During Montana’s 2011 legislative session, 113 of our elected representatives, in direct contradiction of the expressed will of 62% of the people, imposed their personal social agenda on the rest of Montana by approving a repeal of Montana’s medical marijuana law. The lawmakers, after neglecting in several sessions to draft thoughtful reform legislation, approved Sen Jeff Essmann’s 33 page repeal bill and proudly announced to the 276,042 Montana voters who approved the state’s original law (I-148) that they were simply fulfilling voter intent. To combat this legislative action, the IR-124 campaign was launched. If successful, Montana voters will have the opportunity in 2012 to vote on this unpopular- and recently ruled unconstitutional- piece of legislation.
What happened to the will of the people? This is an opportunity to assert your rights as a Montana citizen. A legislative repeal of a citizens initiative sets a dangerous precedent and regardless of how Montanans actually feel about medical marijuana, it is difficult to understand how ANY could argue against empowering voters by allowing them to choose the fate of the law. Time will tell whether this was or wasn’t what Montanans voted for, but “voter intent” should be decided by voters.
If you are interested in helping with our efforts, would like to sign the petition, or desire more information, we’d love to hear from you. Visit our website, patientsforreform.org, call Randy or Darcy Warburton, (trained Sheridan County petitioners) at406.580.5046 or me at 406.208.0204.
While some of the editors responded almost immediately to express their interest and willingness to print the letter, others, not surprisingly; said nothing. For those of you who may not know, I grew up in Sheridan County, Montana (where you can see both Canada and North Dakota from your porch) and earlier this week, I accepted a job offer and moved somewhat reluctantly to Plentywood. While I’m happy to be closer to my family, I am not looking forward to the harsh realities of life up here- like the brutal winters and the ever-present small town ignorance. Which takes me back to my letter….
I’ve written a few letters to the editor in my life and although mine have virtually always been printed, I’ve learned a bit about the process through the years… most newspapers have a few guidelines, many have a word limit- often 250 or less- and most require authentication of the letter- either via call, email, or letter. I know most of the people who work for the local newspaper, The Sheridan County News, so it wasn’t surprising to hear that the newspaper had refused to sell ad space to a caregiver on several occasions. Although I don’t necessarily approve of such policies, I gave the management the benefit of the doubt and attempted to convince myself that their decisions were based on their ignorant self-righteousness, not a conscious desire to foster propaganda. Yesterday, a couple of my friends asked Joe Nistler, the editor of the newspaper, if he planned to run the letter. His response was that he was NOT going to run it because-and I QUOTE- “we already have enough potheads in this county”. Although I admit that Nistler is HARDLY considered influential by anyone, his thinly veiled attempts to influence readers subtly with headlines- like “Big Rigger Writes Own Songs” and “Roads Here Tested by Big Rigs”… yes, I see a small pattern developing, indicate that Mr Nistler is likely a spineless epitome of cowardice who occasionally gets an ego boost from wielding a bit of judgment those he considers immoral- or something. Perhaps his actions aren’t malicious. Perhaps he genuinely desires to save us all from ourselves. I’m far more concerned about saving myself from our government and protecting my daughter from this sort of pervasive ignorance. Most weeks,, the newspaper contains at least one kitschy “Remember when….” post, a macro shot of some fetching young lentils, or a collection of boring images from decades ago… in addition to the primary reason many current and former Sheridan County residents still subscribe to the weekly newspaper…. that’s right, the police blotter, where the accused are proven instantly guilty through the court of public opinion, whether or not they were convicted of their alleged crimes.
I find it sad that some of the staff at the Sheridan County News, who by the very nature of their field, should be first amendment crusaders, are not only unwilling to print opinion pieces contrasting their own, they apparently have no interest in allowing their readers to weigh the facts and decide for themselves. My letter to the editor wasn’t promoting drug use- I’m not a patient nor do I use marijuana recreationally. I simply recognize tyranny when I see it and I have no problem calling out my own party. Sheridan County, with the rest of Montana, deserves an opportunity to make an informed decision. It is disappointing that the morality enforcement division of the local newspaper doesn’t trust their own friends and family to vote properly after being armed with the facts. The SCOTUS as well as state Supreme Courts recognize that there is no more purer form of free speech than gathering signatures, refusing to cover our campaign- regardless of personal opinions on cannabis- indicates a vacuum of journalistic integrity.
*It is worth noting that although we certainly aren’t in competition, the weekly and often the DAILY circulation of montanafesto (which is less than a year old) is higher than the weekly circulation of the Sheridan County News. Perhaps I will start running obituaries and a police blotter on the blog, readership would certainly skyrocket as the self-righteous tend to feed on the tragedies of others.