Montana’s Politicians… An Impotent Lot


We tell the feds to get lost when it comes to healthcare, wolves, and guns, but those we elected beg for help from the federal government to enforce marijuana laws? Please.

Today we learned that Montana medical marijuana advocate Tom Daubert was able to negotiate a plea deal with federal prosecutors. Daubert is the founder of Patients and Families United, a medical marijuana advocacy group. He was influential in the drafting of I-148, the initiative that Montana voters approved overwhelmingly to legalize medical marijuana in 2004.  Daubert was also a one of a handful of partners in Montana Cannabis, one of several caregivers who were raided in March of 2011.  Others involved in Montana Cannabis have not been quite so fortunate as they were recently indicted on multiple federal counts of conspiracy, cultivation, and gun charges.  According to news reports,  Daubert has agreed to plead guilty to a charge of “conspiracy to maintain a drug-involved premises”. Unlike the charges Daubert’s former partners are facing, his doesn’t carry a mandatory minimum sentence.  Recent federal cases have indicated that this is an increasingly common charge by the feds- especially when cases against the accused are relatively weak and built primarily on circumstantial evidence.

Montana’s indicted cannabis caregivers have accepted plea deals featuring significant charge and sentence reductions (most sentences range from 6 – 18 months in federal prison) although they were also subject to massive asset forfeitures and additional fines.  So far though, it appears nearly everyone has been negotiating with the feds, but what happens to those who refuse the plea deals?

Lindsey's legal practice is built upon helping clients adhere to state law. He now faces mandatory minimum sentences of 690 years as a result.

Take, for instance; Chris Lindsey.  He is a soft-spoken, educated, non-violent intellectual. He is a husband and a father to a young son.  Lindsey, a Missoula attorney, served as in-house legal counsel for Montana Cannabis (yes, Tom Daubert’s company) for less than a year.  He left the company a full fourteen months before the March 2011 raids that preceded these federal indictments.  He was indicted last week on a long list of federal conspiracy, drug, and gun charges.  The guns weren’t his. He wasn’t a drug dealer and as far as conspiracy goes, well, I suppose I’m breaking some of those federal statutes simply by writing this post.  Chris has built his legal practice around helping Montana’s medical marijuana patients adhere to state law.  He has not been accused of breaking any of Montana’s statutes and yet he is unable legally to use his clear compliance with state law in his federal defense.  He says he can’t accept a plea deal on something he believes in. So what does that mean for Chris?  Brace yourself.

Mandatory minimums on his charges amass sentences of 690 years in federal prison.  Maximum sentences are 25 consecutive life terms plus an additional 85 years.  What purpose do we serve by incarcerating a productive professional with no history of criminal activity- someone who has never been accused of any sort of violence?  This is a travesty of epic proportions.  Keep in mind that there is no parole in federal prison and that convicts must serve 85% of their sentences.  Doesn’t this make you wonder why those who make a deal (thus maintaining frightening and artificially high federal conviction rates ) are criminals who upon acceptance of a plea deal, are instantly benign enough to warrant sentences averaging one year yet those who value their principles enough to defend them in a court of law are scary enough for consecutive life sentences?

Our state government allows this injustice, without so much as a complaint. While politicians from other states protest the federal crackdown medical marijuana, those from Montana are silent. Montana politicians typically claim to exhibit a sort of libertarian-streak that is native to our people- people who just want to be left alone.  In reality however, our politicians are pussies.  Nearly every one of them.  They are too worried about being reelected to actually take a stand to protect the very people who elected them.  From our Congressional delegation to our local sheriffs, Montana politicians LOVE federal intervention on marijuana cases.  In fact, instead of actually working with our existing state law, state law enforcement often refused to prosecute those in defiance of the law in order to set up a repeal of I-148 in our last legislative session.  Rumor has it, to ensure a repeal, our elected officials even worked with federal agents to schedule a key legislative vote simultaneously with dramatic federal raids taking place in the state capital, as well as cities across the state.  On one Republican state representative’s Facebook page, he declared immediately after the raids  “Praise the Lord and Praise the Feds”.  I guess these faux Libertarian-minded Montanans believe they can deal with everything on the state level- healthcare, wolves, guns- everything but the “scourge of Montana” (yes, another state legislator called it that), marijuana.

Our governor, Brian Schweitzer, did absolutely nothing to protect Montanans from federal intervention.  Rep. Denny Rehberg and Sen. Jon Tester are fighting for Tester’s US Senate seat.  Conveniently, neither of them have stood up to federal medical marijuana intervention.  Max Baucus recently announced his intent to run for reelection in 2014- has he taken a stand?  Nope.  Our attorney general, Steve Bullock, who has continuously opposed legislation as well as legal maneuvers designed to protect patients, now wants to be our governor.  Nearly all of the prohibitionists in our state legislature are running for either reelection or election to yet another state office.  If our state governments refuse to protect us from the tyrannical federal government by use of the “supremacy clause” and a disgustingly broad interpretation of the commerce clause via Raich v Gonzales, what is the point of having state governments at all?
As we head farther into campaign season, let me remind you all that politicians are the biggest criminals alive.  We reward them with our votes and pay them healthy salaries with our taxes. We subsidize the failed war on drugs by allowing our government to perpetuate violent crime on our borders in the name of security. I am BEGGING you all, please do NOT disappoint me.  Get your asses out June 5 in primary elections and don’t you DARE neglect to vote in the general election November 6.   I do not feel safer with Chris Lindsey behind bars- or Tom Daubert, for that matter, do you?

Montana’s politicians are vacillating, submissive cowards and it is high time for some outrage from Montana’s citizens, this is embarrassing. 

An Alternate Path to Defeat: Democrat Files for Montana GOP Governor


The Montana GOP is going to need a bigger tent to fit all of the candidates seeking the Republican nomination for governor.  Yesterday, former state transportation director Jim Lynch announced his candidacy in the already very crowded field. Lynch, who lost a Senate race as a Democrat in 1994 and has been a member of Democrat Governor Brian Schweitzer‘s  cabinet since 2005 insists he is actually a Republican.  In today’s Billings Gazette, he says

 “I’m probably like most Montanans,” he said. “Most of my views are Republican. I’m a Republican. I’ve never voted for a Democrat for president in my life.”

Although he claims he is running to “pave the way for economic development”, it appears he simply needs a job after Governor Schweitzer asked him to resign under very questionable circumstances.  The governor claimed the DOT’s  hiring of Lynch’s daughter potentially violated nepotism laws but rumors have circulated for some time that Lynch was also under investigation for misappropriating hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to buy an airplane, violating Montana’s constitution.  Shortly before Lynch resigned, a district judge also ruled that the DOT had violated the Montana Environmental Protection Act in approval of the mega-loads plan with an insufficient environmental assessment. Considering the hiring of his daughter took place four years ago, it does appear there may be more to the story.

Sorry Lynch, I don’t think you are like “most Montanans”.  In fact, you may have even more baggage than Rick Hill. Ironically, Lynch was rumored earlier this year to be pondering a Democratic run at Governor, but apparently further fracturing the Republican Party was a preferable path to defeat. Fourteen have filed for candidacy thus far:

Republicans:

–State Sen. Jeff Essmann, Billings. Essmann crafted the unpopular SB 423, which essentially forces medical marijuana patients to seek black market medicine.

–Bob Fanning, Pray. Fanning is an anti-wolf activist.

–Ex-U.S. Rep. Rick Hill, Helena. Ahead in fundraising, behind in morals.

–Neil Livingstone, Helena. Livingstone’s campaign is essentially broke, but he has the means to buy himself name recognition.

–Jim Lynch, Kalispell.

–Ex-Sen. Ken Miller, Laurel.  Ken Miller was sent by God to run for Governor….. again.  His campaign is rather peculiar.

–County Commissioner Jim O’Hara, Fort Benton.

–Ex-Sen.Minority Leader Corey Stapleton, Billings.

–Drew Turiano, Helena, self-published sci-fi author

Democrats: Attorney General Steve Bullock, Helena, and State Sen. Larry Jent, Bozeman.

Independent: Robert Coate, Bozeman.

Libertarian: Ron Vandervender, Cascade.

No party disclosed yet: Ronald Lassle, Helena.

Is Lynch a Republican or a Democrat?  With his “grandiose sense of self-importance”, he perhaps suffers  from a cluster B personality disorder, like Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Anti-Social Personality Disorder. Many afflicted have a shifting morality, they are always ready to shift values when necessary.

 

The Perils of Authoring Letters to the Editor


The following letter to the editor, written by Audrey Walleser Lindgren  appeared in the Laurel Outlook on August 3, 2011.

Walker hits nail on the head

Dear Editor:

State Senator Ed Walker hit the nail on the head with his analysis of Gov. Schweitzer’s argumentative and combative response to the Yellowstone River oil spill.

Since the beginning, the Governor has viewed this spill not as much as an environmental accident in need of a cooperative and unified response, as he has a political opportunity to take to the airwaves and win a national following as a tough-talking populist demagogue. EPA, Exxon and county officials are all working together to clean up the oil, but what exactly is the governor’s administration doing to help?

It would be good if the Governor could roll up his sleeves and get to work on the cleanup, but if he can’t do that, he should at least stop talking.

Audrey Walleser Lindgren

I believe Audrey’s assessment was spot on, but more interesting was a response she received in the mail today, most likely from a liberal.  The following letter was sent to Audrey, at her home, by someone identifying himself as K. Smith, Wanda Lane in Billings (Kevin Smith lives at 210 Wanda Lane in Billings).  I did call the Kevin and Cynthia Smith residence (210 Wanda Lane, Billings, MT  59102) in case the letter wasn’t actually sent by him, but nobody answered the call.  Considering the author seems to have very passionate views, I do find it odd that I was unable to locate any political contributions from him.  Whoever the author is, he or she has done a find job of drawing negative attention to their cause.  The vast contrast in the quality of grammar and content of the letters alone does nothing for the author’s cause- especially after addressing Audrey as “dum (sic) ass”.

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.  

Senator Essmann’s Insatiable Appetite for Taxes


“Now, more than ever, Montana needs leaders who understand that more government doesn’t mean more prosperity,” said Sen. Jeff Essmann, R-Billings. “Montana needs leaders who know that higher taxes don’t lead to more jobs … and who understand that environmental obstructionism doesn’t put food on the table for struggling families. …

In 2009, Montana’s economy was struggling.  Unemployment had nearly doubled while the quality of jobs had declined.  Nationally, the mortgage crisis, bank bailouts and healthcare reform all contributed to the erosion of opportunity in the Treasure State.

While Republicans typically oppose tax increases and reject virtually all new taxes, Jeff Essmann regularly defies party principles in attempts to boost the tax burden to fund government growth. Although such legislation is typically carried by Democrats, during the 2009 legislative session Essmann proposed implementing a local option sales tax. Regarding this additional tax, the senator said “Everybody talks about property tax relief, no one does anything about it – this is my attempt to do so.”  Opponents criticized the legislation as increasing taxes on not only tourists, but potentially all Montanans and the bill eventually died.

Maybe Essmann was only trying to prepare Montanans for the impending fiscal shock of their lifetimes. The senator rewrote HB 658, to mitigate the impact of Montana’s property tax reappraisals which are mandated every six years. The previously revenue neutral legislation was sponsored by Rep. Mike Jopek (D) who actually voted against the bill after Essmann and his committee dramatically modified the piece.  The unpopular legislation passed on the  last day of the session, eliminating the possibility of an amendatory veto and it became law without the signature of Governor Schweitzer.  As a result of the bill, property taxes for many Montanans skyrocketed during this difficult financial time and Essmann conveniently placed responsibility for his own legislation on Governor Schweitzer and Revenue Director Dan Bucks. Essmann compassionately suggested that Montanans utilize reverse mortgages to cope financially, effectively placing the burden on their heirs.

Now it appears Essmann, the owner of a water vending business,  is poised to announce his run at the 2012 GOP Gubernatorial nomination. Montanans- especially Republicans- need to seriously consider whether they are comfortable with the possibility, albeit a remote one; of a tax-lover like Essmann governing the state.  The campaign cycle will no doubt be brutal as the race is already very crowded, already featuring a number of other declared candidates – three more from Yellowstone County alone and rumors of others soon to join.

 And just when I thought I’d recovered from enduring hours of Essmann the Senator’s pompous,dry, slow speech patterns….  I cannot imagine the level of arrogance he’ll display in his attempts to convince Montanans to hire him as the state’s CEO.

 Although a formidable opponent in the bragging department, Rick Hill’s campaign has been plagued by sleazy revelations about his personal life that gained national exposure.  Hill’s “Mermaid-Gate” was responsible in part for Politico raising the rating of the 2012 MT Governor’s race, which is now considered the most competitive in the nation.

Corey Stapleton, a former naval officer who served as Montana’s Senate Minority Leader was recently called the “future of the Republican party” by former US Congressman Ron Marlenee.  Perhaps best known for sponsoring Otter Creek coal development legislation and saving taxpayers millions by replacing the Montana Department of Revenue’s failed POINTS computer system, Stapleton has thus far managed to avoid most criticism.

Ken Miller, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2004 (who came in third in a four-way primary, ironically placing only ahead of a democrat), believes we should “reject federalism when harmful to state’s rights” and that “we should stand with AZ Governor Jan Brewer”. The TEA party favorite, Miller lacks the support of mainstream Montana Republicans.

Neil Livingstone has the most interesting resume, but is largely unknown to Montanans.  Rumors have circulated that he is only using this race to increase name recognition for a 2014 run, but sources in his camp deny this. Jim O’Hara, a Chouteau County Commissioner, is an advocate of wind farms and other renewable sources of energy. He is passionate about world hunger and resource management and also lacks statewide name recognition. Keith Winkler, another Yellowstone County Republican, is largely unknown even in Billings, where he resides.

 

 

 

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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And then they came for…..


 Editor’s note: This post was written by Elizabeth Pincolini of New Frontier Patient Care. With the exception of her use of the word  “democracy” , we enthusiastically endorse her message.  We will save the discussion of the evils of democracy for a later date. 

Democracy is under attack in Montana and we need everyone’s help to stop it!

This year in Montana, for the first time in our state’s history, our state legislature voted to overturn a voter Initiative. Int. 148 was voted in 2004 with 62% of voters voting for it. Keep in mind 62% is approximately 270,000 votes, in a state with less than 1 million people. That is a significant achievement and a true example of democracy and the will of the people at work!

Do you believe in the democratic process? Do you believe your state legislature has the right to supersede the will, intention and votes of the people in your state or any other? How do you feel about personal choice? Or the right to privacy? Do you believe people should be free to live their lives free from government intrusion?

Will any of those beliefs change when I tell you Int. 148 was Montana’s Medical Marijuana Act?

Our law was attacked by outside special interest groups based out of California. Politically timed federal raids, suspiciously coinciding with legislative votes, were deployed. Our state law was under attack and our legislators were helping to lead the charge. Senators and their wives, as well as State Representatives, chaired and ran this group that was opposing our rights and our votes. Their connections allowed them what seemed like unlimited access to lobby throughout the capital all session, without the constraints and the rules and processes the “regular” lobbyists needed to follow.

While our governor vetoed an outright repeal bill, we were left with a law that would essentially leave legitimate patients without safe access to their medicine, or even to a doctor’s recommendation. A bill that make providers provide medical cannabis for free, for no more than 3 people, after they are made to identify themselves to the FEDERAL Government as a provider, via fingerprint and background check submitted to the FBI. ( Yes, you read that correctly – to provide free medical cannabis in Montana you would need to tell the FEDERAL government you will be doing so)
(The full version of SB423 can be read here http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/2011/BillPdf/SB0423.pdf )

To help fight this horrible legislation and the blatant attack on Montana’s democratic process, the Montana Cannabis Industry Association emerged. http://www.mtcia.org/
This is a grassroots organization fighting for the rights of patients, providers and voters across the state. The battle will now be waged in the courts and through a voter referendum signature-gathering petition. This is once again, the will of the people at work, trying valiantly to preserve “…by the people, for the people…”

It is for this reason I am writing. We urgently need financial backing from all supporters of democracy.
Even if you do not live in Montana, the outcome of this battle may very well affect your state laws.
If we are defeated in our attempts to stop the overturning of a law the PEOPLE saw fit to put into place for themselves, it opens the door for this assault on state’s rights to be waged in your state as well.

This battle is not just about medical cannabis and a patient’s right to choose what they put into their own bodies. It is about democracy. It is about the will of the PEOPLE to make their own laws in the states in which they live. It is about stopping those in Legislative power from changing the will and intent of the people in favor of their own personal beliefs or those of special interest groups. It is about taking back our rights as individuals and as Americans.

Whether you live in Montana or elsewhere, please consider going to http://www.mtcia.org/ and donating. Help take a stand for democracy, personal freedom, personal choice, and the right of the people to enact their own laws and govern themselves.

Thank you,
Elizabeth Pincolini
Billings MT

Montana Raided Again by Obama’s Anti-Cannabis Thugs, Schweitzer and Bullock Silent


The federal government once again has invaded our state to enforce the  unconstitutional Controlled Substances Act, perpetrating a raid on Sleeping Giant Caregivers in Helena today.  Notably but not surprisingly, Governor Schweitzer and Attorney General (Gubernatorial hopeful) Steve Bullock have again remained silent, caring more about saving their political future than defending Montana’s ill.  Federal intervention is apparently acceptable to them, as long as it only hurts one of their  non-crucial voting blocs.

A search and seizure warrant signed Thursday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch of Missoula authorized federal agents to seize items that are “evidence of the commission of drug trafficking offenses,” including marijuana and hashish, weapons, transaction records and other documents and paraphernalia as well as up to 1.2 million dollars in the business’s account at Mountain West Bank.  Naturally, the case has been sealed, no other details are known.  Let me guess, the government will destroy the plants, keep the money and continue on to the next assault on America’s freedoms.

View News 5’s exclusive video here.

Watch the following clip, anyone recall Obama’s stance pre-election?  How do all of you pro-cannabis democrats like your “badass” President now? He’s on track thus far to FAR surpass the number of Bush administration raids which numbered just over 200 in 8 years.  The Obama administration has raided well over 100 facilities already with almost almost 2 years left in his first term. So much for those campaign promises. So much for that Ogden memo.

Across the nation, the federal government continues its attempts to intimidate elected officials in hopes of influencing state policy.  I wonder why it even tries considering laws made by states obviously matter very little to this gangster government.  Remember the last series of raids in Montana?  They occurred shortly before a hearing on HB 161 on March 14.  According to the public record (although it wasn’t correct), a hearing was scheduled for 1:30pm in Lewis & Clark County regarding MTCIA’s injunction against SB 423.  Today’s raid occurred just prior to 1:30pm.  I’m sure these are just coincidences though.

Regardless of your stance on medical marijuana, this concerns all Montanans and all Americans as all of our rights are at risk. Call Governor Brian Schweitzer at 406.444.3111 and Attorney General Steve Bullock at 444.2026 today to ask them to condemn the federal intervention and assault on freedom.   Governor Schweitzer has no problem standing up to the federal government when wolves are concerned, ask him why he’s been completely silent about protecting Montana’s ill.  Steve Bullock wants to be your next governor, I suggest you focus your attention on him.  Montana needs a governor who isn’t afraid to do the right thing.  If Bullock ignores the Montanans who are unable to help themselves now, how will he treat them AFTER he has their vote?

This guy wants to govern Montana. He won't defend ill Montanans who use medical cannabis, what makes you think he will defend you?

If you care about your rights and are able to attend,  I will see you tomorrow night in Billings- not at the Yellowstone County Republican Lincoln Reagan dinner, but at a fundraising and networking event held by the MTCIA.  Event details can be found here.

Leading by Example


It can certainly be argued that attacks against Governor Schweitzer are warranted.  His action, or more appropriately his inaction; is despicable and self-serving. His political future is on his mind, rather than the Montana cannabis population who has deservedly never been considered a  serious voting contingency.  It remains to be seen if we can mobilize our voters enough to be taken seriously. Politicians, with very few exceptions; make decisions that protect themselves first- this shouldn’t shock any of us.  A legislator (one of the few that I like) said recently that Schweitzer is easy to work with if you keep his priorities in mind.

1. Brian Schweitzer    2.  Screwing over the Republican Party   3. The Democrats  4. Montana

For a quarter of a century, cannabis proponents in our nation  have struggled to overcome stereotypes unfairly associated with cannabis.  Montana’s recent regression via the legislature is reminiscent of 1937 or so, progress-wise.  However, we most effectively seek legitimacy and positive recognition by setting good examples, following proper channels, and acting in a civil manner.  I empathize with those who are gravely disappointed.  Some of us will soon be devastated by the actions of  the legislature, physically and financially and as a result, emotions are running high. Some in our group have chosen to ignore all reason in favor of acting like many liberals upon their emotions.  By no means am I trying to tamper our first amendment protections nor am I suggesting we silently allow our rights to be revoked by tyrants, but some of us would be better serving our movement by shutting the hell up.

I’m not a big fan of Governor Schweitzer, although we could certainly have a worse governor.  I won’t defend him but I will grant him a level-albeit very minimal- of respect simply because he is the Governor of our state.  Placing profanity or otherwise crude or offensive language on his Facebook wall, calling him names, or otherwise unsavory behavior doesn’t make much sense.  First of all, he most likely doesn’t care about what you think- if he ever noticed at all.  Second of all, thousands of people read his wall, thus witnessing your activity.  You may believe you are representing only your own opinion, but stereotypes aren’t logical so anyone speaking out is easily lumped in with the industry and movement.  This is why I’m peeved.

I don’t like being associated with Jason Christ and most of you don’t either.  Unfortunately, however; many Montanans associate Jason Christ with us.  He most likely didn’t initially intend to damage the industry so extensively, but it happened. As angry as we are at our elected hacks chastising us and providing “marijuana is like arsenic” analogies, the initial blame shouldn’t fall on them- Our legislators obviously had an agenda- one based on false ideas- but if self-appointed representatives of our industry weren’t publicly boasting about their profits while participating in shady activities, the old stereotypes would have been just that, old stereotypes.  There are unscrupulous people in every industry.  Those in ours simply provided a vehicle for our legislature’s obsession.

We can all agree that there is no shortage of passion associated with either side of the cannabis issue.  Although the opponents currently hold the legislative power, WE HOLD THE TRUTH.  We are bullied by the opposition because they have no other tools.  Knowing this, can we not contrast them simply by being courteous?  I am not directing this lecture at anyone in particular, but I’ve worryingly watched our unity and decorum deteriorate in past weeks.  Egos are out of control.  So is anger.  Fear.  Perhaps each of us should take a deep breath and actually think about our words before verbalizing, typing or posting them.  Ask yourself a few questions, here are a few ideas:

  • Will these words hurt others? 
  • Will these words be taken out of context or used to hurt me or my industry and movement?  
  • Are you setting a good example?
  • Am I legitimizing the prohibitionist’s arguments? 
  • Are my words part of a solution or the problem?
  • What are my true motives? 
  • Would Jason Christ post something like this?
We all need to vent occasionally but perhaps the irrational SUPER PASSIONATE venting should be contained to our own walls- or better yet, private messages as opposed to the walls of our elected officials.
Positive reinforcement is required for any truly effective scolding and this instance is no exception.  You can now officially stop gnashing your teeth, the following words are more friendly.
 We should be proud of our accomplishments, we have been blessed with effective leaders who make sacrifices for us all on a daily basis. We have made great strides and  have a clear plan as well as the initial means to achieve our goals and we all deserve a pat on the back.  Our support crosses partisan boundaries.  In the last few months, we’ve likely learned more about Montana law and the legislative process  than we ever desired.  We are registered to vote! We are taking an active role in our future! My personal goal is to show up at the polls in unprecedented numbers in 2012, armed not only with a desire to affect cannabis legislation, but ALL legislation.   These events will shape our future- this isn’t just about marijuana.  This is about liberty. We have a long battle ahead of us and I encourage readers to support the Montana Cannabis Industry Association in their efforts to protect our rights.  Please join us Saturday night in Billings for a MTCIA mixer, details available at mtcia.org.   I regret to inform you that the GOP God Squad/MONTaliban won’t likely be joining us as the event conflicts with the Yellowstone Lincoln Reagan dinner where they will be congratulating themselves on a job well done. It was a tough choice, but I will see you all at the mixer.

The Trust of Montana’s Innocent


 This is the initial segment in a series investigating the motivations of Montana’s anti-cannabis crusaders. Today’s post  features “Pinocchio” Pat Keim, big Tobacco/private prisons/wheat exporter lobbyist.

It has been said that the trust of the innocent is the liar’s most useful tool.  Montana’s 62nd legislative session hearings were rife with exaggerations, unfounded accusations, omissions, and blatant lies.  No oath is required when testifying before legislative committees in Montana.  Legislators appeared happy sifting through the lies, choosing the very best to repeat in future testimony and closing arguments.  Video and audio archives are available online  in case private citizens are interested in fact-checking testimony and testimony clips are available on you tube as well.    Meet Pat Keim, a Montanan typically lobbying for Big Tobacco companies (like Altria and Philip Morris) who, in testimony on behalf of Columbia Grain of Montana, claims the company is unable to find job applicants who test negative for medical marijuana.  Mr. Keim alleges that 100% of applicants were unable to pass necessary pre-employment drug screenings because of their medical marijuana use.

Montanafesto has received information that Mr. Keim’s testimony is not only misleading, but patently false.  In the last six months, we know of at LEAST 3 people, all from the same Columbia Grain facility in Plentywood, MT; who have passed all necessary drug tests and have been hired by Columbia Grain.   Mike Preemer was hired approximately 6 months ago, Mike Fraiser was hired at the beginning of the year, and Nick Chase was hired shortly before the March 11 testimony Keim provided in the preceding clip.  While Fraiser has since left the company, Preemer  and Chase are current Columbia Grain employees.  In Helena last month, an industry activist confronted Keim about the company hiring Nick Chase. Keim reluctantly acknowledged the hire but justified his testimony, claiming the statistics he used in testimony were completed prior to Chase’s employment.

Keim, whose clients in Montana’s most recent session were Alternatives, Inc (a non-profit corporation providing incarceration and treatment facilities for criminals)  and Columbia Grains International (Montana’s largest international grain exporter) for some reason wasn’t working for his typical Big Tobacco clients this session…. or was he?

Perhaps we should examine Columbia Grain’s great concern for eliminating the option for Montana’s ill to use medical cannabis as treatment for their debilitating symptoms.  From Montana’s Office of Political Practices:

I find it somewhat strange that EVERY bill of concern for Columbia Grains International concerned medical marijuana.  Although in limited capacity, I can appreciate the company’s interest in HB 43, which sought to clarify employers’ rights regarding employees who use medical cannabis, it does seem rather suspicious that none of the bills actually involve grain, exports, or anything agricultural.

Patrick Keim provided testimony that was utilized and repeated frequently by GOP cannabis repeal advocates.  If we can discover THREE employees from only ONE of their numerous facilities across the state who were indeed hired recently, it seems all of Keim’s testimony is suddenly suspect. Out of a total number of employees of the company- a number ranging from 93-100- which varied depending on Keim’s particular testimony, it only requires ONE to blow the credibility of his “100% failure” claims.

If medical cannabis is indeed such a dangerous substance, why do opponents of its use need to exaggerate claims and use fictitious figures to project their points?

When testifying in court on very minor offenses, which likely affect only the person cited for the offense; we must swear before the court to provide honest testimony.  Why do we allow lawmakers to rely on flawed and dishonest testimony to create legislation that affects all of our state’s citizens?  If  safety is our goal, we owe our children and communities policies based on facts- not fictitious, profit-driven, religious, or ignorant agendas.  Montana’s 62nd legislative session was truly a disgrace.

What can we, as private Montana citizens, do to combat this disgrace?  First of all, REGISTER TO VOTE.  If you aren’t certain of your registration status, check here.  

Montana Governor Brands “Black Market Bill” (SB 423) Unconstitutional


In a surprising move (surprising to me at least), Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer called Senate Majority Leader Jeff Essmann’s SB 423, “unconstitutional on its face”.  He expressed his intention to issue an amendatory veto on the legally defective legislation as he doesn’t believe it could survive a court battle in its current form   The legislation, which passed Montana’s House and Senate earlier this week has been nicknamed the “black market bill” by opponents who believe eliminating the medical cannabis industry will invite dangerous criminal elements engaged in drug activity to again control the supply of marijuana in Montana.

In an interview with Lee Newspapers State Bureau, Schweitzer was highly critical of the GOP-led 2011 Legislature, expressing his disgust for their “squandering”  of Montana’s 90 day biennial legislative session.  He asked,

“Why don’t you just pass something that works, that’s constitutional and that can survive the test of time?” he asked.

A bipartisan interim committee, after months of work, inspired HB 68, sponsored by Diane Sands (D- Missoula).  While nowhere near perfect legislation, it is difficult if not impossible to find patients or growers who would prefer Essmann’s bill to HB 68, which was tabled in committee.  A re-written version of SB 154, a gray bill sponsored by Republican Dave Lewis (and largely preferred by patients and growers) also received little support from the repeal-driven prohibitionist Republicans.  Referring to HB 68,  Governor Schweitzer said ,

“They threw that in the garbage and now they’re going to send me this (SB) 423, which everybody’s who’s read it says, ‘Oh yeah, it’s unconstitutional,’ ” he said.  “The bill as written is not going to survive the courts.”

Montana’s governor, who recently was featured in national news stories for calling Republicans in the state legislature “Bat-crap crazy” and for registering a “VETO” cattle brand with the state (with which he last week ceremoniously killed bills he considered foolish or unconstitutional) isn’t fond of a requirement in Essmann’s bill that requires Montana’s medical cannabis patients to carry their state licensing card with them at all times, regardless of whether or not they are in possession of marijuana.  Patients are also subject to warrantless searches of their homes at any time and names and addresses of those in the program are provided to local law enforcement officials.   Schweitzer believes such provisions to be violations of the 4th amendment, which protects Americans from unlawful searches and seizures as well as the  federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA.

if you’re taking OxyContin or penicillin or for God’s sake, even aspirin, that is your own personal health care records,” he said. But HB423 is “demanding” that the fact that someone is using medical marijuana and “be turned over to law enforcement in every town.

Schweitzer too acknowledged the black market appeal of the legislation,

“There’s another problem with it, and I think it’s a fundamental problem,” Schweitzer said. “Under this bill, I will guar-an-dang-tee-you, that there will be more illegal marijuana (that) makes it to the alley under this proposal than we currently have because now you’re going to have 4,000, 5,000, 6,000 people growing their own. It’s not possible to monitor all of them.”

“I mean does someone with a straight face think you can have 5,000 people growing their own and none of it makes it to high schools or to college dorm rooms?” he said.

A severability clause was included in the bill, which ensures that, in the event of a court ruling striking components of the legislation, other parts of the bill remain viable.  Because of its inclusion, Schweitzer believes that Essmann and other Republicans are well aware that the bill is unconstitutional.

“Why don’t you just pass something that works, that’s constitutional and that can survive the test of time?” he asked.

That sounds far too easy for the TEA people-inspired Montana GOP, however.  This shouldn’t be about politics, it should be about doing the right thing for the segment of the population who Montana’s original medical cannabis law was designed to protect.  In efforts to eradicate all state-sanctioned medical use of cannabis, Montana’s GOP lawmakers for the past 90 days have resorted to tears, lies, and dramatic stories intended to convince the legislative body and public that our state is now considered a “source nation, like Columbia” our youth are prostituting themselves for cannabis, and that caregivers are selling marijuana in middle and high schools across the state.  Oddly enough, there have been no arrests made for any of those particular crimes.

Sponsor of the bill, Jeff Essmann cited recent correspondence with federal officials who “clarified” federal policy  in his bid to save our state from the evils of cannabis.  No word on whether he used such correspondence to ensure Montana is in compliance with federal law regarding wolves or implementation of federal health care reforms however.  We are all aware that the federal government knows best anyway, right?

Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”
– Federal Bureau of Narcotics Chief Harry J. Anslinger, 1929

Republicans in Montana have been hammered by those on the right this session as well as the typical lefty critics after various testimonies  in reference to  blow-dart murders, appropriate state prison sentences for gay recruitment, and the dangers of punishing DUIs were publicized on numerous news programs. While Republicans across the nation- including several GOP presidential nomination hopefuls- are advocating sweeping  marijuana law reforms, Montana’s Republicans are determined to move backwards as they promote their dangerously myopic “morality” agenda.

President Obama’s Audacity of Dope


By now it is clear to most Americans that many of Barack Obama’s campaign promises were nothing more than hollow rhetoric.  Obama’s failure to deliver is a relief to most conservatives who weren’t excited about the prospects of net neutrality, higher taxes, and cap & trade legislation while Obama’s base is also livid with him because he didn’t fight hard enough for single payer health care or ending tax cuts for the wealthy, and he also failed to reform our immigration policy.  While shocking to virtually nobody, progressives expected more of Obama.  After all, he had also promised an unprecedented level of transparency.

Obama appears to be particularly hypocritical in his administration’s prosecutions of medical marijuana.  Obama made very specific promises regarding federal prosecution of medical marijuana facilities in states with medical marijuana laws in place.

The White House, in 2009 offered the following statement:

“The President believes that federal resources should not be used to
circumvent state laws, and as he continues to appoint senior
leadership to fill out the ranks of the federal government, he expects
them to review their policies with that in mind.”

Despite numerous vows to the contrary, only days after his inauguration, Obama allowed the DEA to raid multiple medical grow facilities in California and other medical marijuana states.  Since Obama took office, his administration has engaged in over 100 aggressive medical cannabis raids- in comparison to the Bush administration’s total of just over 200 raids…. in EIGHT entire years. When not engaging in raids, the Obama administration terrorizes medical marijuana patients and businesses via the IRS.   Americans for Safe Access, a medical cannabis advocacy organization,  has given Obama a failing grade for his medical cannabis policies.

It appears that Obama considers the cannabis-friendly crowd to be a  politically disposable bloc of voters, and maybe he is correct.  I suspect, however; that if Montanans come out of their cannabis closet- even if only to vote- that our state legislature will look VERY different in the 2013 legislative session. The question is how to effectively mobilize them- doing so has traditionally been a challenge.

Smaller government is a core belief of the Republican party- one would expect that allowing citizens, with their physicians, to choose the health therapy they prefer would fit into the smaller government component, but that isn’t always the case.  While the Republican-led Montana legislature should certainly be blamed for the fate of medical cannabis in the state (a repeal bill masquerading as a reform bill-  Senator Jeff Essmann’s SB 423- is likely on Governor Brian Schweitzer’s desk today), not all conservatives support a nanny-state government.  Milton Friedman’s criticism of the failed war on drugs was based on his devotion to the principles of limited government.  William Buckley, founder of the conservative National Review, supported legalization and mocked silly fear-based rhetoric utilized by prohibitionists.  Glenn Beck, Pat Buchanan, and 2012 GOP Presidential hopefuls  Ron Paul, and Gary Johnson also support legalization.

While Democrats have traditionally been credited with advocating cannabis reform, Obama has shown us via actions and policy that the Democrat Party does not necessarily support cannabis reform endeavors either.   We all need to ask our politicians- regardless of party affiliation and prior to primary elections- specifically how they feel about issues important to us all.

Hail Mary Jane: Montana’s Governor and the Fate of Medical Cannabis


Dear Governor Schweitzer:

 I humbly write,  in hopes that you will consider vetoing SB 423.  The legislation is not only contrary to the will of the people, but it endangers the very segment of the population the original bill was designed to benefit. I am a lifelong active and outspoken Republican-  never prior to this legislative session, however;  have I been so thankful to have a Democrat Governor.  I understand that you have come to an agreement on this issue with leaders of both houses and I can only pray that the medical cannabis patients and industry are not casualties of compromise.
The GOP is concerned about marijuana ruining our “rough and tough cowboy image”, but they should be far more concerned about the stereotypes their legislation and public statements are perpetuating.  The lunatics running our legislative branch have brought us plenty of media attention- from declaring DUI laws so oppressive that they ruin Montana’s way of life, birther bills, debates on returning to the gold standard or passing resolutions to remove our NATION from the UN to reinforcing current unconstitutional statutes making homosexual acts felonies and imposing the Code of the West on our citizens who don’t need a code to live by. Such negative publicity endangers our “cowboy” image far more than treating our infirm with compassion and dignity.
Regardless of whether or not you personally approve of the use and/or cultivation of medical cannabis, an industry has grown around a need.  This industry employs thousands of formerly unemployed Montanans- not only the approximately 5000 state-licensed caregivers but many carpenters, contractors, electricians, as well as employees of gardening supply shops, hardware stores, and security firms. It is irresponsible, arrogant and downright malicious to destroy an entire industry based on the majority party’s misguided idea of morality.
 The conference committee members freely admitted that they weren’t educated on the cultivation of cannabis nor were they familiar with the science behind the substance.  This was not, however; for lack of trying on the part of the industry.  We have emailed, called, made personal visits, opened our operations for legislators to tour, all to no avail.  It was clear at each hearing that the GOP legislators had an agenda to destroy the industry, regardless of our testimonies, emails, calls, and visits.  One particular legislator even went so far as to attack me for my views, sending my personal contact information to repeal proponents with the instructions to harass me. At an LCC fundraiser recently, the House majority leader, Rep. McGillvray, in his speech, lamented that Montana was “wasting so much money on meth prevention when the real problem in our state is medical marijuana”.  It is humiliating to me as a Republican to watch legislators I helped elect make such a mockery of our party, our legislative body, and our state.  These legislators are college-educated professionals yet they prefer to rely on their tired, self-righteous, and unfounded political rhetoric instead of accepting scientific data.
The GOP has been very selective in their interpretation and exploitation of the Constitution.  They condemn any federal intervention in the imposition of health care reform or protecting wolves yet when it suits their agenda, as in this case; they are quick to praise the federal government.   While the federal raids happened well over a month ago, there have still been no indictments- yet the Republicans in opposition to medical marijuana, use the raids to justify repealing our cannabis law and destroying an industry. None of the Montanans who were raided have been even charged with a crime let alone convicted of one.  Incessantly the prohibitionists rant about caregivers selling marijuana to school children, yet there have been no arrests of these conveniently unnamed individuals.  Most people in this industry would like to see such people arrested as such behavior puts our patients’ legal access at risk.
The legislative body has had 3 prior sessions to approve thoughtful medical cannabis legislation, they failed to do so.  Nobody could foresee the Ogden memo or it’s influence on the proliferation of patients in Montana but that does NOT mean that those patients do not suffer legitimately.  Who are our legislators- attorneys, businessmen, and ministers- to tell physicians that 15 patient recommendations warrants an automatic investigation at the doctor’s own expense?
SB 423 is an egregious example of economic terrorism. After Milburn’s precious repeal bill was vetoed, the majority party planned to deliver to you yet another repeal bill disguised as a regulatory/reform bill, hoping that it would satisfy your desire to regulate the industry.  Please do not be fooled by this masquerade- this legislation attacks our compassionate cannabis law on every level.
 Patients will most likely not be able to afford the necessary and onerous requirements to substantiate and confirm their conditions, physicians (who already shy away from recommending cannabis primarily due to stigma and bias, but also fear of federal prosecution and prohibition by medical facility administrations) will likely be more apt to prescribe a narcotic pain reliever- often to patients’ detriment. When prescribing Oxycontin, which related overdoses and drug interactions kill thousands of Americans annually- only one physician is needed.  When prescribing dependency-prone ADHD medications for CHILDREN- one of which is pharmaceutical methamphetamine- only one physician is required.  Physicians, who have successfully completed far more medical education than most of our legislators combined, should not be subject to this sort of legislation, which shows no respect for the position.
 Caregivers will not be able to afford to provide their services, skills, and wisdom on a strictly charitable basis. Advertisement bans will prevent patients from locating caregivers in their area- if there happen to be any, that is. Laboratories, which ensure quality control are prohibited. The conference committee clearly has no clue how expensive and labor-intense the cultivation of cannabis can be.  They are unfamiliar with patients’ needs, growing methods, potential for infestation, etc. Their moral agenda puts ill Montanans’ health and well-being in serious jeopardy.  Patients are often not only too ill or disabled to successfully cultivate their own medicine, they typically haven’t a clue how to do so.  Of the ones who are physically able, most don’t have the necessary space, lighting, ventilation, or moisture and temperature regulation required of the cannabis plant.  In addition to that, because providers under SB 423 don’t have the ability to legally  “buy or sell mature marijuana plants, seedlings, cuttings, clones, usable marijuana or marijuana-infused products, we have to wonder how patients will obtain them- or how they will deal with an infestation, an electricity failure, an accidental fertilization or a hermaphrodite plant without the ability to obtain these vital components of cannabis cultivation.
Most of us have turned little or no profits in this industry, but why should capitalism be condemned?  This legislation forces growers to not only work for no profit, growers cannot even be compensated for the expenses incurred in growing the medicine. Plant limits are reduced and growers are limited to three patients.  I suspect this will not be a problem- after all, the more plants one has, the more money the grower loses.  Legislators don’t work for free, I’m shocked and disturbed that they expect us to do so. Banning storefronts and advertising won’t be much of an issue- in fact, including those provisions is a waste of time and paper because common sense (which is seriously lacking in our legislature) tells us that storefronts and advertising require capital.  Providers are now essentially charities so I cannot comprehend how anyone on the conference committee would consider these restrictions necessary.
I understand that the GOP believes the law frivolously allows the recreational use of a federally banned substance and that they consider it at best, a  privilege.  That said, prohibiting Montanans from using the substance medically solely because they have committed crimes seems rather callous.  Are symptoms of debilitating diseases less valid because of sins of the past? Not only is it inhumane, this component of the legislation invalidates the use of cannabis as a MEDICINE which regressively validates those possessing the “marijuana is an illegal substance” stance.
I hope you are planning to utilize your “VETO” brand at least one more time this session,  and that you will consider doing so on SB 423. The lunacy of this legislative session has taught me some painful political lessons and although I realize that voters’ memories are historically short, mine is anything but.  Should you veto this bill, you will earn my respect and should you have political aspirations beyond  Montana’s Governor, I may even assist in your endeavors.  At the very least, I will try to restrain my bloggers from any unfair attacks and I give you my word that if you are criticized by Republicans for branding SB 423 with the VETO, I will defend that action as long as I live.  Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.  Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Sincerely,
Nicole French
SD 25/HD 50

Corporate and Cannabis Socialism, Montana Republicans Sell Out


Montana’s Republican-led 2011 legislature has taken its assault on liberty to the legislative finish line after approving legislation giving corporations unprecedented power via eminent domain as well as passing bills responsible for decreased patient access and the  inevitable destruction of the medical cannabis industry.

Common sense Republicans, like those of us at montanafesto, have been critical of the legislature since the session began.  A Republican friend working in Helena during the session said “it is frightening that the only ones making any sense in Helena are Democrats”.  Numerous posts via social media outlets summarize the session accurately but the only ones supportive of the Republicans  are typically from the Montana GOP itself or one of its pathetic party loyalists, and even those posts are all but disappearing.    A recent tweet by a Democrat operative said “you know when Rep Ellie Hill and Montanafesto are agreeing on issues, this session has gone off the rails.”  Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to have an admin of Left in the West promoting anything (here and here) written by any of our bloggers let alone myself.

The outrage is not limited to Montana bloggers, Tweeters and Facebookers, however.  Even the Republican Liberty Caucus is disgusted with Montana’s legislature.  In a post entitled “Montana Republicans Sell out for Big Government“, the author writes about the Montana GOP:

they are not committed to common sense government at all, but are instead beholden to special interests, corporate socialism, and the nanny state.

Most of the GOP legislators who supported the nanny state-style measures were TEA party-supported.  The TEA party, whose power and size appears to be diminished, likely in part due to this sort of  hypocrisy, should be up in arms about Montana’s Republican legislators, but I haven’t heard a peep from them. In all fairness, that could be in part due to the fact that local leaders blocked me on Facebook after I began questioning their motives and practices.  I believe that  inconsistencies between the TEA party’s stated positions and actions of its leaders are contributing to the decline and ultimate demise of the TEA party.  The defense of liberty will continue, with or without the TEA party.

According to LibertarianRepublican.net

 “Sounding like something straight out of an Ayn Rand novel, a renewable energy corporation out of Canada is pushing legislation to allow for seizure of private property rights in Eastern Montana. The Bill pits small landowners such as ranchers in Eastern Montana, against government-backed corporate interests and many environmental groups in support of renewable energy.”

One exception, Rep. Mike Miller, who was noted with Rep Jerry O’Neill as opposing the big government measures, said via Facebook:

I am surprised by some of the “liberty loving” reps. that voted to repeal and that let their personal anti-drug feelings override their principles for less government and a persons right to control his own body.

A blogger at 4 and 20 Blackbirds, early in the session summarized Montana’s GOP hypocrisy accurately:

The Montana GOP loves them some freedom, but only when its smothered in their own special GOP brand of Freedom Sauce. While they push issues such as setting up local militias, givingsheriffs ultimate local law enforcement authority, giving healthcare providers freedom to deny services to patients because of differing morals, and expanding individual gun rights including no longer needing a permit to carry a concealed weapon; on many other issues currently up for debate in Helena the GOP is proving that they want to curtail local decision-making and even the role that individual citizens play in politics and policy making.

Perhaps the biggest GOP attack on individual freedoms in Montana is the GOP’s push to override voter initiates and weaken the voter initiative process in the future. If Montana voters had passed initiatives banning abortion or abolishing the state’s DEQ I’m sure conservatives would be praising the Montana citizenry’s grounded and well thought out votes.

If nothing else, I’ve grown through this session- not only into a very disgruntled Republican, but also as a blogger and a person. If LITW and even Montana Cowgirl can be in agreement, even if only occasionally, with those of us at montanafesto, there is hope for our state.  I look forward to a day where Rep Ken Peterson-style statements are condemned not only by Democrats or even Peterson’s own Republican Party, but by everyone- as Montanans and as human beings.


Speaker Milburn: Please Control Representative James Knox


Representative James Knox, Continues to Dig his Hole

I’d sure appreciate if Montana’s Speaker of the House, Mike Milburn, would assert some control over his representatives. I’m tired of defending their actions as well as defending myself FROM them, one in particular.  James Knox sent me an email a few minutes ago.

from Rep. Knox <james@vote4knox.com>
to Nicole French
cc Alicia Knox <alicia@kbscs.com>
date Fri, Apr 8, 2011 at 3:00 PM
subject My lawyer will

Nicole,

I and my wife have printed all conversations and the message you have posted on the web is not in any of our history.  I ask that you email me the date your claim of this valid message else I will be taking legal action for slander against my wife.

Your call, I will.

James

_______________________________

 

James Knox, you asked for it so you’ve got it!  The date in question is April 5, 2011.  Would you care to look at the screenshot again?  Although I do actually like your lovely wife Alicia, I don’t care for dishonest politicians.  Just one time, I’d appreciate if you could accept the blame and move on- you could even try apologizing for your increasingly improper behavior. If I were you, I would be more concerned about the other allegations circling about you.  Here’s a screenshot anyway though, watch for any grammatical mistakes, as I’m sure they are the fault of someone else, perhaps George Soros.  I feel the need to remind you that Mr. Knox would NEVER use poor grammar….


Oh, but it gets even worse.  This evening, in reply to a letter sent by Hiedi Handford of Montana Connect Magazine, Rep Knox responded in a delightful manner- the exchange is as follows:

On Fri, 8 Apr 2011 15:28:05 -0600, “Rep. James Knox” wrote:

Montana’s across the state have clearly said repeal it.
Thank you,
Rep. James Knox
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES KNOX House District 47
406-534-9582
____________________________________
From: Hiedi Handford [mailto:hiedi@mtconnectmagazine.com]
Sent: Friday, April 08, 2011 3:32 PM
To: Rep. James Knox
Subject: RE: A message from the “Scourge” 

You are so full of shit Knox. Look beyond your own damned nose……

Oh – and you and your wife celebrating patients suffering? What a nice couple you are…….”I’m glad we can take medicine away from people who need it”

Please move back to whatever rock you climbed out from under in whatever state you came from. You most certainly are NOT a Montanan.

Montana Connect Magazine
P.O. Box 432
Lincoln, MT 59639
~ We Bring Integrity & Credibility to the Medical Cannabis Industry~

_________________________________
On Fri, 8 Apr 2011 15:37:19 -0600, “Rep. James Knox” wrote:

 

FYI that post is slanderous and photo shopped I have initiated legal actions. If you actually can believe my wife would actually say that or I would in such poor English say something. Your high. Oh you are.
Thank you,
Rep. James Knox
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES KNOX House District 47
406-534-9582
“There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily.” George Washington, letter to Edmund Randolph, July 31, 1795
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Knox, by informing others that I used Photoshop to create a false post from Alicia Knox that he claims doesn’t actually exist (although it did before it was deleted) he is actually slandering ME.  Admonishing Hiedi over his unwillingness to use poor English gave me a chuckle because the post in question was actually one of his finer ones grammatically speaking. To mock a legitimate cannabis patient, calling her “high”, however; is reprehensible.
I must admit that posts about Knox were initially sort of sickly entertaining but now, I’m over it.  I’m tired of him hearing of his antics.  I’m tired of him mocking critically ill Montana voters, I’m tired of paying his salary and $733/mo health benefits, and I’m tired of him embarrassing the Republican Party (of which I’m a disgruntled member) and most of all, I’m tired of his actions contributing to our legislature’s public humiliation.  A biennial legislative session shouldn’t remind us of a Jerry Springer or Days of our Lives episode.

Do we really want someone like this representing us?

Interested in more information about James Knox? See the following links:

Eating our Own, A How to Manual By Rep James Knox

James Knox: Montanafesto Links

James Knox: Montana Cowgirl Blog Links

James Knox: Intelligent Discontent Links

James Knox: 4&20 Blackbirds Links

Perhaps you’d like to watch him cry?

Here are some more screenshots for your viewing pleasure.  I didn’t use photoshop on them- they are disgusting enough without alteration.  Click on each thumbnail to expand to full size.



 

Real Montana Scourge: Medical Marijuana or ‘Moral’ Majority


You may recall from last month, Montana’s 2011 Legislature earned failing grades in a Billings Gazette poll in which Montana voters were asked to judge the performance of the legislative body, led by Montana Republicans. In fact, only 24% gave the legislature a positive rating.  Judging from recent events, I’m left to wonder if perhaps they are striving for a new low.

The Republicans, by ignoring constituents and engaging in the sort of behavior conservatives  typically would associate with Nancy Pelosi have alienated even the most loyal supporters this session.   Our legislature is truly out of hand, as evidenced by my frequent anti-hypocrisy posts.  There is something very wrong when I cannot find even one liberal who is more deserving of criticism than those in the leadership of my own party. The Republicans, with a few exceptions; are downright obsessed with meddling in the private affairs of Montanans. Don’t forget about the the national coverage our state has received for frivolous legislation and unbelievable comments made by our GOP legislators…. this situation is unreal.  I am personally embarrassed.

* Below is a clip of Representative Ellie Hill of Missoula boldly defending the medical cannabis industry and patients prior to Representative Dave Howard of Park City, with contempt in his voice, referring to marijuana as a poison and of course, a “scourge”.  Conveniently, Howard also manages to casually blame the Governor Brian Schweitzer for the legislature’s refusal inability to pass thoughtful legislation regulating the medical cannabis industry- because the governor hasn’t “told ANYBODY what he plans to do” with HB 161.

*Representative Ken Peterson of Billings publicly stated that although the Supreme Court of the United States as well as the Montana Supreme Court has ruled a Montana law criminalizing homosexuals to be unconstitutional, he believes there are at least two violations of the law he would consider enforceable. The first of those criminal acts is the “recruitment” of non-gays by gays. I never realized when hanging out with our homosexual friends we were in so much danger. Thanks for letting me know, Rep. Peterson! He also believes that the Supreme Court decisions apply only to homosexual acts behind closed doors, so any public display of homosexuality would be fair game for potential enforcement by the MONTaliban officers.  Read all about Rep. Peterson’s raging homophobia here.

Reverend Harris Himes has been making the rounds- from testifying on behalf of Montana Eagle Forum, his congregation (yes, he is a pastor) and God.  He lectured committee members about repealing the medical use of marijuana and in favor of discrimination of gays, at one point even declaring that homosexuals should be put to death.  Himes finally explains exactly WHY the use and cultivation of marijuana should be prohibited here.  His proximity to God lends credibility and relevance to the pastor’s testimony.

The bigoted legislators and self-righteous individuals mentioned above do not represent the Montana in which I have spent my entire life and if they are considered moral creatures, I’m content being lumped in with the “scourge”.