Overcriminalization and Montana: Marijuana Mecca?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 thoughts on “Overcriminalization and Montana: Marijuana Mecca?

  1. Well, here I think– is the real truth behind the feds going after the medical marijuana industry.Those in the industry are not going to physically fight the DEA agents, no one is going to get shot, no chance anyone is going to get “blown up” like in a raid on a “meth” house. Just like the doctors’ offices that are raided no one fights back. The DEA comes in and takes what they want. If they were out there arresting people in the black market, they would be facing guns, dogs and God only knows what else. Doctors’ offices and medical marijuana shops are easy targets, looks to the average taxpayer that the DEA is doing its jobs and in the meantime the Black Market is getting richer and stronger and more and more children are getting hooked on painkillers and meth. All the more reason to elect people who understand this and get rid of those like Mark Long who are truly only interested in protecting their positions, their budgets and carrying what they think is the poplar opinion. Your friend, unless under a gag-order should write a letter to the editor of every newspaper in the state using the elected officials name and the judges. Really does not look good for any elected official to use their position to pick on a woman during a high-risk pregnancy.

  2. Unless your friend admitted saying ass in court [and explained she meant body part] it would be her word against the clerks. An ass is also short for jackass. They are stuborn beasts like the clerk. I do not think it is profane, or threatening to ask if you are supposed to kiss her four legged, honery, hay eating ,fly bitten, beast of burden to get a simple set of instructions on how the process works. That is not legal advise.

  3. Ever see a pharmacy raided when their customer overdoses on what was given out from the pharmacy? How about their stock confiscated and their pharmacist arrested? Nope, because it’s legal to kill people if the FDA approves the substance.

  4. Great Blog again. I guess I wasn’t aware that can even be a crime. I guess I’m also amazed I haven’t been arrested for that one. I’m known to be brash, curse & intellectually embarrass those in my way. Tubby ‘don’t recall’ Knox is due for finding that one out.
    That Clerk is a bloated, worthless public employee. I hope you’ll release the Judges name before his next election. I know how she felt. I had a 20 minute conversation with a staff lawyer from the AG’s office where I heard ‘can’t give legal advice’ a couple dozen times. I finished the conversation with more questions than I started with. It seems they want to wait to bust someone rather than release guidelines on legality.
    I read that Bozeman Chronicle article. So fact checking is too hard for Carly Flandro? Mark Long is a **cking liar. The discussion board blast his fictitious numbers. 78% of jurisdictions have increase in crime? It’s obvious to anyone educated that he fears a shrinking budget.
    I’d like to see any of these prohibitionist say the wild claims under testimony. Perjury charges would be huge. 39 highway fatalities caused by MMJ? Cherrie Brady’s crew of teen hookers who trade sex for a joint? Essman saying he didn’t ‘cut & paste SB423 from New Mexico? Homophobic Peterson saying anything?

      • And so they Lie, and Lie and Lie.
        Like hogs at the trough. This week marks 40yrs since Nixon started this ‘war on drugs’. 1 TRILLION dollars later we’re still pouring kerosene on the fire, not water.

        • It should be pointed out that Nixon’s move to enact the “War on Drugs” was overwhelmingly popular with both parties at the time. Polls at the time placed the support for that move at over 80%. There was so much misinformation available, it was hard not to support the move. “Studies” done at the time “Catagorically proved” that Marijuana was addictive (the study that “proved” it was a joke when you look at their methodology), Marijuana use effected users on a genetic level (completely bogus) and Marijuana was more harmful for you than Herion (again, completely bogus). As is often the case when the “cause of the day” gets national attention, the country over-reacted and, more importantly, forgot history. One of my favorite sayings is “Those who choose to ignore history are doomed to repeat it”. We KNOW that prohibition doesn’t work. It didn’t work with Alcohol, it didn’t work with drugs and it certainly won’t work with cigarettes.

          The true crime is that in the past 40 years, our country has spent – literally – Trillions of dollars on this failed war. Why the hell hasn’t it been re-thought and a different approach decided upon? How many more dollars/lives/careers/ etc going to be wasted on this never ending, impossible to succeed situation?

  5. I just heard this statistic-we now have more black men in prison than there were slaves before the Civil War. Combine this with calls to use prisoners to solve the labor shortage problem on American Farms and we have re-instated slavery! And Felons can’t vote in most states.(montana excluded, hooray! we thought of this in ’72, felt that after paying your debt you have become 100% repatriated!) I often wonder if this hasn’t been part of the plan all along.

  6. I couldn’t agree with you more! It’s definitely one of the criteria the next person I vote for in the presidential election must meet–supporting ending the War on Drugs. In addition to the things mentioned above, this horrible war, waged against Americans, has created an entire subclass of citizens whose only crime is that they possessed drugs. Once they are convicted of a felony for drugs, they can’t get many jobs, financial aid for school, and, in many cases, cannot vote. So, add to those trillions we spend in the overt fight, all the money spent helping to now support these citizens who can no longer support themselves due to their criminal history, and don’t even have the right to vote to change things

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