Republicans across the nation protest government-run healthcare, arguing that politicians and bureaucrats make medical decisions for Americans instead of physicians yet GOP legislators in Montana consider themselves experts on medical cannabis. None of the prohibitionist legislators, who are determined to repeal or severely restrict use of medical cannabis, are medical doctors and most have no medical training whatsoever, they are lawyers. These attorneys moonlight for 90 days every other year serving in Montana’s legislature where they bolster their law practices by actually creating the laws.
We elect these men and women to serve in our legislature, hoping they will represent our best interests. These legislators are often faced with creating laws to regulate controversial industries entirely unfamiliar to them and we trust lawmakers to obtain adequate education at those times. We expect that rather than relying on long-held opinions or religious beliefs, lawmakers instead utilize critical thinking.
Critical thinking is:
the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action, the process of purposeful, self-regulatory judgment, which uses reasoned consideration to evidence, context, conceptualizations, methods, and criteria.
Montana’s 2011 Legislative session has thus far been vacant of critical thought on both sides of the political spectrum although primarily in the GOP. This obstinate refusal to accept science has been prominent in various bills this session, but primarily in those regulating the medical use of cannabis, which Montana’s citizens approved in 2004.
My personal physician, who has more medical training than likely each member of the legislature combined, believes in the medical use of cannabis. In fact, more than half of his chronic pain patients have eliminated the use of opiate painkillers entirely. The dangers of opiates (heroin, morphine, oxycontin, etc.) are widely documented and legislators have no doubt heard countless times that not even ONE person has ever died of a cannabis overdose. Instead of relying on legitimate patient, physician and scientific testimony, Montana’s legislature has instead chosen testimony like the following from Rev. Harris Himes to form puritanical legislation. Himes also incidentally believes gays should be put to death and that marijuana use if offensive to God.
Senate Majority Leader Jeff Essmann of Billings sponsored the draconian and socialistic SB 423, which not only destroys the industry through restrictions and financial impositions, eliminates legal access to cannabis for most patients who now qualify. Essmann relied on his education, which naturally includes a J.D., and no doubt his religious beliefs, to determine that under 2,000 of the 30,000 or so medical cannabis patients in Montana actually benefit from using it. Speaker of the House Milburn, whose HB 161 repealing medical use of marijuana was vetoed yesterday, reluctantly endorsed Essmann’s bill, with restrictions. Milburn isn’t a physician either, naturally. Other prominent members of the GOP God Squad include:
- Rep Dave Howard (R-Park City) pastor and former FBI agent
- Rep Cary Smith (R-Billings) and his lovely wife Susan, who created the Safe Community, Safe Kids group devoted to ending legal access to medical cannabis.
- Rep James Knox (R-Billings) who now attends Harvest Church in Billings, but who cannot recall if he sold drugs in the past.
- Rep Ken Peterson (R-Billings) LDS faithful who believes our law currently allows us to imprison homosexuals for acting gay in public and their recruiting of non-gays to try a little homosexuality to entice them into immorality.
Ask your legislators to stop ignoring the facts and the wishes of their constituents. Ask them how they can argue that lawyers shouldn’t be making our health decisions when they are doing the very same. Ask them to check their religious beliefs at the door of the Capitol. If we allow Christian religious zealots to force their personal morality on our citizens, how can we prevent the same sort of actions by Muslims in the future? The suffering as a result of prohibiting marijuana use is the only thing truly immoral about it.
Our legislators are employed by Montana voters. If you aren’t currently registered to vote, please do so now. If legislators won’t listen to their constituency, voters will send the ultimate message in 2012.