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.

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.

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. 

Where is the TEA party now?


My disillusionment with the local TEA party began last summer when I received the following email from Jennifer Olsen, co-founder and organizer of Montana Shrugged, a Montana tea party group.

To All Concerned Citizens,
Protect your family, act now! 

In 2004 Montana Citizens voted for the Medical Marijuana Act – Initiative 148, out of concern and compassion for those in chronic pain. The ballot stated, “For allowing the limited use of marijuana, under medicalsupervision, by patients with debilitating medical conditions to alleviate the symptoms of their conditions”.

No one could have foreseen the crisis that would ensue.

Here is our current situation:

·  89 licenses have been issued as of Monday the 3rd of May. They are receiving 3-5 new applicants a day.
·  There are no zoning regulations as to where these marijuanabusinesses can be located. That means they can be put next to schools, places of worship, parks and neighborhoods. For some of you your neighbors are growing pot in their house.
·  In 2008 there were 1000 registered patients, today there are over 12,000 and growing.
·  There are currently 2,797 licensed caregivers. A “caregiver” is someone 18 yrs or older and has agreed to under take the responsibility for managing the well being of a person with respect to the medical use of marijuana. Caregivers are not required to have training or schooling of any kind.
·  Cards are issued to minors with parental permission.
·  Our kids are getting mixed signals. We don’t want them believingmarijuana is normal. In the eyes of the Federal Government, marijuanais still a schedule 1 illegal drug. We have the right and obligation to keep it away from our children.
·  Currently,it is legal for patients to vaporize,smoke marijuana,at the facility. Since these facilities can be any where,this raises concerns about them driving afterwards and the risk to the surrounding areas i.e… schools, parks, etc.
·  Billings is now attracting medical marijuana users from other states. They are moving here because of our relaxed laws. In addition there is nothing in place to keep felons from relocating to our state and establishing businesses. Do we really want this to be our calling card?

Montanans thought we were being compassionate, instead we voted in a poorly regulated big growth industry. The regulations around this industry are really loose, and are not well enforced. We have opened the flood gate and we need to work together to close it.  

We need an immediate moratorium put on this industry for at least a year and an emergency zoning ordinance put in place. A moratorium would keep the city from issuing any new licenses and an emergency zoning ordinance would allow a 1000 ft buffer around our schools, places of worship, parks and neighborhoods.

What can you do?  You can make a difference, we need you. Our kids need you.

·  Email or call your council man immediately.  Let him, or her, know where you stand. Ask them to vote for a moratorium and emergencyzoning that is as strict as possible.

·  Attend the City Council meeting on Monday the 10th and let your voice be heard.  If we pack that meeting it will send a loud and clear message to the council where we stand. The meeting starts at 6:30, but please come early, seating will be limited.
·  Forward this email to everyone you know.  Give them a chance to state their opinion. 

You can find your council man’s email at the following link:

http://ci.billings.mt.us/index.aspx?NID=159

If you don’t know what ward you are in or who your council member is check this site: 

http://ci.billings.mt.us/DocumentView.aspx?DID=5523

If you would like to get more involved please, don’t hesitate to email me. 

If you are unable to attend the meeting to voice your concerns for this issue please consider sending an email to the Mayor and all members of city council.

Richard McFadden McfaddenR@ci.billings.mt.us
Denis Pitman Pitmand@ci.billings.mt.us
Dick Clark twodc@bresnan.net

Ed Ulledalen edulledalen@yahoo.com
Jani McCall janimccall@msn.com
Jim Ronquillo jimronquillo@aol.com
Mark Astleastlem@ci.billings.mt.us
Vince Ruegamer vr@bresnan.net
Peggie Denney Gaghen GaghenP@ci.billings.mt.us
Angela Cimino CimminoA@ci.billings.mt.us
Mayor Tom Hanel HanelT@ci.billings.mt.us 

Thank you everyone for your support and continued stance for FREEDOM and LIBERTY.

Jennifer Olsen
Founder -Montana Shrugged, Tea Party Patriots

PLEASE NOTE THAT OUR RALLY SCHEDULED FOR NEXT WEDNESDAY, MAY 12TH HAS BEEN CANCELLED.  WE WILL GATHER AT 24TH AND KING SATURDAY MAY 15TH TO RALLY WITH THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN UNABLE TO RALLY WITH US DURING THE WEEK.
I was instantly irritated and responded with the following:
 

While you are probably well aware of my stance on this issue, I must counter your arguments.  I will admit that there IS indeed some abuse of the medical marijuana law- primarily this is because the law needs to be amended.  The law itself is far too vague- allowing people to interpret components of it as they please.  I agree with that and as a legitimate caregiver, I would prefer that the laws be more clear in order to protect us all.  Unless dispensaries ONLY sell their products to their own patients, they are operating illegally- which hurts those who are legitimate- and most of us are.  I must take issue with some of the other points though- I understand your reasoning but as someone who advocates for smaller government, it seems directly opposed to such.

·  89 licenses have been issued as of Monday the 3rd of May. They are receiving 3-5 new applicants a day.
·  There are no zoning regulations as to where these marijuana businesses can be located. That means they can be put next to schools, places of worship, parks and neighborhoods. For some of you your neighbors are growing pot in their house. Why is that our business what our neighbors are growing in their homes?  What about liberty and personal freedom?  62% of our state voted to approve this measure.  This should be considered MEDICINE.  The people I’ve encountered in this business are experts in their fields- they know their products- they can tell you exactly which strains will help every type of pain.  Do we trust the FDA and big Pharma to do a better job?  You realize they are very involved in NWO.   Since when do we prefer big government? The more regulations we have, the more government jobs, waste and expense.  I would not be entirely opposed to some sort of tax- California receives $100 million/yr on only the SALES tax of medical marijuana.
·  In 2008 there were 1000 registered patients, today there are over 12,000 and growing.  And rightfully so- although there are exceptions, these people have legitimate medical reasons for this.
·  There are currently 2,797 licensed caregivers. A “caregiver” is someone 18 yrs or older and has agreed to under take the responsibility for managing the well being of a person with respect to the medical use of marijuana. Caregivers are not required to have training or schooling of any kind. The caregivers may not be required to have training, but seriously, if they want to make any money, they have to learn much about marijuana or they will not be caregivers for long- the fact that it is available legally has reduced the street price by about half.  The illegal drug dealers are having a hard time selling their marijuana at the prices they need…. they are actually moving out of Montana- I know this for a fact.
·  Cards are issued to minors with parental permission. Kids are only allowed cards if a physician approves them for it.  Kids get prescriptions for pharmaceutical meth (adderall) like it is candy.  I have not heard of one child with a card.
·  Our kids are getting mixed signals. We don’t want them believing marijuana is normal. In the eyes of the Federal Government, marijuana is still a schedule 1 illegal drug. We have the right and obligation to keep it away from our children. The reason this is happening now is that Obama said he will defect to the states regarding medical marijuana laws.  Do you really think it should be classified as a schedule I when cocaine is a II?  While it is not possible with existing data to determine conclusively that state medical marijuana laws caused the documented declines in adolescent marijuana use, the overwhelming downward trend strongly suggests that the effect of state medical marijuana laws on teen marijuana use has been either neutral or positive.
·  Currently,it is legal for patients to vaporize,smoke marijuana,at the facility. Since these facilities can be any where,this raises concerns about them driving afterwards and the risk to the surrounding areas i.e… schools, parks, etc. Have any of us witnessed any of these people using and driving at the facility?  Just curious.  There isn’t any way to quantify (like a breath test) whether someone is impaired.
·  Billings is now attracting medical marijuana users from other states. They are moving here because of our relaxed laws. In addition there is nothing in place to keep felons from relocating to our state and establishing businesses. Do we really want this to be our calling card Of the 14 states with medical marijuana laws, ours ties for most strict.  Compare to Oregon for example:  We can possess 6 plants and 1 oz usable.  In Oregon, they can have 24 ounces usable and 24 plants.  I highly doubt any medical users are moving here because they like our laws better than the ones in their own state.  Think for a moment how much money is going into the economy- and putting illegalmarijuana dealers out of business.  A set-up with lights, ballasts, nutrients, etc STARTS at $1000 for 6 plants.    Not only that, but drug felons are NOT allowed to be caregivers, thus preventing them from setting up businesses.

When I saw Montana Shrugged’s latest video, which accuses the governor’s family of “selling marijuana” in an attempt to promote a full repeal of the law (ironically, the video makes a great case for reform instead), I began to ponder the role of the tea party in Montana politics.  I originally subscribed to the ideals that the tea party was founded upon- and actually, I still do.  There are, however; many  inconsistencies in their principles.  For instance, in general they abhor the federal government.  They constantly call for reducing its size and scope- I too would prefer that our government be far smaller than it is today.  The tea party criticizes federal intervention on any level…. unless, of course they are talking about medical cannabis.  Tea party Republican James Knox posted the following on his Facebook.
So now we have an elected representative in our state legislature PRAISING federal intervention.  This issue should not be party line.  It isn’t a republican, democrat, or tea party problem- this is something ALL Montanans and ALL Americans should condemn.  Here is an excerpt from the DOJ detailing the many federal, state, and local agencies assisting with the investigation and ensuing raids.
[T]he Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Internal Revenue Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Environmental Protection Agency-Criminal Investigation Division, U.S. Customs and Border Protection-Border Patrol, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. These federal agencies were assisted by the Montana Division of Criminal Investigations, and local High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task forces, the Northwest Drug Task Force, the Kalispell Police Department, the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office, the Missoula Police Department, the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office, the Missoula High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, the Great Falls Police Department, the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office, the Central Montana Drug Task Force, the Billings Police Department, the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office, the Eastern Montana High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, the Dillon Police Department, the Beaverhead County Sheriff’s Office, the Park County Sheriff’s Office, the Bozeman Police Department, the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, the Missouri River Drug Task Force, the Helena Police Department, the Lewis & Clark Sheriff’s Office, and the Eastern Montana Drug Task Force – Miles City” (U.S. Department of Justice, Michael W. Cotter, United States Attorney, District of Montana,News Advisory, March 15, 2011).
Are we supposed to believe that the Environmental Protection Agency had nothing better to do than work with other redundant and unnecessary agencies to raid cannabis facilities? If these charges indeed have merit, the blame should rest upon the state for failure to prosecute caregivers who were illegally diverting product.  Also, considering the prohibitionist crowd’s biggest argument, that cannabis is a “gateway drug”, it is strange that there weren’t other more dangerous drugs discovered at any of the facilities.
The TEA party appears to only be concerned about the constitutional components that fit their agenda.  In my opinion, the TEA party movement is over.  Gone are the days of a leaderless group  influencing elected officials to spend less and reduce the size of our government.  Today we see a group of loud hypocrites eager to exploit the Constitution when they see fit.