the number of people he or she can serve,” Reynolds wrote.
  • No board of medical examiners investigations for physicians recommending cannabis to 25 or more patients in a 12 month period. SB 423 required doctors to pay for their own mandatory investigations after recommending 25 or more patients in a year.
  • Unannounced searches:  This component was ruled unconstitutional and providers and patients will not be subject to the warrantless searches required by SB 423.
  • Advertising ban: This was ruled unconstitutional and will not take effect July 1.  Caregivers/providers are still able to advertise.  I wouldn’t advertise at this point, however; as I believe laying low is rather important during this transition period.
  • Patient limits: This component has been stricken.  Providers are free to have as many patients as  they desire. (SB 423 called for 3 patients maximum)
The Bad
  • To those on probation:  Probationers’ cards apparently are now void until we are able to obtain the signatures to repeal this law.  The faster we accomplish this feat, the more quickly we can suspend ALL of SB 423, not just the components ruled unconstitutional today.  If you have the resources, I’d suggest looking into a lawsuit to ensure the same health care access as other Montanans.  Keep in mind, I’m not an attorney however and cannot give legal advice.
The Ugly
Here is the real problem….unfortunately, we have a glitch in the transition period between being “caregivers” under I-148 and “providers” under SB 423.
  • There is no current provision in the law protecting cultivators from arrest as of midnight tonight.  It does appear, however; that the judge intends for commercial activity, legal cannabis commerce to commence and essentially this appears to be a bureaucratic oversight. But…. we don’t know.  We are hopeful this legal limbo period will be cleared up by the Department of Health and Human Services, but of course; this isn’t a guarantee.  We cannot tell you that you won’t be arrested.  Some activists are suggesting providers arrive in Helena tomorrow to sign up to become a “provider” rather than a “caregiver”.  Please be very careful in the meantime.
  •   Another wrinkle is that the new law requires “providers” be named as such, meaning there is a possibility that we won’t be able to transition to the new status until patients actually NAME us as their provider, but we are hopeful that the DHHS will assist in any way possible.  There is an allowance for a short transition period in the new law which allows “providers” to bypass the FBI background check and fingerprint requirements if they are accepted as “providers” prior to October.  Anyone intending to become a provider is encouraged to avoid these requirements, unless of course; you feel comfortable essentially sending the federal government notification that you intend to break their laws as well as an address to locate you for arrest. But that’s just me….
What Now?
I’m very confident that we will obtain the signatures required to overturn SB 423 completely but it won’t be easy, especially in a state the size of Montana. We have to do so by September 30. We need all of the help we can get, so if you haven’t yet; please sign up at mtcia.org.  We need assistance at every level- from those only willing to sign the petition to those who will serve as county or house district captains.
Keep in mind, there are MANY Montanans who are neither patients or providers helping with this effort.  Our state government sought to overturn the will of Montana voters (62% of us voted to approve the medical use of cannabis back in 2004) and every Montanan should be concerned about this.
*Participating in this important process does not brand you as a marijuana user/proponent/grower/millionaire (ha).  In fact, I’m not currently a patient or caregiver/provider. I stand to gain nothing from overturning SB 423, yet I’m coordinating the entire Eastern zone (which doesn’t even include the county in which I reside), assisting with management and coordination of gatherers in my county and house district, participating in my area MTCIA committee, running Montanafesto, and mothering my beautiful 13 year old mini-me political activist daughter.  None of us are being paid for our efforts and we are working our asses off to ensure patients have safe consistent access as I believe we all (yes, even Republicans) have a responsibility as human beings to help our disabled and infirm.  We are also working to ensure cultivators have a livelihood, so consider helping us help you. *
 You may not care about marijuana, but what about your second amendment rights?  How will you feel if the government decides to enact onerous legislation restricting your use or possession of firearms?  What if your industry is deemed “immoral” or “not what Montanans voted for”?  How will you feel then? If our legislature can overturn a citizen’s initiative passed by so many voters, what sort of message are we sending our already apathetic youth?  It is high time that Montanans start defending our rights, defending our constitution, and defending those of us who aren’t able to defend ourselves.
We are sorely in need of financial assistance as this was only the beginning of this battle.  We have an incredible legal team, but that sort of representation is very expensive. Due to anxiety over the new law, we’ve had a difficult time fundraising the past few weeks.  Now that we have a partial victory, please consider donating to our cause.  We currently owe our legal team a large sum of money. Click on the “donate” tab at mtcia.org- even if you can only spare a few bucks.  If anyone has any fundraising ideas, non-monetary donations, etc, feel free to contact any member of the mtcia board or to leave a message for me here (montanafesto@live.com). Thanks so much to those who have donated not only financially but with their time and talents.  This is a team effort and we are all making history.  Prohibition has a long history of failure, which side of history are you on?
Any questions?  I will do my best to answer queries in the comments or via email.
RAIDS: **warning**
There are rumors that federal raids will be occurring through the first week in July. I cannot confirm the validity of these claims, but please be careful.  Assert your rights as American citizens.  Barring presentation of a valid warrant, don’t allow law enforcement to enter your premises. 
There is, as I write, a federal and state raid occurring in Montana right now, reportedly in Missoula.  There is reportedly nothing atypical about it- plants are being seized, as well as inventory and equipment.  Don’t regard these growers are criminals- it could just as easily be any one of us.  In fact, it appears the most visible and compliant growers have actually been the ones raided.  There is, however; no pattern to the raids.  Some small growers have been raided because of connections to larger growers.  Most are dispensaries, but some were delivery only.  Don’t think for one moment that you are safe- you aren’t.  
Maintaining a total plant limit of under 100 may be beneficial. Please use common sense…. Be as close to invisible as possible.  No newspaper ads emblazoned with marijuana images, no Jason Christ-like tactics like smoking from a massive water bong on the Capitol lawn.  We are a professional but controversial industry so acceptance requires compromise.  

Pardon me, media…. your bias is showing


Thomas Jefferson once said,

“The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing, but newspapers.”

Jefferson’s assessment certainly rings true in Montana, especially when regarding the growing controversy of Montana’s medical marijuana industry and the 62nd legislature’s de facto repeal of a citizen’s initiative legalizing medical use of cannabis.  Irresponsible and disrespectful newspaper headlines continue to read “Medical pot industry group asks judge to halt law“, “Arguments to conclude in medical pot hearing“, We didn’t elect GOP to ax medical pot“, you get the hint.   Is it so difficult to call it “cannabis”? I can’t recall seeing headlines in the same publications crying “Mr. Smith arrested for slinging oxy/dillies/percs/80s/beans/ludes” or “Dr. Doe raided after shooting smack in surgery”.  Regardless of how the media FEELS about cannabis, their job is to report the news, not exhibit incredible bias.

The media also continues to mislead readers with posts like the following, which was taken from KULR8′s Twitter account.

 

 

 

 

State Senator Jeff Essmann, known for passing the biggest tax increases in Montana history; continues to assert that his legislation removed the profit from the industry, effectively portraying the medical cannabis industry as profit mongering.  Suggesting that the new law makes cannabis providers non-profit entities is a blatant misrepresentation.  The new law essentially eliminates all providers by economically crippling them.  Providers are unable to accept any sort of renumeration for their service.  This means that providers are forced to give away their product, wisdom, time, etc.  Growers cannot be reimbursed for costs incurred with growing (electricity, security, etc), supplies, or equipment. This isn’t a non-profit marijuana law, this is  compulsory NO PAY, medical cannabis donation legislation.This isn’t an attempt to remove the profit, it is a bid to entirely eliminate medical use of cannabis in the state.

From failure to report the actual amount of money seized in federal raids of cannabis providers (in one case, the total was $600 compared to the $1.2 million listed on the warrant) to using slang terms and outright lying to Montanans, our lawmakers and media are complicit and should be held accountable. Do your own research, always question and never blindly accept the media’s version of truth.

Overcriminalization and Montana: Marijuana Mecca?


A couple of weeks ago, I accompanied a friend to a local trial.  She’d been charged with a violation of Montana’s Privacy in Communications statute.  Never heard of it?  Join the club.  Here is an overview of my friend’s “crime”:  Late last year, “Jane” was enduring a difficult pregnancy and was on physician-ordered bed rest when she received paperwork detailing her 8 year old son’s father’s intent to sue her for full custody.  Considering the case was filed out-of-state and the father had not once seen his son since his birth, she was understandably upset.  After leaving messages with several attorneys, she decided to call the local courthouse to ask about the legal procedures involved with such a case.  The clerk of court told Jane that she was unable to provide legal advice, but Jane assured her she wasn’t looking for any- she simply wanted to understand the process.  The clerk told her in no uncertain terms- at least four times- that she COULD NOT PROVIDE LEGAL ADVICE.  Jane, sensing a communications disconnect, asked to speak with anyone else in the office.  The clerk asked if she was referring to her “boss”, to which Jane replied “well, sure… I suppose.  I’d just like to speak with someone else”.  The clerk proceeded to inform Jane that she had no boss because she was an elected official.  Considering the circumstances leading to this conversation, Jane was already rather upset and the clerk’s bully-like behavior sent her over the edge.  She asked “Am I supposed to kiss your ass because you are an elected official?”  The conversation ended soon after and Jane received a call later that day that the police would like her to drive into town to collect her citation for violation of the privacy in communications statute.  She retained an attorney and was confident the charge would disappear.  It didn’t.  After an afternoon at the courthouse, she was convicted of the charge.  She was fined $600, given ten days in jail (although suspended) and ordered to anger management classes at her own expense.  She had no criminal record whatsoever.  Although I have no idea what these officials are paid for their work, I silently began estimating the cost to taxpayers.  The judge, city attorney, clerk of court, two deputy clerks of court, and a police officer were all present for the entire trial- which lasted nearly four hours…. all to prosecute my friend.  It occurred to me that the local government was exploiting justice to justify their employment and fund the bureaucracy.

Some states, like California; are making laws to avoid jail for non-violent offenders but in Montana, selling marijuana can get you a life sentence.  Homosexuals who recruit others to become homosexuals can spend 10 years in prison for that offense.  In 1970, there were fewer than 200,000 people in jail or prison in the United States.  Currently, there are between two and three million and our incarceration rate- nearly 800/100,000 is the highest documented rate in the world.  The size and scope of criminal law- on all levels- has exploded yet the quality of the law has deteriorated.  While traditional law focused on inherently wrong behavior, today we see countless examples of economically or socially beneficial laws under the guise of “justice”.

While my friend’s behavior was not respectful of the clerk of court’s position, was it really a CRIME?  Should we feel safer knowing that Jane, instead of investing in her new business or paying off medical bills after a difficult pregnancy is paying the city court because she said the word “ass” on the phone?

An elderly orchid gardener was raided by a SWAT team after failing to obtain the proper forms and documents necessary when importing orchids.  Although the orchids were legal, he is now a federal criminal.  The United States imprisoned an elderly diabetic for two years because of paperwork inadequacies.

In another case, an elderly grandmother faced a high-profile court battle after being cited because two bushes in her yard were over two feet tall. In addition to a fine, she faced significant jail time after her bushes had grown beyond acceptable height while she battled cancer.

98% of all statistics are made up.  ~Author Unknown

In today’s Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Mark Long, head of the state’s US Justice Department Narcotics Bureau, makes the assertion that crime in Montana is up because of medical marijuana although statistics in every other publication claims that crime rates are down.

“All marijuana used to come from Mexico and Canada,” he said. “Now it’s Montana, Mexico and Canada.”….. Mark Long

Newsflash!! California, Montana has surpassed you in quantity and quality.  It is obviously a well-kept secret considering BC, Humboldt, and other areas famous for growing cannabis have faced little challenge, from Montana the Marijuana Mecca.  It seems that Mr Long is more upset that he isn’t able to prosecute medical marijuana crimes anymore…. because they are no longer crimes.  These abuses of power are all connected. Create more laws, create more criminals.  That equals job security for Mark and his law enforcement friends.

Repealing the “Black Market” Bill: A Preliminary Guide to Process and Procedure


Confused about the status of SB 423, Senator Jeff Essmann’s bill to eliminate safe access to medical cannabis in Montana? The following provides background into Montana’s initiative, referendum, and repeal process.

SB 423 Monitoring: Montana Marijuana Act Initiative Referendum to Overturn Law Prepared for the Children, Families, Health, and Human Services Interim Committee

Background

Within days after the 2011 legislative session ended, opponents of a bill that repeals Montana’s Medical Marijuana Act and replaces it with new provisions announced that they would try to place the new law before the voters in November 2012. The effort centers on a little-used practice in which Montanans may try to gather enough signatures from registered voters to place a law enacted by the Legislature on the ballot. If they succeed, voters then decide whether to retain or reject the law. At issue in this case is Senate Bill 423, which replaces the existing Medical Marijuana Act with more stringent provisions for individuals who use marijuana for debilitating medical conditions, the physicians who provide written certifications involving such use, and the individuals who grow or manufacture marijuana and related products. The Montana Cannabis Industry Association (Association) is sponsoring the proposal. The group hopes to gather enough signatures to not only place the law on the ballot, but also to suspend its implementation until the November 2012 election. How the Process Works The Montana Constitution allows for both an initiative process and a referendum process. Most voters tend to think of an initiative as an idea generated by a private group, which then gathers signatures to place the proposed law on the ballot. For example, three initiatives qualified for the November 2010 ballot — one to reduce interest rates charged by so-called “pay-day lenders”, another to prevent the imposition of a real estate transfer tax, and a third to change how some hunting licenses are granted. On the other hand, voters tend to think of referendums as a law that the Legislature passes but puts before the voters before it goes into effect, to make sure voters agree with the law. But the Montana Constitution also allows for a process in which voters may place an act of the Legislature on the ballot as a referendum if interested parties submit a petition that is signed by at least 5% of the registered voters in at least 34 House districts and by 5% of the voters statewide. The total number required is based on the number of votes cast for governor statewide and by House district in 2008. The proposal must go through the review process required for all ballot measures, including:                                                                                                                                   • submission of the proposed ballot statements and text to the Secretary of State;                • review of the ballot statements and text by the Legislative Services Division;                      • rejection, acceptance, or modification of the Legislative Services Division recommendations by the sponsor;                                                                                          • the sponsor’s submission the final ballot statements and text to the Secretary of State;    • review of the proposed ballot language by the Attorney General’s Office, including an opportunity for public comment; and                                                                                       • final issuance of the petition by the Secretary of State after the Attorney General’s Office has completed its review and found that the petition is “legally sufficient”. After those steps are completed, the sponsor may begin collecting signatures. An act referred to the ballot through the initiative process remains in effect until the election is held unless enough signatures are obtained to suspend it. That would occur if the Secretary of State certifies that at least 15% of the registered voters in each of at least 51 House districts signed the petition.

Timeline for the SB 423 Petition

The Secretary of State accepted the petition from the Association on May 12, starting the clock ticking on the various timelines for review.

. To date, the following events have occurred:

• May 26: The Legislative Services Division completed its review of the ballot statements and text and provided the sponsor with suggested changes.                                                 • May 31: The sponsor responded to the Legislative Services Division comments.               • June 1: The sponsor submitted the revised ballot statements and text to the Secretary of State.                                                                                                                                        • June 2: The Attorney General’s Office received the ballot language and text for review.    • June 6: The Attorney General’s Office asked the Governor’s Office of Budget and Program Planning to estimate the fiscal impact of SB 423. The Budget Office has 10 days to prepare a fiscal note. The Attorney General’s Office must complete its review by July 5. If it approves the proposal, the proposed ballot issue will be returned to the Secretary of State. That office will then provide the approved petition to the sponsor, who may begin gathering signatures at that time. Signed petitions may be submitted to county election officials until September 30. The county officials must certify the signatures and file the signed petitions and certified totals with the Secretary of State no later than October 28. If enough verified signatures have been gathered, the Secretary of State will certify to the Governor that the initiative referendum will appear on the November 2012 ballot and/or has been suspended. Petition sponsors must gather and submit 24,337 verified signatures, including signatures representing 5% of the registered voters in each of at least 34 House districts, to place the measure on the ballot. If they meet that threshold, they may then attempt to gather additional signatures to suspend the law until the November 2012 vote. Anywhere from 31,238 to 43,247 signatures are needed to suspend the law, depending on the House districts in which the signatures are gathered. If sponsors meet the requirements for either step sooner than Sept. 30 and enough verified signatures are on file with the Secretary of State’s Office before October 28, the measure could be certified for the ballot or be suspended before those deadlines occur.

To read legal filings thus far, click here.

To donate to this endeavor, visit the MTCIA‘s website.  Funding is critical as our legal dream team isn’t cheap.

Become the change you want to see: Sign up to help here.  Whether you are interested in being a county or house district captain, a signature gatherer, a notary, even if you simply would like to sign the petition, we would appreciate your help.  Our board, zone coordinators and committees are donating their already scarce  time and could use assistance.

I’m coordinating the Eastern Zone and personally need some help in the following countes:  Valley, Carter, Powder River, Prairie, Dawson, Garfield, McCone, Petroleum, Phillips, Fallon and Carbon.  Also in House Districts: 30,32,35,38,39, and 41. Please contact me ASAP if you can assist.  

A Montana Medical Cannabis Patient’s Introductory Guide to the Black Market


Montana is, as of June 1, 2011; issuing medical marijuana patient cards and renewals under emergency rules written by the DPHHS until July 1 when new regulations under SB 423 take effect. A troubling muddle of statements, clarifications, and retractions, Montana’s medical cannabis program is as confusing as ever and patients are looking for answers. Barring successful legal intervention prior to the new law’s inception, all patients will lose their current caregiver.  The patients who aren’t currently growing cannabis (I-148 allowed patients to grow their own in addition to selecting a caregiver to grow 6 plants on the patient’s behalf) will be forced to suffer needlessly until they either locate a altruistic nanny-approved grower (growers cannot be paid, all product is free) approved by the state or successfully complete the growth cycle of the plant (up to 6 months).

As transparency in the cannabis trade ends, illegal drug dealers across the state are expected to benefit from the new regulations. They are silently celebrating, raising prices, and preparing to retrieve the market share previously lost to the state’s legal medical cannabis industry. Many patients will inevitably turn to this segment of the population out of desperation and necessity.  Some already have after federal agencies began raiding Montana caregivers March 14, 2011. Stoners often find that locating a reliable and trustworthy black market purveyor of illegal substances is challenging so imagine the difficulty for Montana’s average stage IV elderly cancer patient.  Doing business with someone who operates in the illicit underworld presents many challenges which inspire me to offer the advice listed below. Note: Authorities in Montana have most likely provided confidential patient records/information to federal agencies.  At the very least, the state has failed to protect patients when federal agents have seized such records.  The federal government has been very inconsistent regarding marijuana policy and fewer patients are willing to expose themselves to the increased risk involved with becoming a cardholder. 

  • Contribute to MTCIA.  Hopefully someday, as a result of the group’s work, you won’t be forced to conduct clandestine transactions in dark alleys.  Considering you are suffering from a debilitating disease, you may be dead by that time, unfortunately.
  • Be discrete. If you absolutely must use the telephone, always operate on the assumption that it is tapped.  Don’t text or leave incriminating voice mail messages and don’t save the dealer’s number in your phone as “weed boy”.  If you must include “weed boy” in your contact list, consider using a legislator’s phone number for that contact.
  • Be polite.  Don’t complain about the price, you aren’t buying a used car. Blame prohibition, Montana’s 62nd legislature, or specifically, Senator Jeff Essmann for inflated prices.  Don’t be demanding.  Although Montana’s marijuana dealers aren’t typically murderous thugs, there are always exceptions and it is in your best interest to be friendly.
  •  Transactions require cash unless alternate arrangements have been made. Have exact change. No money back guarantees, no returns.  Trading for sex isn’t typical in the marijuana world, contrary to the testimony of Montana’s legislators.  When you prostitute yourself for cannabis, you are simply a slut.  Period.
  •  If you find a prompt, accommodating dealer who provides a good quality product at an acceptable price, consider yourself fortunate.  Tipping isn’t customary nor is it expected although it could definitely contribute to a copacetic (for some reason many dealers use that word) relationship with your new friend.
  • Lower your expectations.  Your experience will be nothing like a visit to your old dispensary.  Your dealer will probably not be punctual, so be patient. You will have fewer, if any; strain choices.
  • You may want to invest in a digital scale.  Ideally, the dealer will weigh the quantity in your presence, but if nothing else, weigh it when you get home.
  • If you are desperate, one-time transaction drug dealers can be located at jam band (Widespread Panic, The Allman Brothers, etc) shows and festivals.  Vendors often sell delicious medibles (cannabis cheesecake, anyone?) in addition to medicine and cool stoner accessories.  Arrive early (and I’m talking HOURS early) to hang out on the lot prior to the event.  Listen for  the words “nuggets”, “kind bud” , “phatty nugs”, “headies”, etc.  This may be difficult if you are elderly or disabled due to your disease.  Perhaps you could ask a legislator to assist, if this is the case.
  • Although possession of larger quantities carries the risk of higher penalties, the fewer transactions you have with a dealer, the better. Except in cases like this.  Often the price is significantly lower in bulk as well.  Montana’s cartel members who have amassed a surplus choose to bury it in a van in their backyard.
  • Don’t deal with anyone under 18.  Ever. No matter what he/she is willing to do for just a taste of your medicine.

This is by no means a comprehensive or exhaustive list and should not be considered an endorsement of illegal activity. 


Shrugging off the Tea Party Takeover of Montana’s Republican Party


Apparently the  tea people takeover of the Yellowstone Central Committee wasn’t quite enough for the Queen of the Tea People, Jennifer Olsen, the Ken Miller for Governor Campaign Facebook Administrator and founder of Montana Shrugged, Tea Party Patriots.  Check out a recent post from Ms. Olsen:

VOTE for me! for vice-chair of the state republican central committee in June!
So…..I have decided to run for vice-chair of the state republican central committee. I have a lot of ideas that can help unify conservative voters across the state of Montana and I would appreciate your vote at the convention in Butte in June…
So…..I have decided to run for vice-chair of the state republican central committee. I have a lot of ideas that can help unify conservative voters across the state of Montana and I would appreciate your vote at the convention in Butte in June. As one told me, the job is what you make of it, and I’d like to see the Republican party of Montana do BIG things. Including of course, winning every seat up in 2012. Who’s with me?Working on my slogan…..but it’ll be good!  
No matter what my slogan…..I want to win in 2012!  Not just for me but for the future of our state…..and our country.  
You can count on me to be a ‘doer’.  I would appreciate your vote in June!

 

Remember this though?  Eric Olsen, In February of this year, co-founder of Montana Shrugged and Jennifer’s father; said “We are equal opportunity haters.  We don’t like Republicans, we don’t like Democrats.  We are Americans working on American issues.” It does certainly seem odd that nearly every core member of Montana Shrugged is now an officer in the Yellowstone County Republican Central Committee, but perhaps it is only a coincidence. Always controversial, the group seems thrives on publicity, whether positive or not.
Although Ms Olsen sends out mass emails from Montana Shrugged, she also claims that her personal opinions aren’t necessarily those of Montana Shrugged’s. Considering she is a co-founder of the organization, one may assume she aligns herself with the same values, and after all, she was using the organization’s email address, not her personal one.   A complaint filed against the group for their partisan campaign and election activities was dismissed late last year due primarily to media exceptions in Montana law.  The Office of Political Practices is keeping a close eye on the group, according to sources.
Many of Montana’s most recent session’s freshman lawmakers are sympathetic to the tea people’s cause and although they consider this year’s session to be a resounding success, some of their own party disagree.
“You are scaring the you-know-what out of them with this kind of talk,” veteran Republican lawmaker Walt McNutt said. “This needs to stop and stop now. Stop scaring our constituents and stop letting us look like a bunch of buffoons.”
It is also worth noting that approval ratings of the 2011 legislative session hovered below the 15% mark, so legislators who consider it a success were apparently using completely different criteria than mainstream Montana.   Perhaps accomplishing thoughtful draconian marijuana reform repeal contributed to the legislature’s confidence in themselves. After all, there was Senate Majority Leader Jeff Essmann’s strange speech at Yellowstone County’s Lincoln Reagan dinner….  after an extensive introduction befitting of a king, the arrogant and aloof Essmann read a letter from a medical marijuana patient who essentially told Essmann that the senator had failed Montanans and succeeded only in destroying an industry.  Essmann’s response, naturally; was “Mission Accomplished”.  Evidently, job killing is now a tea people-approved activity.
Good luck to Jennifer Olsen in her quest to take over the Montana GOP. Perhaps readers would like to suggest some pithy campaign slogans for Ms. Olsen.  Should you require some inspiration, I’ve included a few screenshots from her freedom-loving Facebook account.
Should the screenshots not provide quite enough material to choose from, an automated slogan generator is located here.

The Comforting Embrace of the Government Nanny


 Montana’s 62nd legislature, led by a healthy Republican majority, sought repeatedly to overturn citizens initiatives and impose new moralistic standards upon its citizens.  As a result, the hypocritical right; who profess a dedication to smaller, more localized government and less intrusion, is being criticized state-wide by its own members. The left generally looks to the government to solve whatever problems we face but most Montanans are already aware that the government’s solutions are generally more destructive than than any problems presented to us. What ever happened to this? Montana is widely known for its libertarian bend and traditionally has had no problem in the past saying no to the federal government.  Real ID, wolves, firearms…. we generally prefer to rule ourselves.

Forget political ideology, Montanans should be dropping labels and stereotypes and embracing each other in the battle our own federal government is waging against us. Instead we are divided, selectively enforcing components of the constitution to meet political needs.

Gonzales v. Raich, the Tenth Amendment, and Controlled Substances Act

Gonzales v Raich essentially ruled that even intra-state marijuana activity was subject to federal jurisdiction via the Commerce Clause. Federal intervention falls under the category of “powers delegated to the United States by the Constitution” (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3).

While condemning Republicans for their anti-liberty actions regarding Montana’s medical marijuana industry, I’ve noticed frightening inconsistencies in both sides of the political spectrum.  With great frequency I wonder how the left is able to justify their support of national healthcare reform (Obamacare) considering the very decision- Gonzales v. Raich -that made such a mandate possible is also utilized in federal intervention in medical marijuana states.  On the other hand, many conservatives advocated the federal government’s limitless reading of the commerce clause to fight the war on drugs, but now denounce the use of such power to enforce Obamacare…. selective application.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The Constitution provides that the powers of the federal government are limited and specifically defined. Because the Constitution did not give Congress the authority to regulate alcohol, prohibition required a constitutional amendment.  If we are taking a principled stand on limiting the scope of the federal government, we need to do so consistently.  Medical marijuana or socialized medicine, we need to ask ourselves whether allowing the federal government to regulate anything and everything is acceptable to us.  The Commerce Clause is a double-edged sword.

How many Republicans would be willing to enforce the Tenth Amendment when the issue is marijuana? How do Democrats justify involving the federal government in healthcare but not in regulating cannabis?

IRS

New tax mandates and penalties included in Obamacare will cause the greatest expansion of the Internal Revenue Service since World War II, as 16,500 agents will be hired to enforce the law.  The IRS is also harassing medical marijuana dispensaries.  According to Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code, no deductions or credits can be claimed by businesses “trafficking in controlled substances”. So, medical marijuana dispensaries across the state are being audited and disallowed all  business deductions (e.g., buying marijuana, hiring staff, paying for office space, etc.), essentially taxing businesses out of existence.  Using the IRS to enforce health care reform sounds ridiculous, nearly as crazy as involving federal agencies like the EPA, ICE, DHS, or OSHA in medical marijuana raids.

FDA
The Food and Drug Administration wants to hold your hand as well, they essentially believe in no health freedom at all. From the FDA in a dismissal notice filed in Iowa by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund:

“There is no ‘deeply rooted’ historical tradition of unfettered access to foods of all kinds.”

“Plaintiffs’ assertion of a ‘fundamental right to their own bodily and physical health, which includes what foods they do and do not choose to consume for themselves and their families’ is similarly unavailing because plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish.”

The FDA believes that it is the only entity granted the authority to decide for you what you are able to eat and drink. The government nanny, in other words, may override your food decisions and deny you free access to the foods and beverages you desire.  This is of course, the same entity that gave us Thalidomide, Vioxx, Phen-fen, and a host of other unsafe pharmaceuticals that were eventually pulled from the market after killing and maiming countless Americans.  Naturally, the FDA has also “definitively established” that marijuana has no medical use or value.

Under the guise of public safety, our populace has been conditioned to believe, despite the overwhelming oppositional evidence, that our government is acting in the name of public safety.  Bans on smoking, including toys with children’s high calorie meals, circumcision, salt, and cell phone use while driving, as well as laws requiring seat belt use can all be easily justified by the sheep.  In reality, they are all affronts to liberty.  Adults should be able to make their own choices, free of government instruction or guidance.   Sure, we all want affordable healthcare- but don’t tell me the federal government has a right to force us all to purchase a product while you claim they have no right to regulate our use of banned substances.

This isn’t about Republicans, it isn’t about Democrats. This isn’t about health care or medical cannabis, this is about liberty.  This is our future and we can’t have it both ways.  We need to forget partisan politics and defend the constitution.  Where is the Tea party now?


Debunking the Debunker: Jeff Essmann


Montanans this year have been subjected to extraordinary deception by their elected officials. The following bit of dramatic, nanny government style propaganda appeared in Wednesday’s Billings Gazette.  It was written by chief prohibitionist Republican Senator Jeff Essmann.  Debunks of his debunks appear in red.

There has been much media coverage lately of the legal challenge to Senate Bill 423, the new Montana Marijuana Act recently enacted with strong bipartisan support of 113 of 150 Montana legislators. A legal action was filed by the highly paid, hired gun of the millionaire marijuana growers to prevent them from losing their very profitable business model on July 1. A variety of claims have been circulated by those wishing to retain the “Wild West” situation developed under the ambiguous language found in the original act, which set up a system for people to access a product that is still illegal under federal law. It is time to debunk those claims.

“The point of prohibiting compensation to registered providers was to divorce the cash from the privilege of transporting marijuana around the community.”

First, the proponents for retaining the current mess argue that eliminating the storefront model, which allowed a “caregiver” to provide marijuana to hundreds of registered cardholders, will effectively eliminate all access to the product, as the cardholders will be forced to grow their own, which they are alleged to be incapable of, or be aided by a provider that is limited to a maximum of three cardholders, the “small provider” model.  No, actually, we call this the no-provider model.  No providers of services are willing to do so for zero compensation and a significant financial loss.  Cardholders WILL then be forced to grow their own as access will disappear.  Just in case a few independently wealthy marijuana philanthropists slip through the cracks to utilize this “privilege”, the legislature ensured they could only provide their charity for a maximum of 3 patients.  God forbid a do gooder do too much good. While the old model indeed allowed providers to serve hundreds of patients, an overwhelming majority of caregivers had a very small number of patients- typically only one.  If Montana’s caregivers were forced to become non-profits, they’d be elated.  Profits weren’t an issue in most cases anyway and in non-profit agencies, at least expenses can be paid.  Under SB 423, the caregiver must donate all equipment, nutrients, seeds, etc to the cause – the patient cannot reimburse the grower for their services, time or wisdom. 

Of the 14 states that have approved the use of marijuana by chronically sick or terminally ill people, five states including Alaska, Nevada, New Jersey, Vermont and Washington currently use the small provider model. I am not aware of any evidence that shows that the model used in these other states has denied access to the truly ill.  Montana’s medical marijuana laws, thanks to Essmann’s SB 423 is known as the worst marijuana law in the nation. OK, let’s examine this comparison state by state:

 Alaska: possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is actually LEGAL in the state.  Possession of less than 25 plants is protected under Alaska’s constitutional “right to privacy”.  

Nevada:  First and second offenses of small amounts of marijuana are treated as minor traffic violations.  Affirmative defense is admissible as well. 

New Jersey: Growers are non-profit agencies, not NO pay agencies. Because of its very recent inception, we have no way to know whether NJ’s laws will work. 

Washington: Although caregivers can only serve one patient, they can be reimburse and can GASP! even profit. Affirmative defense is admissible. 

Delaware:  Delaware became the 16th medical marijuana state only less than 2 weeks ago and is in the process of a one year regulatory licensing period before cultivation can proceed.  Using Delaware as an example is ridiculous.

SB423 does not prohibit a card holder who grows his own from paying for assistance so long as the adviser is not a registered marijuana provider, and the advice does not include the act of “cultivation” prohibited by other criminal laws. The point of prohibiting compensation to registered providers was to divorce the cash from the privilege of transporting marijuana around the community, for obvious reasons. Reasonable access and assistance are still permitted.  All “cultivation” is prohibited by other criminal laws, so this is obviously a ridiculous justification.  I find it interesting that Essmann claims that patients can pay for advice though… from anyone other than someone who actually grows marijuana.  I don’t think I’d take FREE advice from a non-grower.  As for those “obvious reasons”, what are they, Jeff? 

There is no constitutional right to access marijuana, although the plaintiffs’ pleadings can be read to make that reach. If the court finds that unregulated access to marijuana is required by the Montana Constitution under the “pursuit of life’s necessities” provision it contains, we may soon see similar claims for other controlled substances such as methamphetamine, cocaine, and improperly used prescription drugs. After all, the argument will go, whose job is it to decide what is medicine and for whom? Prohibition of alcohol required a constitutional amendment, so it could also be argued that there is no constitutional prohibition of marijuana either.  I’d hardly call it a “reach”. Marijuana kills 0 people/year.  Prescription drugs kill far more people than illegal drugs combined.  Whose job IS it to decide what is medicine and for whom, Mr. Essmann?  Since you took on the feat yourself, I assume you think it is your job- as a lawyer or a legislator?  I prefer to make those decisions with my physician, but attorneys are smart too.  Perhaps I will ask my physician for advice if I decide to get divorced.  

As of May 1, a group of 33 doctors in Montana has certified 28,959 patients, or an average of 877 each. Therefore, SB423 prohibits financial relationships between doctors and marijuana growers and requires the Montana Board of Medical Examiners to review whether doctors certifying more than 25 patients a year are following the board’s adopted protocols. There can be no interference in a doctor-patient relationship if a valid relationship does not exist. Of course, nobody cares how many opiate or stimulant prescriptions physicians write, after all, they are big Pharma certified. Don’t forget to mention that the law also discourages physicians from writing recommendations because they automatically trigger investigations at their own expense after 25 patients.  Sounds like as much fun as an IRS audit.  

SB423 dismantles the “Montana cannabis industry” but preserves reasonable access for legitimate cardholders to a substance that, I must remind everyone, remains illegal to possess and distribute under federal law.  I guess our definitions of reasonable differ.  I’ve suggested to my patients that they seek the advice of black market drug dealers who operate in dark alleys to protect them from our oppressive government.  After all, when state authorities cannot legally arrest medical marijuana growers, they simply hand over all relevant information to federal agencies. Don’t believe me?  Just wait until you read about the raids Lee Enterprises has yet to publish… or just wait for a knock at your door.  The feds have patient records in hand now.  Blame legislators like Jeff Essmann.  

State Sen. Jeff Essmann,

R-Billings, served as Senate

majority leader and primary sponsor of SB423.

The Federal Government’s War on America


The line between the “war on terror” and the “war on drugs” is blurring in our state as well as our nation. Only a few miles away from massive flooding, widespread devastation, and the impoverished Crow Indian Reservation residents who had nothing yet  lost everything ; our federal government is waging war on yet another state-licensed  medical marijuana caregiver.   Native Americans called  into radio shows yesterday to inform the outside world that several  communities have no clean drinking water and many residents haven’t had food in two days yet our tax dollars are instead supporting unconstitutional seizures perpetrated by a dangerous gang of economic terrorists, commonly known as our own federal government.

US House and Senate leaders have reportedly reached a bipartisan agreement to extend the Constitution-shredding Patriot Act after conducting shady back room meetings devoid of public input.  Although the votes were largely symbolic, both Montana’s senators voted no on Patriot Act cloture which passed 74-8. America massacred our boogeyman and through that process proved that we are capable of capturing and killing our enemies without trampling on the rights and privacy of our own citizens. Perhaps when Americans realize that the Patriot Act has been used primarily to rob and imprison American drug dealers instead of terrorists,  they will protest. Any doubt over which war the Patriot Act is actually fighting is erased after reading that in fiscal year 2008, 65% of all “sneak and peek” requests were drug cases and out of the total number (763) that year, only THREE of them involved terrorism.  The “War on Terror” was nothing but the vehicle for invasive policy changes to escalate our nation’s failed “War on Drugs” and 9/11 was the excuse.  No wonder the truth movement exists.

For those of you who don’t use marijuana and thus don’t care about what is happening in your country and your state as long as it involves cannabis, you may want to consider briefly what Ben Franklin said about sacrificing liberty for the sake of security. Someday it won’t be marijuana, maybe it will be your religion or God forbid, your firearms, but someday, YOU may hear a knock at the door from a heavily-armed team of friendly law enforcement officers who shoot your children’s pets, all in the name of public safety.

We currently  have a President who promised his administration would stop raiding medical marijuana facilities in states where medical cannabis is legal yet is on track to substantially exceed the number of such raids under the previous administration. Don’t expect such customary procedures as being able to read a warrant presented to you either- after all, you are guilty until proven innocent and will be treated as a serial killer until you are convicted- if you are ever even charged with a crime.  If you aren’t, no worries; the federal government will smash and grab as much as they possibly can, seizing every asset connected to you.   That way, you will have no way of hiring an attorney in your defense if the feds change their mind about charging you.

Montanans currently have a governor who “held his nose” to allow a bill (SB 423) he considered “unconstitutional on its face” to become law, thus expanding Montana’s black market drug market and eliminating safe cannabis access for our state’s ill.  Knowing the flawed legislation would likely be caught up in legal battles does not justify the governor’s inaction.  This battle will be long, difficult and expensive.

Montana’s legislature, whose members bragged about deleting the emails of cannabis proponents before even opening them sought to overturn the will of Montana voters countless times in the 2011 session.  Legislators scolded us for being in bad crowd, told us we were wrong in 2004 and declared that the use medical marijuana was similar to combining valium with arsenic .  Our leaders seized any opportunity to compare Montana’s medical marijuana industry to the  natural disaster du jour (Hurricane Katrina, Japan Tsunami) Our state is now faced with its own natural disaster.

Speaker of the House Mike Milburn: “We’re not talking about the dikes holding back the water anymore, we’re talking about how do you rebuild the city.”  This time, we aren’t talking about medical marijuana and we aren’t talking about Hurricane Katrina.  We are talking about Montanans in need- something Milburn doesn’t seem to care about.

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FEDERAL RAID in progress….. Hardin, MT


Still waiting for confirmation on this, but because the caregiver doesn’t appear to be registered with ASA, we are willing to post it anyway- admin.

“There is a raid in progress in Hardin of all places, it seems local law enforcement called in the feds. Not many details but stay tuned and be careful, this is not a storefront. Its delivery.”