Guest Post: Lessons I learned from Montana’s Medical Marijuana Movement


Written by: ScienceNerd

I have never been particularly politically active, but the de facto repeal of Montana’s Medical Marijuana Program by the 2011 legislature got me fired up.  Adding insult to injury was the defeat of I-124.  What events or attitudes on the part of supporters and those opposed led to the defeat of our MMJ program?  Why did a program with the initial support of 60%+ of the population of Montana go down so decisively?

We can all agree that it is a multi-faceted issue involving diverse attitudes and motivations.  We have the vested interest of the judicial and correctional systems and the prison industrial complex which derive income from the illegality of cannabis.  Then there’s the ignorance of legislators like Rep. David Howard, who contend that “Marijuana Kills!”, and rely on fear in order to stay in power.  We can’t neglect to mention the “Think of the Children” faction lead by the good Cherrie Brady and Church Ladies Inc.  The aspect I would like to focus on, however, is how we defeated ourselves.

At the height of the movement there were some 30,000 people in Montana with medical marijuana cards.  Thousands of cultivators and supportive businesses accommodated the cardholders.  In my view, it was the perfect example of the free market acting as it should.  Growers were in competition with each other to produce the best product at the lowest price, yet stay viable as a business.  You could see the results.  MMJ was available readily, and the price was cut in half from the black market price.  Businesses were popping up and thriving.  And yet, I heard members of the MMJ community talking about the “greed” of the growers.  These people apparently wanted access to marijuana, didn’t want to grow their own, but didn’t want the growers to make a good profit either.  So what if the growers might face life in prison for conducting their business.  In the eyes of these entitled individuals, that was no excuse for wanting to have a profitable business and not selling it dirt cheap. In my opinion, profitable small businesses contribute to affordability and quality of the product, and ensure a constant supply.  Yet members of the MMJ community were angered by those who sought to make a sustainable business with a profit.

When Patients For Reform Not Repeal was formed, I was amazed at what they were able to accomplish.  To obtain the number of signatures they gathered was a feat that should be admired by all of us, and gratitude should go out to those that made it happen.  And yet, even within that group, there was fighting and posturing.  The good of the cause was threatened by some who felt they weren’t appreciated enough or didn’t like how the organization was being run.  The same could be said of the MTCIA.  These people are solely responsible for the fact that those who cannot grow have access to their medicine now.   The service they have done to the community is HUGE.  And yet they are attacked on all sides by their alleged supporters.

One aspect of the MMJ movement that I was not at all prepared for was the resistance by many in the movement to modern medicine.  Some of the most vocal proponents were also vocal proponents of alternative medicine, and vocal opponents of modern medicine, doctors and medications.  I think the choice one makes when it comes to the philosophy of medicine one practices is a personal thing, and that all choices should be respected.  I, personally, use both alternative and modern medical approaches to health issues and decide which I think is appropriate for the particular issue.  But many in the MMJ movement came in fighting both FOR the use as marijuana as medicine and AGAINST modern medicine at the same time.  They wanted marijuana to be accepted as a medicine when it hadn’t undergone the rigorous testing and evaluations that other approved medicines have been subjected to.  In the next breath they denounced accepted medicines and medical research, and even discounted medical theories that have long been proven and accepted by the scientific community and general population.  I can’t list how many times I heard “Look at the science,” from people who didn’t believe in vaccines, antibiotics or cancer treatments.  I think this ruined much of the credibility for the movement in the portion of the populace that is not involved in the movement but that had formerly been in favor of medical marijuana.

The way medicine works in America today is that drugs go through a rigorous process to be approved to be used as prescribed medicine.  Usually cell studies are followed by studies in animals that are followed by studies in humans.  It is estimated that it takes at least $1.3 billion and an average of 12 years to bring a new drug to market.  Much of this money is spent figuring out exactly what diseases and conditions the drug works on and what the effective doses are.  Routes of administration are investigated and the most efficient ways determined.  The fact is that not enough of these studies have been done yet with MMJ.  There are a lot of promising pilot studies, but the details have not been worked out.  Legalization of MMJ has helped a lot, but not enough time has passed to do all that needs to be done.  The only way marijuana will enter mainstream medicine will be via the approach of the makers of Marinol and Sativex .  They have spent billions of dollars to do the studies with the purified components that they can deliver in a constant dose each and every time.   In my opinion, this will never be done with the whole plant product because it is too variable, too expensive and too scientifically difficult. Smoking as a delivery route is problematic in the medical community because there is probable harm associated with it.  While I am quite sure that marijuana has medicinal properties, the extent of the properties and the appropriate dosages are still being determined.

I think that the way to get marijuana into our society in a mainstream way is not to fight modern medicine and Big Pharma, but to fight for the basic rights we have as American citizens to do what we want with our bodies as long as it hurts no one else.  We need to fight for full-out legalization.  We deserve to have the choice of marijuana as both a medical and a recreational substance.  Legal marijuana will benefit not just those who use it medicinally, but the millions of us who just plain like to relax with it too. And if we are to win this fight, we need to do it selflessly and without the need for gratitude.  Let’s do it for ourselves!

 

Guest Post: Election 2012 Marijuana in Montana


by rideyourax

Updated Nov. 14, 2012

The votes are counted. Below is some Montana election 2012 trivia when it comes to the cannabis issue.

I-124 was the initiative that gave Montanans the opportunity to vote on the law passed by the 2011 legislature to dismantle medical marijuana access. The initiative was put on the ballot by the efforts of medical marijuana advocates.

Some trivia:

The ballot item most voters voted on was the Tester/Rehberg race for Montana’s lone Senate seat: 486,098 votes

The number of voters who voted on I-124: 469,631

The number of voters who skipped voting on I-124: 16,467

If all those who skipped voting on I-124 voted against the initiative, the number the initiative still would have passed by is: 51,610 votes

There were 16 ballot items that all Montana voters had the opportuniy to vote on. The three items that received the  least attention from voters (were skipped on the ballot)

  1. Supreme Court Justice #6 Brian Morris yes/no: 418,898I-166
  2. Supreme Court Justice# 5 McKinnon/Sheehy: 419,691
  3. Clerk of the Supreme Court Smith/Fellows: 429,870I-124

I-124 came in 6th for least voted on ballot item.

In September, the poll most referenced by I-124 sponsoring group, Patients for Reform Not Repeal, indicated 30% against the initiative and 46% for. These numbers were often presented by the group as “good” numbers as it is generally believed an initiative needs 60% going in to win and that the undecided or confused would break “against.” About 25% were undecided.

Of the undecideds (about 121,524 voters):

About 14% remained undecided

About 65%  voted against

About 37% voted for

I-124 passsed by 14.5% with 57.25% for and 42.75 against for a net gain of about 1.5% against the initiative since the September poll.

Only Galletin county reached 50% for an “against” vote on I-124 at 50.10%

9 counties broke 45% against I-124

Top three counties for an “against” vote:

Gallatin: 50.10%

Park: 49.85%

Missoula: 49.25%

Overall outcomes:

  • Success of  an initiative advocates wanted to fail
  • SB 423  supported by voters
  • The campaign serves a tool to club the advocates with (“the voters’ will”)
  • Advocates can’t claim it passed because voters didn’t understand because when those opposed to medical marijuana said it was confusing, PFRNR suggested their  inability to understand the ballot was a matter of them being too dumb to understand it. (Of course, it was confusing. Obfuscating, even. Everybody knows that. The crafters knew that. It was discussed as confusing since  July/August of 2011 . If “confusing” was a strategy, whether it was or wasn’t a “bad” strategy might be debated. But empirically, it was a failed one.  However, crafters say this wasn’t the case.)
  • The data from the election provides very little information about support for reasonable marijuana legislation and medical access because of the language. With the signature gathering campaign to get I-124 on the ballot, for example, even if it had failed, it provided a resource  – a list of names of people willing to sign in a supportive way a petition regarding marijuana. Even if some were signing from a voters’ rights perspective, the fact that it was about marijuana didn’t scare them off. If the election data had meaning it could be used to discuss with future candidates the level of support in their districts. It provides some information as is, but not much and it’s not reliable. Losing isn’t always losing if you get something out of it, and in a long term movement, a campaign should be designed from the start to make sure that happens.  That way, even a defeat gives you something to build on. All this left was a wake of floating junk.

This is a bad outcome. Blame is silly. Evaluation is important. Many citizen-advocates of Montana have worked hard and many far beyond the call of any duty. Patients for Reform Not Repeal and Montana First are the same folks, from both in-state and out-of-state. Same bankroll. This outcome was foreseen from more than a year out as the likely result without the proper follow-thru. Their legalization initiative earlier this year was another effort that failed to pan out not because of lack of support in the electorate, but lack of strategy, poor interpersonal relations, and failed implementation. At least $100,000 has been wasted. Those with the purse run the show. If they will continue to be doing so in Montana, hopefully, there will be some evaluation of efforts and some troubleshooting so that future efforts might be more successful.

At this time, the Montana Cannabis Industry Association’s (MTCIA)  lawsuit, once again, is the only tool for protecting access.

On the success side, two critical elections in Montana do appear to have been impacted by the cannabis voter. In the Governor’s race, Steve Bullock won by a narrow 1.55%.  Up until quite late in the race, single issue cannabis voters were intending to withhold their vote or throw it to Libertarian candidate Ron Vandevender who received 3.75 % of the vote. When Bullock came out against I-124, many Democrat- leaning cannabis voters threw their support his way. Rick Hill did not give Republican-leaning cannabis voters the same choice. In this Red-leaning state, it is no stretch to see the cannabis vote, both for Bullock and Vanevender, having had played a decisive role in the race.

In the race for Montana’s lone Senate seat, Libertarian candidate Dan Cox earned a respectable 6.55% of the vote. Though neither Tester nor Rehberg were considered good on the cannabis issue, Cox’s pro-cannabis position pulled votes from the Rehberg pile handing Tester the race by 3.73%. So though not electing a pro-cannabis candidate, the cannabis vote, nonetheless, demonstrated the ability to tip an election, and despite the outcome on I-124, the cannabis vote proved its mettle.

SRelated articles

What exactly IS AG candidate Pam Bucy’s position on medical marijuana? UPDATED WITH BUCY’S RESPONSE


The following collection of statements from Montana Attorney General Candidate Pam Bucy (D) indicates her position on medical marijuana is confusing at best.

From Q2 News:  As Montana’s top law enforcement official, how do you plan on enforcing the state’s medical marijuana law while balancing federal law which says marijuana is illegal?

“I support the people’s right to pass law by initiative, and I will enforce Montana’s medical marijuana law to ensure that the patients who need this therapy have access without fear of prosecution.

One of the issues Montana has faced in regard to our medical cannabis law is a lack of clarity on how the federal government will enforce their laws. As attorney general I’ll work with other attorneys general in the country to get clarification from the federal government on their enforcement strategy. This will allow us to have a clear picture of how we can enforce the law in a way that will protect patients while ensuring that law enforcement have no question about the law and are supported in their enforcement of the law as passed by the people of Montana.”

Bucy, while representing the Police Protective Association in 2011 Legislative hearings, opposed SB326, which expanded the list of  the list of diseases treatable by medical marijuana to include diabetes, hepatitis C and post-traumatic stress disorder. Bucy said

“We respectfully disagree with proponents that this is in line with what the voters of Montana agreed to.”

And the latest twist in the Bucy flip-flopping saga is the following email sent from a reader (name and email address removed).

Yet, in the Lone Tree Lookout, Bucy said the following in response to the question “What’s your perspective on citizen created ballot initiatives?”

To be honest, I love the process. It’s such a grassroots way for people to participate in making policy. It is direct legislation by the people. It is refreshing and you don’t find that everywhere. I really do support it but it allows some reactionary issues to make their way to the ballot. Because some of them haven’t been necessarily well vetted, there are often problems. But, I spent a lot of my time in the Attorney General’s office defending citizen initiatives, and I will continue to do that because I think it’s an important role in Montana, to make sure people continue to have direct access to legislating.

If we are to believe Bucy’s own words, we are rather confused on her stance.  She supports the right to pass legislation by initiative yet she opposes I-148, an initiative passed by 62% of Montanans. She opposes SB-423, the ridiculous stealth repeal that Sen. Jeff Essmann sponsored and passed right before the ending bell of the 2011 Legislative Session but she also opposes opposes allowing Hepatitis C patients access to medical marijuana.  I recently took some heat from the medical marijuana community for refusing to note Bucy as cannabis-friendly in the montanafesto 2012 Cannabis Voters Guide.  I stand by my assessment- she is listed as neutral as the jury is still out of Pam.

Hopefully Pam’s campaign will clarify her position on this important issue.  Her opponent, Tim Fox has a significant lead according to the most recent polling data.

10/29/2012:  Bucy’s response is as follows:

I strongly support the citizen’s right to initiative, and I support I-148.  I oppose efforts to repeal initiatives as passed by the citizens of the state of Montana. I voted against IR-124. While on the road, I mistakenly responded to an email where I mixed up the initiative numbers. This was a typo, not a switch in position.  In my work with law enforcement, we strove to implement this law in a way that stayed true to the spirit of the initiative. As you know, there is a fundamental conflict of law with the federal government which has made patients fearful of prosecution. As Attorney General, I will work with the federal government and with other states who have passed this initiative to find a workable solution to ensure patients get the therapy they need.

Please continue to reach out to me if you have further questions about my positions on these important issues.– Pam

 

AGAINST Senate Bill 423


Whether you are a Republican, Democrat, or something else entirely, please vote AGAINST Senate Bill 423.  Disease and suffering transcend political ideology and this bill hurts the people that Montana’s medical marijuana program was enacted to protect.  Any questions?

Rep. Dave Howard shares his infinite wisdom


The following photo was posted on the Facebook wall of Rep. David Howard (R-HD-60).  I’m not sure any further commentary is necessary.

Marijuana according to Rep. Dave Howard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was posted along with this letter from Safe Community, Safe Kids.

The Montana Cannabis Industry Association has organized an effort to repeal SB423.THE LANGUAGE FOR THEIR INITIATIVE, I-124, IS CONFUSING ON PURPOSE!! THIS IS TO TRICK YOU INTO VOTING AGAINST, WHICH IS VOTING FOR, AN UNCONTROLLED CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE.

The Legislature did not overturn the will of the people with SB423, instead they took medical marijuana back to what voters initially voted for.SB423 effectively eliminates the FOR PROFIT CRIMINAL MARIJUANA industry that Montanans never voted for and do not want.

SENATE BILL 423 IS WORKING.
Since it’s passing, the number of registered medical marijuana users has dropped from 30,000 to 8,849, the number of providers has dropped from 4,800 to 395, and many of the storefronts are disappearing. With the law imposing additional requirements for minors to obtain cards, there are now only 2 cards holders under the age of 18.

On Initiative 124 vote[X] FOR Senate Bill 423, a bill which repeals I-148 and enacts a new medical marijuana program.

[ ]AGAINST Senate Bill 423, a bill which repeals I-148 and enacts a new medical marijuana program. A vote against Senate Bill 423 will restore I-148.

Stop the Pot Industry
Please SHARE with family and friends.

Montana Cannabis Voter’s Guide 2012


As always, cannabis law reform is a big campaign issue this election year although Montana’s “moral” majority is unlikely to acknowledge that inconvenient fact.  Montanans understand that there is nothing “moral” about maintaining harsh criminal penalties, limiting (and in most cases, eliminating) access to necessary medicines, and allowing and/or inviting federal intervention in our state’s medical marijuana program.  We are confident that Montana will vote accordingly.

The 2012 Montana Cannabis Voter’s Guide serves as a resource for Montana voters who consider liberty a priority.  In numerous districts, prohibitionists are running unopposed unfortunately, but in others, we have an opportunity to make a difference.  We’ve compiled statements, video from previous sessions, actual voting records, endorsements and other sources of information when deciding if a candidate is supportive or opposed to our cause. We have heard very little from some candidates but are hopeful we will know more by the time that absentee ballots arrive in our mailboxes in a few weeks.      As we are apprised of new information-  additional MTCIA endorsements, statements to the media, etc- this guide will be updated to reflect such data.

Should any candidates or voters have any questions about specific races or candidates or wish to provide relevant information, please email Nic (montanafesto@live.com).

Not All Outlaws are Criminals: “Code of the West” Film Review


On the eve of the day in which approximately half of all voting Montanans will receive their 2012 primary election mail-in ballots, I dedicated some time to reviewing “Code of the West“, a documentary account of the rise and fall of Montana’s medical marijuana industry, thanks to the Montana Legislature’s obsession with eliminating this “scourge” from Montana.  Directed by Rebecca Richman Cohen, an Emmy award nominated filmmaker, “Code of the West” was a grim but generally accurate portrayal of the events surrounding Montana’s 62nd legislative session.  The footage of our great state was beautiful and the final result was a truly impartial look at medical marijuana in Montana.

Medical marijuana is a contentious issue in Montana and emotions run high on all sides of the topic. Richman Cohen accomplished something I thought was impossible.  While still unlikable, I didn’t despise Cherrie Brady, whose group “Safe Community, Safe Kids” was largely responsible for the rapid decline of legislative support for regulatory marijuana legislation,  nearly as much as I did during the legislative session.  The movie portrayed Brady as someone who was convinced of her beliefs and obviously committed to maintaining the lies behind prohibition.  It seems like many religious people feel they need to remove all temptation and risk from the lives of their children and spouses in order to live a virtuous existence and Cherrie is no exception.  With those thoughts in mind, I have decided she is no longer deserving of my enmity, I’ve decided instead to pity her.  Education is the key to overcoming ignorance, but first we must overcome fear.

I am very thankful that some of the clowns Montanans elected to represent us in our legislature won’t be returning in the 2013 session.  Mike Milburn, Speaker of the House and sponsor of HB 161, the marijuana repeal bill is termed out of the house.  Rep. James Knox, sobbing on cue in the documentary footage as he claimed the repeal was necessary to “save other people’s brothers” from the evils of marijuana, has thankfully moved to Texas.  The entire house of representatives and over half of the senate is up for reelection this June (primary) and November (general election).

Although each election is portrayed as the most important in our lifetime, this election is crucial to Montana’s future.  Marijuana didn’t destroy our state’s rough and tough cowboy image… the blame for that is placed squarely on our elected officials. They are quick to tell the feds to stay out of our healthcare, let us deal with our own wolves, and that they will pry our guns from our cold, dead hands yet when marijuana providers were being raided and robbed by our government, they not only didn’t protest, they welcomed federal intrusion.  Montana isn’t represented by strong, rugged leaders, we have spineless yes-men eager to toe the party line to protect their political future.  It is time we stand up to them and send a serious message on election day, that we are a force to be reckoned with.

Much has occurred since completion of the documentary.  Parts of SB 423, the legislature’s virtual repeal of Montana’s medical marijuana law have yet to be implemented as a result of a temporary court injunction.  Naturally, the state of Montana has appealed that ruling and oral arguments are scheduled before Montana’s Supreme Court on May 30.  Countless Montanans have lost everything they own as a result of asset forfeiture, whether or not they were ever indicted by the feds.  Those who were indicted also lost their freedom to the federal government’s unconscionable war on drugs.  Tom Daubert, one of the film’s primary characters, an indicted co-owner of Montana Cannabis, has cut a deal with the government as have nearly all of those indicted as a result of the March 2011 raids.  So far, nobody has been brave enough to test the government in court and the feds have in most cases offered very attractive deals to cooperative witnesses.  Perhaps though, the tides are changing.  Chris Lindsey, one of Daubert’s former business partners plans to take the case to trial.  Although he essentially faces a mandatory minimum life sentence, he believes in the cause enough to fight for his freedom and thus, for our rights.  As Chris faces a lifetime behind bars, the least we can all do is show up in vast numbers to vote for the candidates who are friendly to our cause.  For more information on those candidates, see the 2012 Montana Cannabis Voters Guide.  As more information becomes available, the guide will be updated.  Primary elections are Tuesday, June 5.

Want to see “Code of the West” for yourself?  Screenings of the film will be shown in cities across Montana May 15 – May 23.  For details on dates, times and locations- as well as information about the discussion panels to follow the screening, check this link.  We realize that this is an emotional issue,  but we would ask that those attending the screening refrain from any negative behavior.  We have the truth on our side, why contribute to the inaccurate image our opposition has painted for us?  Tolerance may not provide instant gratification, but in the end, it will be worth it.

Pastimes of the Virtuous


                                                                                                                                             

Righteous David Howard, whose is apparently a minister of the Lord, enjoys very interesting videos in his spare time.

Screenshots like this don’t require further commentary.  Thankfully Rep. David Howard, of Montana’s GOP God Squad infamy, has a contested primary June 5.  Republicans may want to check out his conservative competition- Kathy Harman and Dale Milligan.  Democrat Jim Dickey will face the winner of the primary in November to battle for HD 60.

Other than that, I’m pretty speechless.

 

UPDATED: Honest Abe or Smarmy Swindler: Who is the Real Ken Miller?


A Pinocchio costume may be more appropriate

In the nick of time, about a week before absentee ballots are mailed, the Great Falls Tribune today broke shocking allegations of GOP Gubernatorial hopeful Ken Miller‘s corrupt campaign finance practices. View the Office of Political Practices complaint here. According to the Tribune,

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Ken Miller’s former chief fundraiser on Wednesday accused Miller’s campaign of misreporting funds, accepting campaign donations over the statutory contribution limits, accepting anonymous donations, and failing to disclose certain campaign expenditures.

Ken Miller’s utterly laughable response appeared in today’s Billings Gazette:

“We’re obviously viewed as a threat and seen as a front-runner,” Miller said in a telephone interview. “I think for the most part people will see through it.”

Miller, the tea people favorite, bills himself as the honest, Christian conservative.  In fact, his own campaign website humbly mentions,

 It has been whispered that Ken Miller is “too honest for politics”.   Ken Miller is guilty as charged.

In his latest campaign video, Susan Smith, wife of legislator Cary Smith and co-founder of the delightful group “Safe Community, Safe Kids” extols the many virtues of Mr. Miller.  According to Susan, who “knows Ken to be a humble, God-fearing man”, Miller believes in traditional family values and the sanctity of life.  She says “he is a man in whom we can trust”, that he believes in the Constitution and would uphold it.  One supporter mentions how she and her husband met Ken Miller at a parade in which he was donning an Abraham Lincoln costume.  All very interesting.  Watch the campaign video here.

According to Kelly Bishop, who served as his campaign finance director from January until April 14, when she resigned, she found at least $14,000 in campaign contributions that were not reported in Miller’s C-5.  Bishop said she left the position with the Miller campaign after seeing practices within the campaign that made her sick to her stomach. She claims that numerous anonymous donations and credit card transactions were not reported properly, that Miller accepted donations over Montana’s statutory limits and that Miller wasn’t reporting payroll taxes.  This directly affected Bishop’s pay as her salary was commission based on the total fundraising receipts she generated. Bishop said:

“I inquired about it in March, I brought it up to Ken and (his wife) Peggy at the time.  They said it was none of my business and I was not to worry about that part of the campaign.”

Naturally, Miller denies her allegations and throws Bishop under the bus states,

 “My family, campaign staff and I hold no ill will toward Mrs. Bishop, but are saddened by her decision to attack our campaign with frivolous, untruthful accusations. We’ve run an honest campaign and are confident that the (Commissioner) will agree.”

In response, Miller said, “We’ve run an honest campaign and are confident that the COPP (commissioner of political practices) will agree.”

“We kind of got blindsided. Unfortunately, she’s not being truthful.”

These allegations cast serious doubt not only on Miller’s integrity, but on his ability to govern our state.  Even if these discrepancies are proven to be unintentional, how on earth can we trust him as Governor of the state of Montana?  The Miller campaign is usually the first to lob nasty allegations at the other candidates and party insiders have long, borrowing Ken’s word, “whispered” that Miller mismanaged funds as State Chairman of the Republican Party.  Perhaps this is simply political karma.

These allegations will surely come as a disappointment to Miller’s base- the conservative, Christian, constitutional segment of Montanans.   In a crowded (7 way) Republican Gubernatorial campaign, this is likely the end for the Miller campaign.  For the family values conservatives, I would suggest donating to the Corey Stapleton campaign and for the mermaid/insurance/lobbyist/quitter lovers out there, Rick Hill.

Bishop’s sudden departure isn’t the only shake up within the Miller camp, his former campaign manager William Mutch’s tenure with the sinking ship was similarly brief. One can only imagine why Mr Mutch abruptly left the campaign, especially after stating on the campaign website that his entire career had culminated on that moment.  I tend to be especially critical of religious hypocrites, remember Harris Himes? I can only imagine how disheartened Miller’s supporters are right now.   I think it is time Ken Miller finds a new costume for parades, Honest Abe doesn’t seem fitting.  Might I suggest Pinocchio?

Tampering Jury Pools with Federal “Truth”


Today Montana’s headlines blare “Federal Warrant Issued for 1980′s Montana Mountain Man” after federal indictments of former partners of the now-defunct medical marijuana business, Montana Cannabis Inc. were unsealed.  Montana’s media offers a sensational headline as well as a dramatic, emotional story to match- that is, if you are willing to buy the federal government’s version of the truth.

You may recall the story of the Nichols duo, Don and his son Dan, who kidnapped world class biathlete Kari Swenson while she was training in the mountains near Big Sky, Montana.   The notorious Montana “mountain men” also murdered one of Swenson’s friends after he stumbled upon their hideout in the woods.  Kari Swenson’s lung was punctured after Dan Nichols accidentally shot her during an armed standoff. She survived the injury and went on to win a bronze medal in the world biathlon championships after being rescued.  Dan Nichols was released in 1991 after serving six years in prison for the crimes.  His father is still in prison but is up for parole April 27.

Dan Nichols has been charged as an indicted co-conspirator with Chris Williams as well as Chris Lindsey, a Missoula attorney who actually left Montana Cannabis in January of 2010.  What is so outrageous about the indictment is the bizarre conspiracy that the government has invented.  First of all, Chris Lindsey, to the best of his knowledge, has never laid eyes upon Dan Nichols, nor has he heard of him.  He was apparently brought on board by Chris Williams, who remained with Montana Cannabis until March of 2011, when federal raids shut down the business.

Apparently, in the eyes of the feds, if you are EVER involved with a “criminal enterprise”, you are not allowed to quit.  You are also responsible for all  crimes that are committed by any subsequent partner or employee of said “criminal enterprise” for eternity.  Fourteen months prior to the 2011 federal raids, Chris Lindsey left Montana Cannabis after disputes over the manner in which the business was being operated.  Apparently that isn’t good enough for the feds.  He is now being lumped in with a kidnapper and murderer who he has never met, never spoken to, never even heard of.  Why?  Because sexy stories sell newspapers and when people read them, they believe them.  The feds know that prohibition is on shaky ground in the US, jurors across the nation are not only expressing reluctance to convict marijuana “criminals”, many consider prosecution of these people, especially in states that have legalized medical use of marijuana, to be a colossal waste of taxpayer funds.   Fortunately for the feds, the media is easily manipulated.  We already know the truth doesn’t matter to US federal government as marijuana wouldn’t be illegal if they were interested in science or any factual evidence.  They continue to promote their failed policies by utilizing fear.  Americans are afraid of crazed, murderous mountain men who would dare kidnap a world-class athlete.  Dan Nichols is considered armed and dangerous.  I certainly wouldn’t approach him, that fear is most likely warranted.  Chris Lindsey, on the other hand, is someone I would trust to watch my daughter.  He is a kind, compassionate intellectual.  He is an educated professional.  He isn’t a firearm enthusiast and he isn’t the least bit violent.  The actual truth isn’t nearly as scandalous though, so the feds will do their best to ensure Chris Lindsey’s story is suppressed.  It appears that the indictment of the exciting “mountain man” was necessary to substantiate the sentences Chris Lindsey is facing for spending 10 months as in-house legal counsel for Montana Cannabis, if convicted of the federal crimes in which he is accused- mandatory minimum sentences total 690 years.

Another former partner of Montana Cannabis, Tom Daubert, who authored Montana’s original medical marijuana law, is scheduled to offer a guilty plea to a federal charge of “conspiracy to maintain a drug-involved premises” on May 3.  Like Lindsey, Daubert divested his interest in Montana Cannabis long before the raids.  Why he wasn’t also indicted with Williams, Nichols, and Lindsey is unclear at this time.

The recent indictments as well as sentences handed down to others charged and convicted (via plea deals) as a result of the March 2011 raids have indicated that Montana’s state law umbrella offers zero protection from federal prosecution, whether the accused was operating in “clear and unambiguous compliance with state law” or not. One can only wonder why Montana’s DPHHS employees, legislators who pretended to deliver created regulatory legislation, and electric companies (the only REAL marijuana millionaires in the state) are not also indicted co-conspirators.

The Facade of Federal Justice


Leniency for corruption

Former Butte Montana city judge, Steven Kambich, convicted of bribery in federal court was sentenced this week to paying $5000 in restitution, far less than even the total of the bribes he accepted, and five years of probation.  He faced fines of $250,000, a prison sentence of up to 10 years and 3 years of supervised release.  Kambich offered guilty pleas in January for accepting bribes in excess of $13,000 in exchange for dismissing traffic tickets and other citations.  He was accused of a variety of other corrupt practices unbecoming of any human being let alone an elected official.

In a January 13, 2012 press release related to the case, U.S. Attorney Michael Cotter said:

“There are few positions in the law more powerful than that of a judge. Judges have the authority to change individual lives with their actions. Former Silver Bow County City Judge Steve Kambich pled guilty today in Federal Court to accepting bribes – usually in the form of cash or checks – for dismissing traffic and other misdemeanor tickets. The prosecution of Kambich sends a strong message that public corruption will not be tolerated and when detected it will be prosecuted.”

Chris Lindsey faces up to 25 consecutive life sentences for adhering to state medical marijuana laws.

Sounds more like a slap on the wrist to me, especially when the punishment is contrasted with sentences facing former medical marijuana caregiver Chris Lindsey.  Although he has not been accused of breaking any state laws, the Missoula attorney is facing federal mandatory sentences ranging from 690 years to 25 consecutive life sentences with an additional 85 years for good measure.

What ever happened to the guidelines contained within the infamous Ogden memo? In the memorandum, the Department of Justice said that it was committed to the “efficient and rational use” of its resources and that prosecuting patients and distributors who are in “clear and unambiguous compliance” with state laws did not meet that standard.

Lindsey may indeed have been in “clear and unambiguous compliance” with Montana’s medical marijuana laws, but we may never hear about that in court as evidence indicating adherence to state laws is inadmissible in prosecutions for violating federal laws.

Bribery by a corrupt judge warrants a more lenient sentence than those that medical cannabis providers receive? In what sort of world is the dismissal of charges in exchange for cash a lesser crime than advising a medical marijuana business of their rights and responsibilities under state law?  Even monsters like Charles Manson have parole opportunities periodically.  This isn’t the case in federal cases where inmates serve 85% of their sentences at minimum.

Life presents us with many injustices and often reforms are only possible after exhausting struggles.  Familiarize yourself with jury nullification at http://www.fija.org.  Education is the answer.  Please share this story in any way possible-  via social media, telling everyone you know, writing a letter to the editor, however you see fit. A tyrannical federal government affects us all.  The oppressive muscle of the fed knows no bounds- now it is medical marijuana, but what is next?  Guns?  Healthcare?  Education?  Whether you use medical marijuana or not, please don’t be so naive as to believe that this doesn’t affect you.  I am haunted by this injustice.  Law enforcement is in theory a comforting sight.  Good people aren’t supposed to fear federal agents yet when I see anyone with a badge, I am faced with the reality that one day I could be in a similar position as Chris.  Although I am not a marijuana user nor am I a marijuana provider, simply discussing becoming one is a federal crime.  Most of us commit federal crimes every day without even realizing it.  Chris is your neighbor, your friend, your mentor, your brother, your father, your husband, he is me and he is you.

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

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. 

Gallagher Enters Ken Miller’s Echo Chamber of Green Morons


GOP Gubernatorial candidate Ken Miller bills himself as a state’s rights advocate as he naturally mentions his role model,  much beloved Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.  Governor Brewer is perhaps best-known for her anti-immigration stance and willingness to dramatically oppose the federal government…. but only on issues that suit her.  For instance, Brewer recently launched an assault on a voter- approved medical marijuana law in her state, asking a  federal judge to strike down the law based on an arbitrary fear of federal prosecution of state workers administering the law.  Upon filing the lawsuit, she ordered the Arizona Department of Health and Human Services to reject ALL applications for dispensaries although they were allowed under the state law.  The judge has dismissed the case.

From the Missoulian:

“I look forward to the day that I can stand with Gov. Brewer on this battle with U.S. immigration and say, ‘Gov. Brewer, I’m sorry that we didn’t have a governor fighting the fight with you, but we do now.  I’m here and we’re going to stand with you’.  Then when we do that, she will be here on our issues on wolves or whatever that may be.”

One can certainly understand why Ken Miller would incessantly speak of Governor Brewer considering Montana’s current immigration problem is nothing short of a crisis.  Each day numerous, possibly even millions, of Canadians sneak across the Saskatchewan and

That's right Canadians, Ken Miller wants you to stop sneaking into Montana.

Alberta borders of Canada to give birth on Montana soil to instant American citizens. Likely, many of them are violent criminals, looking for the land of the free, the nation with the highest incarceration rate on the planet. They come in search of a better (albeit shorter) life free from the annoyances of the ever-so tricky metric system.  They take jobs from hard-working Montanans and are threatening the economic and social future of our state… right?  Does Ken Miller have any idea what the role of Governor entails?

Miller recently named Bill Gallagher as his running mate.  Gallagher is perhaps best known for being ousted as Chairman of the clown show now known as Montana’s Public Service Commission.  He is as inexperienced as Miller is ineffective.

 “It is with exceeding pride and joy that I join the Miller for Governor team. I do it because it gives the citizens, the voters, the families, and the businesses of Montana a very clear choice and an opportunity to send their message and stamp their message here in Helena and on the Executive Branch.”

These interesting announcements have come on the heels of the departure of Miller’s much-acclaimed campaign manager, William Mutch, who took an exciting post with the Colorado Springs Home Building Association amid rumors that Miller’s campaign is on its last legs.  Time will tell whether that is indeed true.  If his last quarterly filings are any indication, Miller is having fundraising troubles…. even in light of receiving the coveted James Knox endorsement.


What is higher, human body temperature or the IQ of the average Ken Miller supporter?

Adios Assmann!


Essentially citing lackluster support, tax-loving prohibitionist Senator Jeff Essmann has decided to focus on electing Republicans rather than waste his coin losing the 2012 GOP Gubernatorial primary election. While I can hardly control my excitement, I must admit that some part of me  was looking forward to obtaining the inevitable and infinite fodder for critique at the Yellowstone Young Republicans Gubernatorial Debate scheduled for February 9 in Billings.  Anyone who has witnessed Jeff Essmann partake in an original soliloquy knows exactly what I’m talking about.  Considering that the questions asked in the debate will not be shared with the candidates prior, one can only imagine the panic Essmann must have been experiencing.

Judging from the comments on the Billings Gazette article announcing Essmann dropping from the race, this decision has elated many Montanans.

 

Although Essmann didn’t endorse another candidate, he implied that he will be supporting Rick Hill. Many are speculating that Essmann was forced from the race after the Hill campaign discovered a scandal.  The Senator mentioned that he plans to return campaign donations… I urge those of you who contributed to Essmann to donate those funds to the campaign of Corey Stapleton.  I look forward to seeing you all at the GOP Gubernatorial debate in Billings February 9, hosted by the Yellowstone Young Republicans.

I’d also like to see approximately five of the current (crowded) GOP field of 8, after Essmann’s departure; drop out to provide a clear contrast among the remaining candidates. The filing fee exceeds some of the entire campaign treasuries of candidates and any who are unable to raise enough cash to pay for the filing fee are likely not the over-achiever we need in Montana’s Capitol.

Aptitude, Attitude and Altitude: 2012


To accommodate our growing needs montanafesto has moved!  We are now located at our own domain, montanafesto.org. Please reset your bookmarks to the new site. In the upcoming days, our Twitter and Facebook accounts will also be redirected to the new site, so please “like” our page, friend us on Facebook (Commissar Montanafesto) and follow us on Twitter.    Although old posts will remain at this address, no new posts will be will appear here.  Our archive of previous posts will also be available at our new home.

In the last year, we have evolved from complete obscurity to a site that consistently receives hundreds to thousands of hits each day. 2012 will be an extremely important year politically and moving to our own domain allows us to integrate more precise site analytics.  Watch for site changes in the upcoming month.

The staff at montanafesto wishes you a Merry Christmas/ Happy Holidays and hopes for a year of common sense reform in our state and our nation.  Thank you to all who continue to read our posts and especially everyone  most who are playing an activism role.  We have many important petitions circulating prior to the November 2012 elections, there is much work to do but the rewards will justify our toils.  We will be a force to be reckoned with at the polls, IF we are able to effectively mobilize our army. Please reward Montana’s prohibitionists with votes for their opponents in upcoming elections. Encourage the destructive members of our community to keep their eyes on the final goal and to let others take the reigns.

In this season of giving, we encourage everyone to support the MTCIA as we fight for liberty and truth in cannabis reform.  Without the MTCIA, the de facto repeal launched by Montana’s prohibitionists would have eliminated reliable and safe access to nearly all Montanans.

Here’s to the bright future of the upcoming year!

–Tana, Nic, and the montanafesto bloggers.

 

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.

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.

 

Senator Jeff Essmann’s Taxing History


Jeff Essmann announced tonight that he will GASP be running for Governor of Montana.  In an uncomfortably awkward conference call- townhall meeting, Essmann prosaically  listed his accomplishments, forgetting all about the legislation that provided him essential name-recognition. His fluffer, Senator Jason Priest; assisted with creating some faux passion for the candidate who is generally regarded as the epitome of dull.  As Essmann would launch into another list of accomplishments, occasionally Senator Priest would stop him, exclaiming “I’m sorry to interrupt you, Senator Essmann, but what you just said was pretty exciting! Perhaps you’d like to share more about that with callers.” Repeated themes throughout the “event” included:  resisting the Obama agenda, standing up to federal intrusion in our state, and “Essmann with 2 Ns”.  The callers seemed to be plants- although many cannabis patients and providers on the call tried to ask questions, none of them were able.

My favorite caller was Warren, from Lolo. He is a retired, older gentleman living on a fixed income.  Although he owns his home, he suspects he will soon be forced to sell it as the property taxes are very high.  It is interesting that Warren mentions this issue, actually; he certainly was talking to the appropriate person anyway.  You see, Essmann’s legislation, a re-write of HB 658, was an attempt to mitigate the financial sting of property reappraisals.  The attempt backfired and instead of lessening the blow, Montanans were slapped with the largest property tax increases in their lifetimes… during an economic recession.

So, Warren; does that answer your question? Essmann, a self described “conservative republican” is no stranger to funding government growth with tax proceeds-in fact, he proposed adding a local sales tax as well. As the unpopular candidate struggles to stand out in a like-minded crowd his insatiable appetite for taxes will set him almost certainly set him apart from the pack.  Currently, nine GOP candidates are vying for the position of Governor, all of whom happen to be more interesting and well-liked than Senator Essmann.

Eight Isn’t Enough: The Axis of EGO Plans a “MAJOR” Announcement


Jeff Essmann plans to make a “major announcement” later today.  Perhaps he would like to apologize to the medical marijuana patients and growers for creating health-endangering legislation that makes compliance nearly impossible.  More likely, however,  Senate Majority Leader Jeff Essmann (Billings, Prohibitionist/Tax Increase Party) is going to stop with the “exploratory committee” insantity and finally announce his run for Montana’s Governor tomorrow. Senator Essmann in a shocking move (not) has hired Dustin Frost, of 47 North Communications, to manage his campaign.  Frost, a former Rehberg staffer who received massive head injuries in a Flathead boat wreck a few years back; was recently quoted in the Flathead Beacon’s article “Schweitzer’s Successor“.

State Sen. Jeff Essmann from Billings is “actively considering” a run. And, according to the AP, he is being encouraged to get in the race by GOP consultants with close ties to Montana Congressman Denny Rehberg. Dustin Frost, Rehberg’s former state director and a partner in 47 North Communications, said Essmann would be a “heavyweight” if he runs.

“He’s being encouraged……… by consultants with close ties to Rehberg”, wow…. talk about a shameless name drop.  It sounds like Mr Frost was in reality only promoting his employer.  Should Montanans be influenced by the endorsement of a candidate’s employee- a paid campaign consultant? Not this Montanan.

The GOP ticket was already uncomfortably crowded, with already ample representation from Yellowstone County- Former State Senate Minority Leader Corey Stapleton, Former State Senator and previously unsuccessful Gubernatorial candidate Ken Miller, and rising political star Keith Winkler…. perhaps that was a bit of an exaggeration.  Other Republicans running include former US Congressman Rick Hill from Helena, Neil Livingstone, a terrorism expert based in DC (although his home is in Helena) and James O’Hara, a Chouteau County  Commissioner. Earlier today, Drew Turiano of Helena filed for the race as did Robert Fanning, a retired CEO now living in Pray.  Current AG Steve Bullock is expected to be the Democrat Party nominee, but is planning a contested primary with Larry Jent.  Ron Vandevender is running as a libertarian.

Thanks to Montana’s disenfranchised medical marijuana patients, Essmann attained the level of name recognition necessary to run for a statewide office when he authored SB423, to repeal Montana’s medical marijuana law.  In a field chock-full of conservatives, let’s differentiate Essmann from his peers.

  1. Taxes.  Essmann’s legislation provided many Montanans the sharpest tax increase in their lifetimes.  It was unexpected and during a recession.
  2. Personal Responsibility. When Essmann approached Governor Schweitzer to complain about the implications of the above legislation, the Governor said “Essmann complaining about his bill is like the architect that was warned by the engineer over and over again if you build it that way, it will fall down.”
  3. Family Values. With a penchant for liberal ladies (his wives are all lefties) Senator Essmann is childless.  Perhaps he has a puppy or something instead.
  4. Smaller Government. Essmann isn’t one to challenge the federal government. If the feds consider it illegal, he certainly won’t defend your right to use it.  Oh yeah, unless we are talking about guns, wolves, or Obamacare.   He forced massive taxes on property owners and rescinded the rights of tens of thousands of medical marijuana patients to access their medicine safely. I guess his ideology borders on hypocrisy.
  5. Liberty.  Essmann’s baby, SB 423 is a clunky, oppressive prohibition bill.  It overturns a very popular citizens initiative and essentially sends the sickest people in our state to the dark alleys to obtain necessary medicine. Several primary components have already been ruled unconstitutional. An initiative by Patients for Reform, Not Repeal has officially qualified the law for the 2012 ballot to enable voters to decide its verdict, with a particularly incredible showing in Yellowstone County, even in Essmann’s own district.  Note:  Essmann refused to sign the petition.
  6. Support.  Although the rumor is “Essmann already has more money than the other candidates combined”, we know if that is the case, it is his own.  Montana’s campaign laws prevent candidates from raising money until officially filing candidacy with the state so the money, if there is any; is likely his own cash.  The lovely ladies from Safe Community, Safe Kids are no doubt on board and his biggest fan is rumored to be Tom Hauptman, an oil player who has contributed to Rick Hill in the past.

Being Governor has reportedly been Essmann’s lifelong dream but  Essmann as governor would be Montana’s nightmare. Good luck to Frost.  Creating excitement in a campaign is difficult with such a dull candidate (thus, this “major announcement”). Last session, thankfully Essmann provided us with plenty of campaign material.  Regardless of his wealth, I don’t think Essmann has any chance in this race.

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.

“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.