Shared by an Heir & Ensnared by the Share


Montana’s  maximum penalty for distribution of dangerous drugs is life in prison and a $50,000 fine, so some may say that 27 year old Matthew Otto got lucky yesterday when he was sentenced to 20 years in the state penitentiary.  What was his crime?  From the Missoulian:

Otto had 3 grams of medical marijuana when he was arrested in November. Otto had a medical marijuana card, but was found guilty of passing the pipe filled with the drug to two passengers while driving down Reserve Street. An off-duty Missoula County sheriff’s detective saw and reported the incident.

Most likely Otto purchased an eighth ounce of medical cannabis from his caregiver (3.5 grams, approximately $30).  He shared with his pair (of friends) but they were quickly arrested possessing a total of 3 grams. He shared about 2 bucks worth of medical cannabis after all, so  I’m disappointed that 18 years of his sentence was suspended.  I simply cannot feel safe knowing such a dangerous criminal will be out on the streets in two years, sharing his medicine with his pals.

And then there is Ms Dru Cederberg, the heir who shared.   Dru is a Billings businesswoman (and heir to the Brach’s Confections fortune) who was convicted of “attempting to maintain a drug-involved premises.” She was given a couple of fines- totaling $550,000.  Dru will spend 8 months on house arrest (in her $ 2 million home) and if she pays the fine within 30 days, the court will even waive the interest.  I’m not condoning Ms. Cederburg’s drug use by any means, but using cocaine at dinner parties with friends doesn’t strike me as a serious crime.  She didn’t sell it. She didn’t introduce it to children.

If Dru wasn’t wealthy, I  doubt she’d have been been fined so heavily.   Google “attempting to maintain a drug involved premises”… this story is listed in nearly all of the links on the first several pages.  Sort of makes you wonder if anyone else has ever been charged with such a violation.  Perhaps they couldn’t convict her on charges more serious.

It must be cases similar to these that convinced Montana’s legislature that the cannabis industry is so generous- generous enough to provide our services, products, and wisdom at no cost whatsoever to patients.  All costs are absorbed by caregivers.  If only the legislators would be so generous.  Here are some suggestions:  work for free.  better yet, pay the state for the privilege of serving us. donate your $733 state paid health insurance premium to someone who can’t afford health insurance (Sponsor a Constituent).  

The lesson of the day, kids:  Sharing is highly overrated.

Leading by Example


It can certainly be argued that attacks against Governor Schweitzer are warranted.  His action, or more appropriately his inaction; is despicable and self-serving. His political future is on his mind, rather than the Montana cannabis population who has deservedly never been considered a  serious voting contingency.  It remains to be seen if we can mobilize our voters enough to be taken seriously. Politicians, with very few exceptions; make decisions that protect themselves first- this shouldn’t shock any of us.  A legislator (one of the few that I like) said recently that Schweitzer is easy to work with if you keep his priorities in mind.

1. Brian Schweitzer    2.  Screwing over the Republican Party   3. The Democrats  4. Montana

For a quarter of a century, cannabis proponents in our nation  have struggled to overcome stereotypes unfairly associated with cannabis.  Montana’s recent regression via the legislature is reminiscent of 1937 or so, progress-wise.  However, we most effectively seek legitimacy and positive recognition by setting good examples, following proper channels, and acting in a civil manner.  I empathize with those who are gravely disappointed.  Some of us will soon be devastated by the actions of  the legislature, physically and financially and as a result, emotions are running high. Some in our group have chosen to ignore all reason in favor of acting like many liberals upon their emotions.  By no means am I trying to tamper our first amendment protections nor am I suggesting we silently allow our rights to be revoked by tyrants, but some of us would be better serving our movement by shutting the hell up.

I’m not a big fan of Governor Schweitzer, although we could certainly have a worse governor.  I won’t defend him but I will grant him a level-albeit very minimal- of respect simply because he is the Governor of our state.  Placing profanity or otherwise crude or offensive language on his Facebook wall, calling him names, or otherwise unsavory behavior doesn’t make much sense.  First of all, he most likely doesn’t care about what you think- if he ever noticed at all.  Second of all, thousands of people read his wall, thus witnessing your activity.  You may believe you are representing only your own opinion, but stereotypes aren’t logical so anyone speaking out is easily lumped in with the industry and movement.  This is why I’m peeved.

I don’t like being associated with Jason Christ and most of you don’t either.  Unfortunately, however; many Montanans associate Jason Christ with us.  He most likely didn’t initially intend to damage the industry so extensively, but it happened. As angry as we are at our elected hacks chastising us and providing “marijuana is like arsenic” analogies, the initial blame shouldn’t fall on them- Our legislators obviously had an agenda- one based on false ideas- but if self-appointed representatives of our industry weren’t publicly boasting about their profits while participating in shady activities, the old stereotypes would have been just that, old stereotypes.  There are unscrupulous people in every industry.  Those in ours simply provided a vehicle for our legislature’s obsession.

We can all agree that there is no shortage of passion associated with either side of the cannabis issue.  Although the opponents currently hold the legislative power, WE HOLD THE TRUTH.  We are bullied by the opposition because they have no other tools.  Knowing this, can we not contrast them simply by being courteous?  I am not directing this lecture at anyone in particular, but I’ve worryingly watched our unity and decorum deteriorate in past weeks.  Egos are out of control.  So is anger.  Fear.  Perhaps each of us should take a deep breath and actually think about our words before verbalizing, typing or posting them.  Ask yourself a few questions, here are a few ideas:

  • Will these words hurt others? 
  • Will these words be taken out of context or used to hurt me or my industry and movement?  
  • Are you setting a good example?
  • Am I legitimizing the prohibitionist’s arguments? 
  • Are my words part of a solution or the problem?
  • What are my true motives? 
  • Would Jason Christ post something like this?
We all need to vent occasionally but perhaps the irrational SUPER PASSIONATE venting should be contained to our own walls- or better yet, private messages as opposed to the walls of our elected officials.
Positive reinforcement is required for any truly effective scolding and this instance is no exception.  You can now officially stop gnashing your teeth, the following words are more friendly.
 We should be proud of our accomplishments, we have been blessed with effective leaders who make sacrifices for us all on a daily basis. We have made great strides and  have a clear plan as well as the initial means to achieve our goals and we all deserve a pat on the back.  Our support crosses partisan boundaries.  In the last few months, we’ve likely learned more about Montana law and the legislative process  than we ever desired.  We are registered to vote! We are taking an active role in our future! My personal goal is to show up at the polls in unprecedented numbers in 2012, armed not only with a desire to affect cannabis legislation, but ALL legislation.   These events will shape our future- this isn’t just about marijuana.  This is about liberty. We have a long battle ahead of us and I encourage readers to support the Montana Cannabis Industry Association in their efforts to protect our rights.  Please join us Saturday night in Billings for a MTCIA mixer, details available at mtcia.org.   I regret to inform you that the GOP God Squad/MONTaliban won’t likely be joining us as the event conflicts with the Yellowstone Lincoln Reagan dinner where they will be congratulating themselves on a job well done. It was a tough choice, but I will see you all at the mixer.

Republican Rhetoric v. Reality: A Conservative Case for Legalization


Early this year, I came out of the closet as a conservative cannabis proponent in a letter to the editor in the Billings Gazette. The next four months were a whirlwind of hearings, protests, pleas, and rants… with a mote of hope thrown in there occasionally.  In that time, I heard a recurring theme from prohibitionists across the state.  They repeated dutifully some variation or another that Montana voters were duped into a  pseudo legalization of cannabis when they were under the impression that only terminally ill patients would be using it, and that this wasn’t what Montanans voted for.  They expressed fear that the cannabis industry would begin to buy elections and recruit its own candidates.  The GOP’s anti-cannabis sheep were certain that medical use of marijuana in Montana was only a stepping stone to full-out legalization of the substance.

In 2004, when Montanans voted to approve the use of medical cannabis, I was an active (if you can call it active) member of the local Republican Women’s group.  Prior to the election, the group began peddling fear and ignorance-based rhetoric-primarily directed at I-148- at a level so extreme, I resigned from the group permanently.  I am not a marijuana user personally and although I did support the issue at the time, I wasn’t intimately involved with the initiative and I really can’t admit with any honesty whether or not the medical law was designed to lead to legalization.   For many reasons as an industry,  we have tried to avoid the legalization issue entirely, but I am going to say it now.  Marijuana should be legal and conservatives should OWN this issue for many numerous reasons…. I won’t, however; hold my breath.

Jobs- The 2010 campaign season was dominated by promises to create a more favorable job climate in our state.  Legalizing and regulating marijuana would create many jobs in numerous industries.   Whether or not MTCIA is successful in temporarily halting SB 423 will have little or no affect on the number of cannabis users in Montana.  Montanans have been smoking pot forever and they will continue to do so regardless of the GOP’s mission to purge the scourge.  Republicans should accept this and embrace the movement.

Fiscal Responsibility/Government Waste- Fiscal responsibility means limiting government expenditures for programs that can be convincingly said to generate benefits in excess of their costs. America’s war on drugs is a miserable- and EXPENSIVE- failure.  In 2009, over 700,000 Americans were prosecuted for marijuana crimes, most (87%) for simply possessing small amounts of the substance.  National Review estimates that approximately 100,000 people are currently imprisoned in the US solely for marijuana crimes. Prior to being arrested, a vast majority of these “criminals” were functioning and taxpaying members of society.  After conviction of a drug crime, many are unable to find work.  In many cases, they enroll in public welfare programs or they turn to crime, either avenue further draining society.  We’ve spent over a trillion dollars on fighting the “war” on drugs- with most of that sum funding anti-marijuana efforts, not meth, heroin, or cocaine.  Considering not even ONE person has died directly from marijuana use/overdose/interaction, wouldn’t rational human beings consider that maybe, just maybe; this isn’t working? Every year, prescription drugs kill at least 300 Montanans, but rarely (except for Bullock’s recent PSAs) do we hear anything about the dangers lurking in our own medicine cabinets. The reality is that over 100 million Americans have experimented with marijuana.  Very few of them actually use it habitually, certainly some do, but that is hardly justification for utilizing the government nanny. Intelligence and logic should still apply, even when we find issues distasteful.  It is truly amazing that  otherwise informed people are influenced so heavily by fear.   It makes sense to reduce budgets on programs that are unnecessary and ineffective.

State Sovereignty-  The Tenth Amendment reads

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

  It required a constitutional amendment to prohibit alcohol and it should for other issues as well.   Regardless of party affiliation, Montanans have an independent streak and most don’t appreciate intervention from the federal government.  Ranchers- Republicans and Democrats-were poised to protect their cattle from wolves, even if that required breaking federal law.  A majority of Montanans want to opt out of federal healthcare reform- and that legislation was written by our own Senator Max Baucus. Montanans said NO to Real ID.  We passed the Firearms Freedom Act, which excludes firearms manufactured in Montana from federal regulation.  Montanans don’t want a nanny.

TEA People- Legalizing marijuana is also a perfect issue for the Tea People- it could easily represent each of the core facets of their “movement”- fiscal responsibility,  constitutionally limited government and free markets.  Throw in one of their favorite amendments- let’s go with the 10th- and we SHOULD have the Mad Hatter’s wet dream.  Montana Tea People, however; are not that interested in liberty unless it adheres to their rather strict religious standards.  The Tea people rant about smaller government and more freedom- marijuana would certainly fall under that umbrella, but no… the Tea people screamed “RINO” at the only Republicans with the balls to vote against the majority.  Finally, drug prohibition is hopelessly inconsistent with allegiance to free markets. Free markets should mean that as long as such practices don’t harm others, businesses can operate as they please and consumers can consume what they want.

The hypocrisy of Montana Shrugged

Safety- While not necessarily a conservative principle, safety is something everyone can appreciate and the Safe Community, Safe Kids repeal group certainly exploited the term, so it is fair game.  If marijuana was legal, it would be regulated and thus, more likely to be safe.  It would be purchased from a reputable purveyor instead of an unscrupulous drug dealer.  The product would meet minimum standards of quality and safety providing peace of mind that you aren’t smoking carcinogenic chemical residue, fungus, or spider mite bodies.  Inflated prices were announced immediately after passage of SB 423.  Remove the prohibition element, prices fall.

Liberty and Individual Freedom- While no party has the monopoly on liberty, they all seem to have a different definition or interpretation of the word.  Only I own my body, the government should have no jurisdiction over what I put in it.  What I do after I put substances in it is another story, but hardly requires federal legislation.

Consider for a moment how we now view these people….

Is this REALLY the sort of legacy conservatives want to leave?

Science/Medical- Science easily justifies the medical use of cannabis as well as affirms the substance’s relative safety for non-medical use.  Compounds in marijuana shrink tumors associated with several particularly deadly cancers and there is evidence that marijuana actually prevents some cancers from occurring. I’m well aware  that as a party, we are proud of our resistance to change.  Advocates across the nation watched Montana’s legislative process intently.  The legislature had the opportunity and the means to create thoughtful legislation representing conservative  and pro-business principles.  Instead, religiosity reigned and Republicans abandoned conservative principles in favor or a religious, big government/control freak agenda. Overwhelmingly they chose the regressive approach and alienated plenty of independents and Republicans as a result.

While it appears there is a fair chance that through the referendum process and key legal challenges, the industry will be able to stop the law until the voters have the opportunity to speak again on this issue in 2012, I feel the need to question the sanity of the GOP leadership.  The GOP-led legislature received a 14% approval rating from Montanans.  Instead of creating stellar- hell,even marginal- legislation to regulate Montana’s medical marijuana program, they  chose to essentially repeal. If marijuana is on the 2012 ballot,  Republicans will have only themselves to blame for mobilizing  liberal voters.  Montana’s Republican legislators, in failure; gave the Democrats the greatest gift of all.  But what do I know?  I’m just a dirty conservative hippie… or something.

Conservatives out there, if you can back up your argument, bring it.  I welcome debate  on this issue because I really want to understand.

Ken Miller’s Tea Stain


In case anyone was wondering whether naive GOP Gubernatorial hopeful Ken Miller was an independent thinker or just an extension of the tea people, we’ve recently seen confirmation that Jennifer Olsen, of Montana Shrugged infamy is the administrator of the Ken Miller for Governor Facebook page.  In case some weren’t aware that Miller had given her the keys to his campaign page, she put all questions to rest in several Facebook comments:

In a race already so crowded, one has to question the thought process behind the near-perennial candidate’s move, especially considering the local tea peoples’ propensity for  hypocrisy- and now THIS.

After the most recent-and so successful (where’s that sarcasm font?)- legislative session, led by the Tea people-backed Republicans, Gubernatorial candidates best be putting some distance between themselves and the tea people.  After all, the legislature was only able to muster a 14% approval rating.  From the looks of comments on the latest Gazette piece on the Tea people’s quest to attract city council candidates, tea people disapproval appears to be at an all-time high as well.

For those of you unfamiliar with Ken Miller’s Gubernatorial campaign, one of his biggest fans has created a series of videos.  Here’s a taste.

Friendship with the Scourge of Montana


Thank you Representative Howard for requesting my Facebook friendship.  I am curious why you would seek a connection to something you consider a “scourge” and a “cartel”, however; and would appreciate an explanation.  I am an active local Republican who happens to be extremely disappointed in those I helped elect to represent us in Montana’s 62nd legislature.

Are you seeking an avenue to offer an apology, not only to me; but to the thousands of hard-working Montana taxpayers you insulted by calling derogatory names or did you simply make a mistake in requesting my friendship? Considering the number of letters I wrote begging each of you to consider science instead of the tired, fear-based rhetoric you continued to utilize, I find it hard to believe that you aren’t aware of my stance on the issue- unless, of course; you didn’t read any of my letters.  You also must have missed my letter to the editor printed in the Billings Gazette and Missoulian…. don’t worry though, Representative, I didn’t miss yours.

Perhaps you are reaching out to explain why you eliminated jobs for thousands of Montanans.  Perhaps you’ve realized the error of your ways and would like forgiveness.  Most likely, however; you noticed that we have scores of mutual conservative friends, live in the same area, and are Christian Republicans.  It certainly couldn’t be that we both hold dear the conservative principles of adherence to the constitution, liberty and limited governmental interference in individual lives, could it?

I apologize if I seem a bit snarky, Representative Howard, but sudden, forced unemployment will do that to a girl.  You see, while you were busy dreaming up Valium and Arsenic analogies and recalling stories from nearly half a century ago, I was comforting patients and business owners who were anxious that this “jobs” session, was anything but.  And what could I say?  The writing was on the wall.

I’ve lived in Montana my entire life, Mr. Howard.  Republican or Democrat, we are all Montanans and most of us aren’t appreciative of federal intervention on any level.  I’d be hesitant to entirely discount the previously expendable voting bloc of cannabis patients, users, and business owners.  You see, in 2004; many of them didn’t vote to allow medical use of cannabis. Why?  Because they didn’t vote at all.  In 2012, however; we may have a very different situation.  Across the state, those people are registering to vote in droves.   As a Republican, I cannot understand why our party would desire to mobilize the liberal voter in that way, especially when we otherwise had a great opportunity to capture the governor’s seat.  But what do I know?

I know that the war on drugs funds illegal terrorism.  I know that nobody has ever died from overdosing on cannabis- EVER.  I know our party is failing to attract my generation of voters.  I know that regardless of religious rhetoric, gay people are not going away and allowing their sexuality to remain a felony is bigoted, hateful, and a dreadfully wasted opportunity for Republicans to appear compassionate and cerebral.

Ben Franklin once said that anyone who trades liberty for security deserves neither.  What a shame it is that we’ve gutted the US Constitution in terms of civil liberties, privacy, and property rights as well as allowed bureaucrats to dictate health policy that should remain between a physician and patient… all in favor of a myth.

That said, let me know if you are still interested in my friendship. Should you reconsider, I’m understanding of your reluctance to associate with someone in the “wrong crowd” and will harbor no ill will.  I also pray, Mr. Howard; for your sake, that never are you faced with a debilitating condition unresponsive to traditional pharmaceutical treatments.

Nicole French

HD50/SD25

A Greed Lecture from a Politician/Attorney….. and one from ME.


In today’s Billings Gazette, Senator Jeff Essmann, sponsor of SB 423 “The Black Market Bill” said:

“Montana voters should be concerned about any group that is selling a schedule-one controlled substance that can raise $50,000 in less than a week,” he said, referring to federal law. “I don’t believe Montana voters wanted to have that kind of activity in the state of Montana.  It should be very obvious that this is no longer about the medicine or the therapy. This is about the money for these people.”

“This is about the money for these people”……. I love being lectured by a politician and attorney about greed.  He is concerned that the cannabis industry could raise $50,000 in less than a week.  What exactly would that entail, I wonder.

  • Each of Montana’s approximately 30,000 patients could donate $1.67
  • Each of Montana’s nearly 5000 caregivers could donate $10
  • Each of our GOP legislators could have done their job at the biennial legislative session and we wouldn’t need the services of attorney Jim Goetz.

I find it so interesting that Essmann mentions that marijuana is a controlled schedule I substance.  Considering he is a fan of ignoring the federal government on wolf protection and Obamacare implementation, one wonders why he is so concerned about the Controlled Substances Act. It is the responsibility and duty of the state Legislature and our governor to protect our state and its citizens from federal intrusion. If our elected officials refuse to defend our citizens from the unconstitutional overreach of the federal government, they need to be replaced.  Our most recent legislative session was led by a Republican/Tea people backed majority focused almost solely on invasive, oppressive bigger government and our populist Governor Schweitzer has expressed his intentions to “hold his nose” as he allows SB 423 to become law.  Oh my.

While I am offended at the implication by Essmann that we are greedy, I’m also reminded that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Most of those sending you emails, blogging, holding meetings and conference calls are NOT paid representatives of the industry.  They are donating their time to this cause and deserve our thanks. I am not comfortable asking anyone for money and I am well aware that most people in the industry are only one harvest away from bankruptcy. I also know very well the costs associated with this business, but unless we are prepared to make unemployment and insolvency part of our plans for the VERY near future, we owe it to everyone involved to put some money where our mouths are. Posting Facebook rants may be liberating, but it isn’t what we need to survive.

I’m begging not only patients, caregivers, and Montanans to donate to this cause, but AMERICANS.  There is far more at stake than simply the medical use of cannabis in our great state, our very liberty is under fire. While disguised as a reform/regulatory bill, anyone who has read SB 423 knows it intends to eliminate the use of medical cannabis in Montana which is in opposition to the will of Montana voters who approved I-148 by a landslide in 2004.

Please go to http://www.mtcia.org/ to assist in preserving Montana’s liberty.  Protect us from the tyrannical religious zealots we unfortunately elected to represent us.   Our goal is $50,000 by the end of today and we are currently short $15,000.  The amount is necessary to retain the legal services of attorney Jim Goetz. On behalf of caregivers and patients statewide, Goetz intends to employ legal actions initially delaying the new law’s implementation as well as  eventually striking down the law in its entirety.  He is the right attorney for this endeavor and we need your help.  Please donate whatever you can, whether it is a significant amount or a few dollars.  The entire nation is watching Montana right now, let’s show them our strength!

The Trust of Montana’s Innocent


 This is the initial segment in a series investigating the motivations of Montana’s anti-cannabis crusaders. Today’s post  features “Pinocchio” Pat Keim, big Tobacco/private prisons/wheat exporter lobbyist.

It has been said that the trust of the innocent is the liar’s most useful tool.  Montana’s 62nd legislative session hearings were rife with exaggerations, unfounded accusations, omissions, and blatant lies.  No oath is required when testifying before legislative committees in Montana.  Legislators appeared happy sifting through the lies, choosing the very best to repeat in future testimony and closing arguments.  Video and audio archives are available online  in case private citizens are interested in fact-checking testimony and testimony clips are available on you tube as well.    Meet Pat Keim, a Montanan typically lobbying for Big Tobacco companies (like Altria and Philip Morris) who, in testimony on behalf of Columbia Grain of Montana, claims the company is unable to find job applicants who test negative for medical marijuana.  Mr. Keim alleges that 100% of applicants were unable to pass necessary pre-employment drug screenings because of their medical marijuana use.

Montanafesto has received information that Mr. Keim’s testimony is not only misleading, but patently false.  In the last six months, we know of at LEAST 3 people, all from the same Columbia Grain facility in Plentywood, MT; who have passed all necessary drug tests and have been hired by Columbia Grain.   Mike Preemer was hired approximately 6 months ago, Mike Fraiser was hired at the beginning of the year, and Nick Chase was hired shortly before the March 11 testimony Keim provided in the preceding clip.  While Fraiser has since left the company, Preemer  and Chase are current Columbia Grain employees.  In Helena last month, an industry activist confronted Keim about the company hiring Nick Chase. Keim reluctantly acknowledged the hire but justified his testimony, claiming the statistics he used in testimony were completed prior to Chase’s employment.

Keim, whose clients in Montana’s most recent session were Alternatives, Inc (a non-profit corporation providing incarceration and treatment facilities for criminals)  and Columbia Grains International (Montana’s largest international grain exporter) for some reason wasn’t working for his typical Big Tobacco clients this session…. or was he?

Perhaps we should examine Columbia Grain’s great concern for eliminating the option for Montana’s ill to use medical cannabis as treatment for their debilitating symptoms.  From Montana’s Office of Political Practices:

I find it somewhat strange that EVERY bill of concern for Columbia Grains International concerned medical marijuana.  Although in limited capacity, I can appreciate the company’s interest in HB 43, which sought to clarify employers’ rights regarding employees who use medical cannabis, it does seem rather suspicious that none of the bills actually involve grain, exports, or anything agricultural.

Patrick Keim provided testimony that was utilized and repeated frequently by GOP cannabis repeal advocates.  If we can discover THREE employees from only ONE of their numerous facilities across the state who were indeed hired recently, it seems all of Keim’s testimony is suddenly suspect. Out of a total number of employees of the company- a number ranging from 93-100- which varied depending on Keim’s particular testimony, it only requires ONE to blow the credibility of his “100% failure” claims.

If medical cannabis is indeed such a dangerous substance, why do opponents of its use need to exaggerate claims and use fictitious figures to project their points?

When testifying in court on very minor offenses, which likely affect only the person cited for the offense; we must swear before the court to provide honest testimony.  Why do we allow lawmakers to rely on flawed and dishonest testimony to create legislation that affects all of our state’s citizens?  If  safety is our goal, we owe our children and communities policies based on facts- not fictitious, profit-driven, religious, or ignorant agendas.  Montana’s 62nd legislative session was truly a disgrace.

What can we, as private Montana citizens, do to combat this disgrace?  First of all, REGISTER TO VOTE.  If you aren’t certain of your registration status, check here.  

Montana Governor Brands “Black Market Bill” (SB 423) Unconstitutional


In a surprising move (surprising to me at least), Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer called Senate Majority Leader Jeff Essmann’s SB 423, “unconstitutional on its face”.  He expressed his intention to issue an amendatory veto on the legally defective legislation as he doesn’t believe it could survive a court battle in its current form   The legislation, which passed Montana’s House and Senate earlier this week has been nicknamed the “black market bill” by opponents who believe eliminating the medical cannabis industry will invite dangerous criminal elements engaged in drug activity to again control the supply of marijuana in Montana.

In an interview with Lee Newspapers State Bureau, Schweitzer was highly critical of the GOP-led 2011 Legislature, expressing his disgust for their “squandering”  of Montana’s 90 day biennial legislative session.  He asked,

“Why don’t you just pass something that works, that’s constitutional and that can survive the test of time?” he asked.

A bipartisan interim committee, after months of work, inspired HB 68, sponsored by Diane Sands (D- Missoula).  While nowhere near perfect legislation, it is difficult if not impossible to find patients or growers who would prefer Essmann’s bill to HB 68, which was tabled in committee.  A re-written version of SB 154, a gray bill sponsored by Republican Dave Lewis (and largely preferred by patients and growers) also received little support from the repeal-driven prohibitionist Republicans.  Referring to HB 68,  Governor Schweitzer said ,

“They threw that in the garbage and now they’re going to send me this (SB) 423, which everybody’s who’s read it says, ‘Oh yeah, it’s unconstitutional,’ ” he said.  “The bill as written is not going to survive the courts.”

Montana’s governor, who recently was featured in national news stories for calling Republicans in the state legislature “Bat-crap crazy” and for registering a “VETO” cattle brand with the state (with which he last week ceremoniously killed bills he considered foolish or unconstitutional) isn’t fond of a requirement in Essmann’s bill that requires Montana’s medical cannabis patients to carry their state licensing card with them at all times, regardless of whether or not they are in possession of marijuana.  Patients are also subject to warrantless searches of their homes at any time and names and addresses of those in the program are provided to local law enforcement officials.   Schweitzer believes such provisions to be violations of the 4th amendment, which protects Americans from unlawful searches and seizures as well as the  federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA.

if you’re taking OxyContin or penicillin or for God’s sake, even aspirin, that is your own personal health care records,” he said. But HB423 is “demanding” that the fact that someone is using medical marijuana and “be turned over to law enforcement in every town.

Schweitzer too acknowledged the black market appeal of the legislation,

“There’s another problem with it, and I think it’s a fundamental problem,” Schweitzer said. “Under this bill, I will guar-an-dang-tee-you, that there will be more illegal marijuana (that) makes it to the alley under this proposal than we currently have because now you’re going to have 4,000, 5,000, 6,000 people growing their own. It’s not possible to monitor all of them.”

“I mean does someone with a straight face think you can have 5,000 people growing their own and none of it makes it to high schools or to college dorm rooms?” he said.

A severability clause was included in the bill, which ensures that, in the event of a court ruling striking components of the legislation, other parts of the bill remain viable.  Because of its inclusion, Schweitzer believes that Essmann and other Republicans are well aware that the bill is unconstitutional.

“Why don’t you just pass something that works, that’s constitutional and that can survive the test of time?” he asked.

That sounds far too easy for the TEA people-inspired Montana GOP, however.  This shouldn’t be about politics, it should be about doing the right thing for the segment of the population who Montana’s original medical cannabis law was designed to protect.  In efforts to eradicate all state-sanctioned medical use of cannabis, Montana’s GOP lawmakers for the past 90 days have resorted to tears, lies, and dramatic stories intended to convince the legislative body and public that our state is now considered a “source nation, like Columbia” our youth are prostituting themselves for cannabis, and that caregivers are selling marijuana in middle and high schools across the state.  Oddly enough, there have been no arrests made for any of those particular crimes.

Sponsor of the bill, Jeff Essmann cited recent correspondence with federal officials who “clarified” federal policy  in his bid to save our state from the evils of cannabis.  No word on whether he used such correspondence to ensure Montana is in compliance with federal law regarding wolves or implementation of federal health care reforms however.  We are all aware that the federal government knows best anyway, right?

Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”
Federal Bureau of Narcotics Chief Harry J. Anslinger, 1929

Republicans in Montana have been hammered by those on the right this session as well as the typical lefty critics after various testimonies  in reference to  blow-dart murders, appropriate state prison sentences for gay recruitment, and the dangers of punishing DUIs were publicized on numerous news programs. While Republicans across the nation- including several GOP presidential nomination hopefuls- are advocating sweeping  marijuana law reforms, Montana’s Republicans are determined to move backwards as they promote their dangerously myopic “morality” agenda.

President Obama’s Audacity of Dope


By now it is clear to most Americans that many of Barack Obama’s campaign promises were nothing more than hollow rhetoric.  Obama’s failure to deliver is a relief to most conservatives who weren’t excited about the prospects of net neutrality, higher taxes, and cap & trade legislation while Obama’s base is also livid with him because he didn’t fight hard enough for single payer health care or ending tax cuts for the wealthy, and he also failed to reform our immigration policy.  While shocking to virtually nobody, progressives expected more of Obama.  After all, he had also promised an unprecedented level of transparency.

Obama appears to be particularly hypocritical in his administration’s prosecutions of medical marijuana.  Obama made very specific promises regarding federal prosecution of medical marijuana facilities in states with medical marijuana laws in place.

The White House, in 2009 offered the following statement:

“The President believes that federal resources should not be used to
circumvent state laws, and as he continues to appoint senior
leadership to fill out the ranks of the federal government, he expects
them to review their policies with that in mind.”

Despite numerous vows to the contrary, only days after his inauguration, Obama allowed the DEA to raid multiple medical grow facilities in California and other medical marijuana states.  Since Obama took office, his administration has engaged in over 100 aggressive medical cannabis raids- in comparison to the Bush administration’s total of just over 200 raids…. in EIGHT entire years. When not engaging in raids, the Obama administration terrorizes medical marijuana patients and businesses via the IRS.   Americans for Safe Access, a medical cannabis advocacy organization,  has given Obama a failing grade for his medical cannabis policies.

It appears that Obama considers the cannabis-friendly crowd to be a  politically disposable bloc of voters, and maybe he is correct.  I suspect, however; that if Montanans come out of their cannabis closet- even if only to vote- that our state legislature will look VERY different in the 2013 legislative session. The question is how to effectively mobilize them- doing so has traditionally been a challenge.

Smaller government is a core belief of the Republican party- one would expect that allowing citizens, with their physicians, to choose the health therapy they prefer would fit into the smaller government component, but that isn’t always the case.  While the Republican-led Montana legislature should certainly be blamed for the fate of medical cannabis in the state (a repeal bill masquerading as a reform bill-  Senator Jeff Essmann’s SB 423- is likely on Governor Brian Schweitzer’s desk today), not all conservatives support a nanny-state government.  Milton Friedman’s criticism of the failed war on drugs was based on his devotion to the principles of limited government.  William Buckley, founder of the conservative National Review, supported legalization and mocked silly fear-based rhetoric utilized by prohibitionists.  Glenn Beck, Pat Buchanan, and 2012 GOP Presidential hopefuls  Ron Paul, and Gary Johnson also support legalization.

While Democrats have traditionally been credited with advocating cannabis reform, Obama has shown us via actions and policy that the Democrat Party does not necessarily support cannabis reform endeavors either.   We all need to ask our politicians- regardless of party affiliation and prior to primary elections- specifically how they feel about issues important to us all.

Hail Mary Jane: Montana’s Governor and the Fate of Medical Cannabis


Dear Governor Schweitzer:

 I humbly write,  in hopes that you will consider vetoing SB 423.  The legislation is not only contrary to the will of the people, but it endangers the very segment of the population the original bill was designed to benefit. I am a lifelong active and outspoken Republican-  never prior to this legislative session, however;  have I been so thankful to have a Democrat Governor.  I understand that you have come to an agreement on this issue with leaders of both houses and I can only pray that the medical cannabis patients and industry are not casualties of compromise.
The GOP is concerned about marijuana ruining our “rough and tough cowboy image”, but they should be far more concerned about the stereotypes their legislation and public statements are perpetuating.  The lunatics running our legislative branch have brought us plenty of media attention- from declaring DUI laws so oppressive that they ruin Montana’s way of life, birther bills, debates on returning to the gold standard or passing resolutions to remove our NATION from the UN to reinforcing current unconstitutional statutes making homosexual acts felonies and imposing the Code of the West on our citizens who don’t need a code to live by. Such negative publicity endangers our “cowboy” image far more than treating our infirm with compassion and dignity.
Regardless of whether or not you personally approve of the use and/or cultivation of medical cannabis, an industry has grown around a need.  This industry employs thousands of formerly unemployed Montanans- not only the approximately 5000 state-licensed caregivers but many carpenters, contractors, electricians, as well as employees of gardening supply shops, hardware stores, and security firms. It is irresponsible, arrogant and downright malicious to destroy an entire industry based on the majority party’s misguided idea of morality.
 The conference committee members freely admitted that they weren’t educated on the cultivation of cannabis nor were they familiar with the science behind the substance.  This was not, however; for lack of trying on the part of the industry.  We have emailed, called, made personal visits, opened our operations for legislators to tour, all to no avail.  It was clear at each hearing that the GOP legislators had an agenda to destroy the industry, regardless of our testimonies, emails, calls, and visits.  One particular legislator even went so far as to attack me for my views, sending my personal contact information to repeal proponents with the instructions to harass me. At an LCC fundraiser recently, the House majority leader, Rep. McGillvray, in his speech, lamented that Montana was “wasting so much money on meth prevention when the real problem in our state is medical marijuana”.  It is humiliating to me as a Republican to watch legislators I helped elect make such a mockery of our party, our legislative body, and our state.  These legislators are college-educated professionals yet they prefer to rely on their tired, self-righteous, and unfounded political rhetoric instead of accepting scientific data.
The GOP has been very selective in their interpretation and exploitation of the Constitution.  They condemn any federal intervention in the imposition of health care reform or protecting wolves yet when it suits their agenda, as in this case; they are quick to praise the federal government.   While the federal raids happened well over a month ago, there have still been no indictments- yet the Republicans in opposition to medical marijuana, use the raids to justify repealing our cannabis law and destroying an industry. None of the Montanans who were raided have been even charged with a crime let alone convicted of one.  Incessantly the prohibitionists rant about caregivers selling marijuana to school children, yet there have been no arrests of these conveniently unnamed individuals.  Most people in this industry would like to see such people arrested as such behavior puts our patients’ legal access at risk.
The legislative body has had 3 prior sessions to approve thoughtful medical cannabis legislation, they failed to do so.  Nobody could foresee the Ogden memo or it’s influence on the proliferation of patients in Montana but that does NOT mean that those patients do not suffer legitimately.  Who are our legislators- attorneys, businessmen, and ministers- to tell physicians that 15 patient recommendations warrants an automatic investigation at the doctor’s own expense?
SB 423 is an egregious example of economic terrorism. After Milburn’s precious repeal bill was vetoed, the majority party planned to deliver to you yet another repeal bill disguised as a regulatory/reform bill, hoping that it would satisfy your desire to regulate the industry.  Please do not be fooled by this masquerade- this legislation attacks our compassionate cannabis law on every level.
 Patients will most likely not be able to afford the necessary and onerous requirements to substantiate and confirm their conditions, physicians (who already shy away from recommending cannabis primarily due to stigma and bias, but also fear of federal prosecution and prohibition by medical facility administrations) will likely be more apt to prescribe a narcotic pain reliever- often to patients’ detriment. When prescribing Oxycontin, which related overdoses and drug interactions kill thousands of Americans annually- only one physician is needed.  When prescribing dependency-prone ADHD medications for CHILDREN- one of which is pharmaceutical methamphetamine- only one physician is required.  Physicians, who have successfully completed far more medical education than most of our legislators combined, should not be subject to this sort of legislation, which shows no respect for the position.
 Caregivers will not be able to afford to provide their services, skills, and wisdom on a strictly charitable basis. Advertisement bans will prevent patients from locating caregivers in their area- if there happen to be any, that is. Laboratories, which ensure quality control are prohibited. The conference committee clearly has no clue how expensive and labor-intense the cultivation of cannabis can be.  They are unfamiliar with patients’ needs, growing methods, potential for infestation, etc. Their moral agenda puts ill Montanans’ health and well-being in serious jeopardy.  Patients are often not only too ill or disabled to successfully cultivate their own medicine, they typically haven’t a clue how to do so.  Of the ones who are physically able, most don’t have the necessary space, lighting, ventilation, or moisture and temperature regulation required of the cannabis plant.  In addition to that, because providers under SB 423 don’t have the ability to legally  “buy or sell mature marijuana plants, seedlings, cuttings, clones, usable marijuana or marijuana-infused products, we have to wonder how patients will obtain them- or how they will deal with an infestation, an electricity failure, an accidental fertilization or a hermaphrodite plant without the ability to obtain these vital components of cannabis cultivation.
Most of us have turned little or no profits in this industry, but why should capitalism be condemned?  This legislation forces growers to not only work for no profit, growers cannot even be compensated for the expenses incurred in growing the medicine. Plant limits are reduced and growers are limited to three patients.  I suspect this will not be a problem- after all, the more plants one has, the more money the grower loses.  Legislators don’t work for free, I’m shocked and disturbed that they expect us to do so. Banning storefronts and advertising won’t be much of an issue- in fact, including those provisions is a waste of time and paper because common sense (which is seriously lacking in our legislature) tells us that storefronts and advertising require capital.  Providers are now essentially charities so I cannot comprehend how anyone on the conference committee would consider these restrictions necessary.
I understand that the GOP believes the law frivolously allows the recreational use of a federally banned substance and that they consider it at best, a  privilege.  That said, prohibiting Montanans from using the substance medically solely because they have committed crimes seems rather callous.  Are symptoms of debilitating diseases less valid because of sins of the past? Not only is it inhumane, this component of the legislation invalidates the use of cannabis as a MEDICINE which regressively validates those possessing the “marijuana is an illegal substance” stance.
I hope you are planning to utilize your “VETO” brand at least one more time this session,  and that you will consider doing so on SB 423. The lunacy of this legislative session has taught me some painful political lessons and although I realize that voters’ memories are historically short, mine is anything but.  Should you veto this bill, you will earn my respect and should you have political aspirations beyond  Montana’s Governor, I may even assist in your endeavors.  At the very least, I will try to restrain my bloggers from any unfair attacks and I give you my word that if you are criticized by Republicans for branding SB 423 with the VETO, I will defend that action as long as I live.  Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.  Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Sincerely,
Nicole French
SD 25/HD 50

Corporate and Cannabis Socialism, Montana Republicans Sell Out


Montana’s Republican-led 2011 legislature has taken its assault on liberty to the legislative finish line after approving legislation giving corporations unprecedented power via eminent domain as well as passing bills responsible for decreased patient access and the  inevitable destruction of the medical cannabis industry.

Common sense Republicans, like those of us at montanafesto, have been critical of the legislature since the session began.  A Republican friend working in Helena during the session said “it is frightening that the only ones making any sense in Helena are Democrats”.  Numerous posts via social media outlets summarize the session accurately but the only ones supportive of the Republicans  are typically from the Montana GOP itself or one of its pathetic party loyalists, and even those posts are all but disappearing.    A recent tweet by a Democrat operative said “you know when Rep Ellie Hill and Montanafesto are agreeing on issues, this session has gone off the rails.”  Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to have an admin of Left in the West promoting anything (here and here) written by any of our bloggers let alone myself.

The outrage is not limited to Montana bloggers, Tweeters and Facebookers, however.  Even the Republican Liberty Caucus is disgusted with Montana’s legislature.  In a post entitled “Montana Republicans Sell out for Big Government“, the author writes about the Montana GOP:

they are not committed to common sense government at all, but are instead beholden to special interests, corporate socialism, and the nanny state.

Most of the GOP legislators who supported the nanny state-style measures were TEA party-supported.  The TEA party, whose power and size appears to be diminished, likely in part due to this sort of  hypocrisy, should be up in arms about Montana’s Republican legislators, but I haven’t heard a peep from them. In all fairness, that could be in part due to the fact that local leaders blocked me on Facebook after I began questioning their motives and practices.  I believe that  inconsistencies between the TEA party’s stated positions and actions of its leaders are contributing to the decline and ultimate demise of the TEA party.  The defense of liberty will continue, with or without the TEA party.

According to LibertarianRepublican.net

 “Sounding like something straight out of an Ayn Rand novel, a renewable energy corporation out of Canada is pushing legislation to allow for seizure of private property rights in Eastern Montana. The Bill pits small landowners such as ranchers in Eastern Montana, against government-backed corporate interests and many environmental groups in support of renewable energy.”

One exception, Rep. Mike Miller, who was noted with Rep Jerry O’Neill as opposing the big government measures, said via Facebook:

I am surprised by some of the “liberty loving” reps. that voted to repeal and that let their personal anti-drug feelings override their principles for less government and a persons right to control his own body.

A blogger at 4 and 20 Blackbirds, early in the session summarized Montana’s GOP hypocrisy accurately:

The Montana GOP loves them some freedom, but only when its smothered in their own special GOP brand of Freedom Sauce. While they push issues such as setting up local militias, givingsheriffs ultimate local law enforcement authority, giving healthcare providers freedom to deny services to patients because of differing morals, and expanding individual gun rights including no longer needing a permit to carry a concealed weapon; on many other issues currently up for debate in Helena the GOP is proving that they want to curtail local decision-making and even the role that individual citizens play in politics and policy making.

Perhaps the biggest GOP attack on individual freedoms in Montana is the GOP’s push to override voter initiates and weaken the voter initiative process in the future. If Montana voters had passed initiatives banning abortion or abolishing the state’s DEQ I’m sure conservatives would be praising the Montana citizenry’s grounded and well thought out votes.

If nothing else, I’ve grown through this session- not only into a very disgruntled Republican, but also as a blogger and a person. If LITW and even Montana Cowgirl can be in agreement, even if only occasionally, with those of us at montanafesto, there is hope for our state.  I look forward to a day where Rep Ken Peterson-style statements are condemned not only by Democrats or even Peterson’s own Republican Party, but by everyone- as Montanans and as human beings.


Montana’s SB 423: GOP Plan to Purge the “Scourge”


Dear Montana State Senators and Representatives,

I urge you all to oppose SB 423.

Essmann’s SB 423 is anti-patient. 

The legislation repeals Montana’s medical cannabis law while masquerading as an innocent and  necessary reformation bill.  While Montanans may not have intended for the law to create a thriving industry, they did not intend for the law to be overturned in a political move by the majority party either.  This legislation will eliminate legal access to a safe and effective substance for many Montanans and endangers access for the remainder. Patients also are forced to choose only one method of ingestion- smoking/vaporizing or edible products.  We are a patient-driven industry- each patient has a different symptom or type of pain.  At different times of the day, different effects are desired, eliminating their right to use cannabis as needed is cruel. SB 423 harms the very people that the law was initially created to benefit.

Essmann’s SB 423 is anti-jobs.

Regardless of whether or not you personally approve of the use and/or cultivation of medical cannabis, an industry has grown around a need.  This industry employs thousands of formerly unemployed Montanans- not only the approximately 5000 state-licensed caregivers but many carpenters, contractors, electricians, as well as employees of gardening supply shops, hardware stores, and security firms. It is irresponsible, arrogant and downright malicious to destroy an entire industry based on your personal idea of morality.

Essman’s SB 423 is anti-capitalism.

The party of smaller government and free markets is proposing regulations that drastically limit patients’ access to cannabis on every level.  No longer will patients have access to a variety of strains, in fact; most patients will no longer have a caregiver at all.  Because caregivers are limited to a maximum of 3 patients, most patients will be losing theirs July 1, 2011. Patients in many cases are too ill or otherwise unequipped to cultivate their own medicine.  By essentially forcing them to either grow their own or locate someone lacking experience but willing to do so for them, they are at high risk of being unable to treat their symptoms.  Growing cannabis isn’t like growing a philodendron. It has very specific requirements, and deviation from a standard of care provided by an experienced grower has a high potential for disaster (fertilization, infestation, fungus, etc) In addition to the strict patient limits, the caregiver not only cannot profit from providing the service and product to their patients, they must operate at a loss as growers cannot even receive reimbursement for the expenses related to growing the plants.  Electricity, nutrients, seeds, soil or other media, pots, ventilation, CO2…. the expenses are significant as is the level of attention required to successfully cultivate medical grade cannabis.

When a ruling class of intellectuals, bureaucrats and social planners (yes, that would be YOU) decide what people the want or what is good for society and then use the coercive power of the State to regulate, tax, and redistribute the wealth of those who work for a living, controlling both the supply and the demand side of industry…. sounds a lot like socialism to me.

Essmann’s SB 423 is hypocritical.

When it comes to wolves, firearms, Real ID, or Obamacare, our party is eager to assert our tenth amendment rights but in discussion of cannabis, we conveniently and selectively use the federal ban of schedule I substances to comply with our “moral” agenda.  I think we all know that the constitution does not give the federal government the right to impose such bans- after all, prohibiting the use of alcohol required a constitutional amendment, why is cannabis any different? You either want smaller government or you do not. You cannot have it both ways.

What do I know?  I’m just a lowly Republican cannabis caregiver. I haven’t a clue of the demands required of serving in the state legislature, so consider this.  How would you feel if suddenly the cannabis industry was in charge of creating the rules and regulations of the Montana’s legislative branch?  Instead of educating ourselves on the legislative process, we chose our own path, an ignorant course with little regard for the individuals affected by our decisions.  When you tried to voice your opinions about our agenda, we either ignored you entirely or patronized you publicly. We called you, your colleagues and staffers derogatory names and made sweeping judgments on your character and sanity.

In the words of Rep Rob Cook (R-Conrad) “I’m going to ask that we take a minute here, to reflect on our own hypocrisy.”

Thanks to each of you for the sacrifice of serving in our legislature.  I would appreciate a “no” vote on this legislation.  Thank you for your time and consideration of this matter.

Highlights From Lowlifes: Montana’s 62nd Legislature


This legislative session it seems Montana is ALWAYS in the news.  We’ve made “The Colbert Report”, “Anderson Cooper 360″, Huffington Post, New York Times, CNN, and according to Speaker Milburn, he was interviewed by the Swedish World Federation Against Drugs on a radio show.  We have yet to confirm this interview’s existence with anyone other than Speaker Milburn, but he assures us that it exists, and naturally, we believe him.  After all, he is the one who informed us that Montana is now known as a “source country, just like Columbia” because of our massive marijuana exports.  Although the session isn’t quite over, as leadership needed a vacation, here are a few highlights from Montana’s 62nd Legislative session.

  1. ‎”I’m going to ask that we take a minute here and reflect upon our own hypocrisy.” Rep. Rob Cook R-Conrad. INDEED.
  2. “If Jesus Christ himself were here today he would be an opponent of this bill,” Harris Himes speaking against a bill to abolish the death penalty.  Yes, Rev. Himes, if you were in the chair, he may indeed approve.
  3. “It’s poison, a kind of poison, it’s kind of like taking arsenic with Valium in it – it will make you feel good until it kills you. That’s the truth.” Rep. David Howard (R-Park City) speaking about medical marijuana.  And we all know marijuana kills…. how many people annually?  That’s right Rep. Howard, ZERO.
  4. “It is God himself who said homosexuality is an abomination and he has various punishments for it….. they will surely be put to death”.  Rev. Harris Hines in testimony supporting discrimination of gays. Again, that death thing.
  5. “The most important reason to repealing medical marijuana is  that marijuana and its usage is offensive to God”  Rev. Harris Himes.  Himes may want to check out Genesis 1:29
  6. “He (Dr. Carlton Turner)  told us he’d take almost any of the other drugs- crank, heroin, methamphetamines under clinical  conditions- but he wouldn’t take marijuana.  Every time they’d done a human test on it, it scared him half to death.”— Rep David Howard admits FEAR motivates him to lie?
  7. I’ll never have my brother back,  we need to save others people’s brothers.— Rep James Knox, fighting tears as he pimped his brother for marijuana repeal while inadvertently advocating nanny state government.
  8. My birth mom told me had abortion been legal, I wouldn’t have been calling her.”  Rep James Knox testifying on house floor on an abortion bill, making a great case for post natal abortion.
  9. Open Cow, Open Woman, Rep Regier compares women to cows.  This one defies all explanation.
  10. There’s new ways to kill you know, in prisons, they take little pieces of paper.  They take their blood, their saliva and do blow darts on the guards, there are new and unique ways to kill.” —Rep Janna Taylor.  I’m not sure what Taylor is getting at here.
  11. “I also voted no on this bill, the body should know that the people who run ponzi schemes, they don’t have any money of their own…. I couldn’t imagine standing in front of my constituents in Park City, where none of them make more than $35,000/yr to say we’re gonna come up with a scheme to get back up to 25,000 of what people have lost investing…….”  –Rep. Dave Howard who thinks his constituency is poor.
  12. Two wrongs don’t make a right- Sen. Verdell Jackson referring to victims of rape and incest.  While I’m not a fan of abortion, I wonder if Sen. Jackson would feel differently if he had been raped.
  13. ‎”The only way I’d be supportive of that (Dept. of Ag regulating medical marijuana) is if they treated marijuana as a noxious weed.” –Sen. John Brenden (R-Scobey). I grew up in this senate district and I can tell you, nobody up there gives a damn about medical marijuana.  Brenden is a bit noxious himself.
  14. “Across the street from the church was a bevy of good-looking young ladies going in and out of this place……they were growing marijuana across the street…. I didn’t know such good-looking women were interested in horticultural prospects”– Rev. Harris Himes. Where do we find these guys? Himes is made for mockery!
  15. “I got a medical marijuana business who moved in next door to me and it’s been craziness ever since. You see ‘em them behind their shop, behind the commercial building, they got their arms outstretched, they’re trying to fly. I find people sleeping in my vehicles in front of my business. A month and a half ago they buried a van.”– Austin Kaufman, Billings.
  16. Rep Ken Peterson: If women would make better choices they wouldn’t get cervical and breast cancer. So defund family planning already.
  17. If you act gay in public, Rep Ken Peterson wants your felon ass in jail for a decade.  Ten years in prison will teach you how to be straight, right?
  18. Steve Zabawa in SB 423 hearing: “Marijuana is illegal! The state of Montana is gonna get arrested!” Zabawa is no stranger to illegal activity, he does sell cars for a living.  He also hires most of his employees from the Alpha House, a halfway house for men returning to society after being imprisoned for major crimes. Several of his current sales and management staff are felons, actually.  A couple of them defrauded the federal government by filing false FEMA claims after Hurricane Katrina. After serving time, Zabawa hired them back!
  19. Sen. Ed Walker saying, “I don’t believe it can be reformed. It needs to be repealed. There are times the voters get it wrong, and that is what happened in 2004.”  I wonder if we may have also got it wrong in 201o when you were elected, Ed.  Just sayin’.
  20. Montana is now considered a “source country”, same as Columbia.“- Speaker Mike Milburn (R-Cascade) I wonder why anyone would bury a van filled with  marijuana if that is the case.  So many questions.
  21. “Sometimes the most compassionate answer you can give is no you don’t need this,” Senator Rowlie Hutton (R-Havre) said.  “When you love someone you are willing to do an intervention. I love this state, and it’s time we do an intervention,” concluded Hutton, who wants to take away medicine from the ill. Compassionate indeed.
  22. “The people who use medical marijuana for legitimate uses, they’ve been had. I think they probably feel like the dog who gets in the car and as they’re driving they realize they are going to the vet instead of the park. They got in with the wrong crowd,” testified Sen. Edward Walker (R-Billings).  The wrong crowd, Sen. Walker, spends time with you and your buddies at that creepy temple under the rims.
  23. Tough DUI laws “are destroying a way of life that has been in Montana for years and years,” said Rep. Hale.  But medical cannabis is WAY too dangerous.
  24. “Homosexuals can’t go out into the heterosexual community and try to recruit people, or try to enlist them in homosexual acts,” Peterson says. He provides an example: “‘Here, young man, your hormones are raging. Let’s go in this bedroom, and we’ll engage in some homosexual acts. You’ll find you like it.’” Peterson hasn’t actually seen this happen, he says, because “I don’t associate with that group of people at all… I’ve associated with mainstream people all my life.” Again, those mainstream people hang out at the LDS temple in west Billings.
  25. And then we have this beauty.  You be the judge.
Special thanks to Hiedi Handford of Montana Connect Magazine for editing and uploading the 300+ testimony videos.  Other legislative testimony can be viewed on her YouTube channel here

Not What Montanans Voted For


I’m reluctantly inclined to agree with Montana’s Republican legislators who voted to overturn a citizen’s initiative citing that it “wasn’t what Montanans voted for”.   While I don’t agree with overturning an initiative without another initiative, we are indeed experiencing something we did not vote for….. I’m looking squarely at Montana’s Republican legislators.

YOU, our elected officials, are NOT what Montanans voted for.  You campaigned on platforms of job-creation, economic stimulation, fiscal responsibility and personal liberties.  Unfortunately for Montana’s citizens, you are frauds- too lazy to reform Montana’s medical marijuana law, too arrogant to research any aspect of the issue that failed to fit into the utopian image of Montana life according to Joseph Smith…. or Brigham Young….. or the Rev. Harris Himes (who also believes gay people should be executed). Have you ever considered accepting your failures as parents? Our morals aren’t given to us by our government and anyone who is unable to impose morality on himself is likely to be unsuccessful in legislating it for others.  Perhaps your behavior nullifies your credibility? Set a good example instead of asking your GOVERNMENT to do your job.

For reasons unknown,  the Republicans in our legislature, armed with a radical marijuana agenda, aligned themselves early with Puritanical religious zealots and  prohibitionist organizations disguised as community interest groups.   Never reaching out to the patients who used cannabis to relieve symptoms of debilitating illness, nor consulting with cannabis growing facilities, the Republican wolves instead set goals for a full repeal of the law, reluctantly approving a back-up reform bill in the event that Governor Schweitzer will veto the full repeal of Montana’s medical cannabis law.

It is astounding that Montana has legislators eager to defend our “right” to drive while drunk but unwilling to allow us to self-medicate with a safe and effective treatment recommended by our physician.  It is disgusting that we have obese legislators boozing and eating themselves into oblivion while we pick up their health care tab.  Most disturbing is the hypocrisy of it all.

The legislators continue making their claim that I-148 isn’t what Montanans voted for, so we must repeal.  Considering the language of the initiative:

MONTANA MEDICAL MARIJUANA ACT: Medical use means the acquisition, possession, cultivation, manufacture, use, delivery, transfer, or transportation of marijuana or paraphernalia relating to the consumption of marijuana to alleviate the symptoms or effects of a qualifying patient’s debilitating medical condition.

It does seem rather strange that the GOP legislators would continue in this direction…. 62% of Montanans voted to approve the use of cannabis.  Allowing Montana voters a chance at repealing or changing it seems reasonable.  I’m not a cannabis user but I must admit hearing arrogant Republicans speak on behalf of all Montanans as well as making numerous unqualified judgments on medical concerns is infuriating. There are no arguments for prohibition that make any sense at all, but the GOP, who should be fighting for our individual freedoms has instead sold their souls to puritanical hypocrites- as a result, we have a government punishing people for attempts to fight pain and incarcerating people for harmless pleasure.

A puritan is a person who pours righteous indignation into the wrong things.

The puritan through life’s sweet garden goes to pluck the thorn and cast away the rose.

Another Hard Knock for Rep James Knox


Representative James Knox used his website http://www.citizentruth.com (it has since been removed but check out this link about it) to degrade city firefighters.  Here is a screenshot of his Facebook account where he clumsily attempts to promote his “very cool website for Montana”.  He’s so sly! Knox, well known for his attention to grammar confuses us by using the word “sean”.  It doesn’t seem to be someone’s name, as it is not capitalized, so we can only assume that Knox made a spelling error.  I’m not especially nit picky about small details but if our legislators aren’t smart enough to even utilize spell check (especially when the one in question owns a computer business) I’m afraid there is something terribly wrong.  Anyway, I digress……

Knox promotes his website, citizen truth, to mock firefighters

According to a report released by the city of Billings yesterday, Knox’s ongoing and one-sided feud with the firefighters didn’t end with his cool new website.  It appears that he was not only commenting on the Billings Gazette online forums under various online identities, he also caused a serious altercation between the Fire Chief and several retired and active duty firefighters while they were eating at a local restaurant.  Here is the story:

Retired firefighters Don Regnier, Phil Phillippi and Ed Newlin and active firefighters Mike Martin and Ron Martin (no relation) were having their weekly breakfast on Dec. 7 at the Alpine Casino on 16th Street West.  A firefighter made a reference to a comment left online in discussion (shown below) of a Billings Gazette article about the firefighters by “taxed2crabbiness” who they suspected was actually Rep. James Knox who was seated at the next table- also eating I presume.

Grammatical errors, Knox? Really?

Never one to shy away from the limelight, Knox was certain to not only send the Billings Fire Chief Dextras a text message, but to also call him immediately thereafter to tattle to inform him that his firefighters were conspiring to sabotage the brakes on Quick Response Units as well as planning to put additives in the water.  He told Chief  Dextras “You better get over here“.  Within minutes, Dextras arrived in uniform.  He approached the table of firefighters, red-faced and fuming angry, according to the firefighters.  Oddly, however; Knox claims the chief was very calm.  From the Billings Gazette:

“He was angry as hell. He was very angry,” Regnier said.

“The man had fire in his eyes. Three-quarters of the way through it he still called me a liar.”

Mike Martin, one of the active firefighters and a union leader, said the incident was very tense. He said the firefighters would never do anything to damage city equipment or put the public in danger.

“It was so confrontational that I didn’t know if I was going to have to jump up and fight or what,” Martin said.

An investigator was called in from Helena by the city of Billings.  He found that Dextras inappropriately disrupted a meeting of private citizens after assuming wrongly that the firefighters were already guilty based solely on Knox’s phone call. He found no evidence that the firefighters were actually planning to sabotage the trucks.  The city redacted Knox’s name from the investigation documents although Knox gave permission to use his name.  That doesn’t surprise me a bit for some reason.  Knox says, “it was pretty evident what they were saying.” Apparently only to Knox.

This is yet another chapter in the continuing drama surrounding Knox.  Rep. James Knox was fortunate enough to ride the tea party wave into office last November, but constant mistakes, malicious attacks, and refusal to acknowledge the needs of his constituents will no doubt combine to ensure he is a ONE-TERM legislator.  It is unfortunate for Knox who suffered a heart attack shortly after the 2011 legislative session began and likely needs his $733/mo health insurance compliments of we the people, but fortunate for Montana.

See below for some highlights of Knox’s first and last legislative session.


Washington Post: Rick Hill, Weak Candidate


Cowgirl has the story:  According to the Washington Post…….

Republicans aren’t totally sold on Hill, who notably attacked a female opponent in the late 1990s for being unmarried and without children. But even a weak GOP candidate could put up a tough fight in this Republican-leaning state. And once the state’s legislative session ends, some fresher faces could jump in on the GOP side.

 

Who knew Montana had mermaids? Rick Hill did.....

As if the dramatic stories flapping around about Hill’s extramarital affairs with tailed ladies of the sea weren’t enough….

 

Hill may have raised more cash than the other GOP candidates thus far- after all, he is a former US Congressman- but something tells me the MONTaliban members dominating the right wing these days won’t soon forget about Hill’s character flaws.  Rep Ken Peterson wouldn’t likely associate with someone so far out of the mainstream and oh my…. what would the rough and tough proponents of the Cowboy Code of Ethics have to say about this?

The majority of donors to Hill are shady and scandalous lobbyists, moderate ex-legislators, wealthy insurance executives, and reluctant Helena insiders.  Hill has yet to issue any statements in response to Mermaid-gate but the exposure may have played a part in some prominent members of the “moral majority” (which is neither) making contributions to Ken Miller- notably, a couple of the masters of propaganda pillars of the community, Rep David Howard and Jeff Laszloffy (Montana Family Foundation).  Republicans may be wise to distance themselves from the elderly Hill as there are a number of  far superior GOP hopefuls in the 2012 Gubernatorial election.

H/T Montana Cowgirl

Real Montana Scourge: Medical Marijuana or ‘Moral’ Majority


You may recall from last month, Montana’s 2011 Legislature earned failing grades in a Billings Gazette poll in which Montana voters were asked to judge the performance of the legislative body, led by Montana Republicans. In fact, only 24% gave the legislature a positive rating.  Judging from recent events, I’m left to wonder if perhaps they are striving for a new low.

The Republicans, by ignoring constituents and engaging in the sort of behavior conservatives  typically would associate with Nancy Pelosi have alienated even the most loyal supporters this session.   Our legislature is truly out of hand, as evidenced by my frequent anti-hypocrisy posts.  There is something very wrong when I cannot find even one liberal who is more deserving of criticism than those in the leadership of my own party. The Republicans, with a few exceptions; are downright obsessed with meddling in the private affairs of Montanans. Don’t forget about the the national coverage our state has received for frivolous legislation and unbelievable comments made by our GOP legislators…. this situation is unreal.  I am personally embarrassed.

* Below is a clip of Representative Ellie Hill of Missoula boldly defending the medical cannabis industry and patients prior to Representative Dave Howard of Park City, with contempt in his voice, referring to marijuana as a poison and of course, a “scourge”.  Conveniently, Howard also manages to casually blame the Governor Brian Schweitzer for the legislature’s refusal inability to pass thoughtful legislation regulating the medical cannabis industry- because the governor hasn’t “told ANYBODY what he plans to do” with HB 161.

*Representative Ken Peterson of Billings publicly stated that although the Supreme Court of the United States as well as the Montana Supreme Court has ruled a Montana law criminalizing homosexuals to be unconstitutional, he believes there are at least two violations of the law he would consider enforceable. The first of those criminal acts is the “recruitment” of non-gays by gays. I never realized when hanging out with our homosexual friends we were in so much danger. Thanks for letting me know, Rep. Peterson! He also believes that the Supreme Court decisions apply only to homosexual acts behind closed doors, so any public display of homosexuality would be fair game for potential enforcement by the MONTaliban officers.  Read all about Rep. Peterson’s raging homophobia here.

Reverend Harris Himes has been making the rounds- from testifying on behalf of Montana Eagle Forum, his congregation (yes, he is a pastor) and God.  He lectured committee members about repealing the medical use of marijuana and in favor of discrimination of gays, at one point even declaring that homosexuals should be put to death.  Himes finally explains exactly WHY the use and cultivation of marijuana should be prohibited here.  His proximity to God lends credibility and relevance to the pastor’s testimony.

The bigoted legislators and self-righteous individuals mentioned above do not represent the Montana in which I have spent my entire life and if they are considered moral creatures, I’m content being lumped in with the “scourge”.

Dear Mr Zabawa or Milburn, Essmann, Howard, Knox, and company


UPDATE: Zabawa’s testimony on SB 423 today can be viewed here. This morning another of our bloggers received a Facebook friend request from “Mercedes Benz- Billings”, an auto dealership in part owned by one of our favorite prohibitionists, Brother Steve Zabawa.  A source within one of Zabawa’s businesses confirmed that the Facebook page indeed belonged to Zabawa so she sent a…. factually scathing message in response to the request.  After I posted her words to Zabawa on our blog’s Facebook page earlier today, she posted a comment clarifying the post.  She said that she’d received a polite response from the dealership, from a “product specialist” who claimed to monitor the page.  Although making it clear he understood his employer’s motivations and respected his right to express his opinions, he assured her that not everyone within the dealership was aligned with Zabawa’s agenda.  Because the friend request apparently did not originate with Steve Zabawa, I pondered whether or not he’d ever see her words.  After much (not really) thought, in the case that Zabawa was indeed shielded from the criticism, I took the liberty of posting it here,  utilizing , in vain, our public forum in hopes that Zabawa would notice, take heed, and engage his opponents in a productive discussion.  While the letter was written to Zabawa, the intended target could have been nearly any Republican currently serving in our state legislature as well.  I challenge any puritanical republican to address the concerns mentioned in the following letter:


Nicole French April 6 at 2:08pm
Dear Mr Zabawa, 

Considering your opposition to personal liberties, obsession with control and devotion to driving the legislative process in the opposite direction voters desire, I am puzzled by your motives in requesting my friendship.

It appears a vast majority of your Facebook friends are politically active Republicans, so initially I assumed you were innocently seeking more local political connections, but I suspect your request isn’t so innocent. Do your liberty-minded Republican friends support your determined effort to not only overturn legislation created and approved by our state’s voters, but force seriously ill Montanans to make the unfathomable choice to either participate in a crime or needlessly suffer from a debilitating condition? You may be surprised.

Whether you are aware or not, I have defended your organization in public forums on countless occasions- primarily on principle as I believe each party involved in a conflict deserves an opportunity to dispel false accusations. Isn’t that odd? Although I do not know you personally and generally am opposed to the sort of licentious behavior of which your establishment is regularly accused, I am a principled and honorable human being, always willing to participate in open and honest discussion- which is where you and I obviously differ.

What I find most astounding about your group’s opposition to the creation of a regulated industry is your continual refusal to participate in any sort of pro-active conflict resolution discussion. Although many consider you and the other group members to be truly moronic, I disagree. Your recurrent fallacious testimony quickly elucidates any possibility of a naive ignorance.

I will overlook your unwillingness to acknowledge science and patient testimonials for a moment to examine political principles. Republicans fight for smaller government, a free market, retaining more of what we make, and especially liberty. Although I’m not a cannabis user, I appreciate the freedom to choose, with my physician, alternative forms of treating illnesses. Our federal government runs Amtrak, the US Postal Service, Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid…. the list of insolvent entities goes on and on. The FDA has approved a litany of drugs that kill Americans on a daily basis, but yet so many are comforted by the federal government’s approval or disapproval of substances. It is astounding that any intelligent American would appreciate federal intervention in any manner beyond the power granted by our Constitution.

Liberty is integral to being an American and especially so to many Montanans. Our voters approved the use of this substance and overturning their wishes is truly reprehensible. If this truly “isn’t what Montanans voted for”, those citizens would place reform or repeal on the ballot. To date, no one has successfully done so, so I adhere to the belief that what we have now, however flawed it may be, is closer to voters’ intentions than an outright repeal.

In testimony of marijuana opponents, I hear of frequent abuses of the current statutes, exploitation of patients in pursuit of profits, use in schools, illegal diversion of medical cannabis, the list is endless. What I fail to understand is why those perpetrators are not as a result, arrested. The industry begged regulation and especially for enforcement. Three previous legislative sessions failed to address the concerns and the “frequent abuses” have apparently gone unpunished. Patients who legitimately, effectively, and safely treat their conditions with cannabis are instead the targets of your mission.

Laws aren’t created to provide a substitute for competent parenting and historically prohibition primarily benefits criminals. Actual drug dealers, the predatory sort, not the state-licensed law-abiding providers you are complaining about today, will return to their profitable businesses- without paying taxes, hiring employees, or adhering to any sort of ethical protocol. The dangers to our communities and kids presented by prescription drug and alcohol abuse far surpass those created by allowing legal medical use of cannabis. For this reason, I’m shocked you would continue this obsession while ignoring the most dire dangers facing our state.

We owe our children more than the false “safety” that destroying an industry may provide. We owe them the truth. The truth is, overturning a citizens initiative is an assault on our Constitution and rights. The topic itself, however discomforting you consider it, should not determine that the right of the people to self-govern is void. Montana’s constitution does not define the right to citizens initiative to be inclusive of only what is palatable to the elected.
Montana voters spoke. The governing body has now decided to use the power of position to arrogate. This is a wrongful use of power and is symbolic of the underlining reason the people’s distrust of all things government has become so palpable.

Perhaps your understanding of the long-term repercussions of such action would require a personal stake in it. For your sake, I truly hope that you and your loved ones are never presented with as dire of consequences as you are seeking for Montana’s infirm.

Upon receiving this message, should you decide to address my concerns, I will accept your offer of friendship. You and I won’t necessarily ever agree on this particular issue, but we likely would on virtually all others. I hope, through not only education but by setting a positive example, that someday the vast conflict surrounding this particular substance is reduced substantially.

Sincerely,
Nicole French

Hurt so Good: Representative and Mrs. Knox, Sanctioning your Suffering


Celebrating Montanans in pain, a Knox family tradition

Representative James Knox and his lovely wife Alicia are pretty excited at the prospect of agony for 30,000 Montana citizens suffering from debilitating diseases.  Rep Knox posted the following on his Facebook recently.

Montana makes history as the first legislative body to repeal the use of marijuana!!!! It requires the Governor not to Veto it but historical still!! Montana, many of us have worked long and hard for this moment. The people have spoken through their support and signatures on the repeal petition, the legislators supported the people. Governor…Please follow through and let the peoples will pass. April 1 at 2:56pm

Knox’s wife, Alicia Ridge Knox seems very excited her husband has assisted in the GOP’s mission to legislate Montana’s morality at the expense of those who will suffer needlessly as a result of his legislation.  Knox’s above plea to Governor Schweitzer drew plenty of comments from his Facebook friends (and enemies), his wife’s benevolent comment appears last in the thread, posted below.

It is one thing to celebrate a bill's success, but this is sick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apparently Knox’s wife stands by her man, supporting her corpulent hubby’s diabolical endeavors, she also inadvertently destroys a couple of the GOP’s arguments in favor of repeal.  First of all, she admitted it is medicine.  Second, she agreed that people need it.  Third, and by far most horrifying  is the realization she just may have hinted at her sexual proclivities.  Alicia Ridge Knox (be sure to add her as a friend) is one who obtains pleasure and sexual gratification from inflicting pain, suffering and humiliation upon others?  Perhaps next session we should propose legislation ensuring those acts, along with the Republican’s most reviled Montana citizens (you know, those terrifying gays with an agenda)  are felonious crimes.

*It should be noted that the couple professes to be Christian. One can only assume that they are proud members of the church of Reverend Harris Himes, who thinks that gay people should be put to death…. among countless other hateful beliefs.

Republican Rick Hill’s Mermaid Mistress: A Sordid Tail


This evening we received the an interesting message via email, posted below.  It appears to be, if nothing else, a sweet compilation of 2012 Montana Gubernatorial candidate Rick Hill’s more lurid accomplishments.    Perhaps the virtuous young lady was only a cocktail waitress and not officially one of the mermaids, we aren’t certain. The lounge’s unique window allows bar patrons to get drunk while lusting over the mermaids swimming seductively….. The image of  the now-elderly adulterer Hill caressing his young mermaid mistress while his wife and small children beg him to return home to his family presents an incredible visual and when Piano Pat Spoonheim is playing show tunes on the lounge’s organ, I’d imagine the temptation is just too great.

While not quite a murder, adultery would hopefully be considered an immoral act by Hill’s own party.   You know, the Republican party that thinks being gay should remain a felony, in spite of  being ruled unconstitutional and that using cannabis medically is unethical because the nanny federal government says so.  Unfaithful spouses are generally dishonest and self-centered, but sex with a young, wet mermaid is no doubt tempting.

Will Montana’s morality police accept such a flawed Republican candidate? It seems many already decided not only to accept Hill, but to support him financially as well.   Medical use of marijuana is far too immoral for the 2011 state legislature, but banging a mermaid at the Sip N Dip is not an issue.  Senator Taylor Brown, his wife and others in his family maxed out their contributions to Hill. Senator Bruce Tutvedt also supports Rick Hill, proving he picks his nose better than his candidates. Other notable members of Montana’s legislature supporting Rick Hill include  Mormon Liz Bangerter,   Walt McNutt, Jim Shockley, Jon Sonju, Don Steinbeisser, and others.  Want to see all of the lobbyists and hypocritical family values promoting Hill supporters?  Check it out here, but a bath may be required afterwards.

So who is behind the anti-Rick Hill email?  The Scribd page hosting each of the articles posted is:

nancy_davis_53

Nancy Davis has 2 followers so far- Jeff Bolstad and 2012 Republican Gubernatorial hopeful Ken Miller.  I’m sure that is just a coincidence though.

Dear Socially Conservative voter:
We are writing to apprise you of something very unfortunate that is happening in Helena.  A republican congressman from the 1990s, Rick Hill, who left office under the cloud of an extramarital affair,  is trying to buy himself the GOP nomination for governor.
Rick Hill cannot win the governor’s race. Why? Because he has had too many women in his life. While he was married with little children, he carried on regular sex with a cocktail waitress at the Sip and Dip Lounge in Great Falls. (Sip and Dip is a bar similar to “Hooters,” because waitresses wear bikinis and mermaid outfits to seduce the customers.). And he even carried on his relationship on one occasion in front of the children, according to the Billings Gazette and other major newspapers (the articles are attached to this e-mail).
These revelations–compounded by the fact that Hill enjoyed touting his “family values”– caused Mr. Hill to make a hasty departure from Congress.
Also, Hill’s first wife, who he emotionally abused and who he divorced in an ugly 8-year long custody battle, told the press that on one occasion, when he hadn’t been home in weeks to see the kids, she brought her kids to the bar where he was enjoying the company of his mistress. They begged him to come home, but he said no to his family. This is not a conservative. And this is a dead duck, politically.
We believe a Republican Primary is for nominating a candidate who  EMBODIES CONSERVATIVE SOCIAL VALUES, like family and faith. We cannot allow a person with “Bill Clinton values” to be a nominee for the Republican Party for Governor.
Please also remember that the Democrats–and their liberal big-mouth Governor and their environmentalist Attorney General (who will be the Democrat nominee for Governor)–are all praying that Rick Hill is the Republican nominee.  With his womanizing past, they know he is easy prey.
Let’s not give them what they want. Do Not Compromise on the principles that unite us: conservative values, family values, and candidates who actuallly practice them. And shame on the liberal republican establishment in Helena who are giving Rick Hill money and secretly trying to seal-up the nomination for him.
We have attached links to several newspaper articles for your review.  Please read them and be informed.
Thank You,
Montana Conservative Families

Yet another GOP hypocrite lurking in legislature


Zealous advocates of our clients? REALLY?

There seems to be a prevailing theme in the Republicans seeking a full repeal of Montana’s medical marijuana law which was approved by voters in 2004.  Many of the vocal repeal proponents have  made sizable, often exorbitant profits from fledgling cannabis entrepreneurs.  Representative James Knox and Mormon Steve Zabawa,  are high-ranking members of the MONTaliban, an oppressive prohibition  organization  exploiting religious interests in efforts to affect public policy are two of Montana’s most prominent members.  Zabawa attempted to take advantage of an naive and unsuspecting cannabis provider, demanding a percentage of profits in addition to monthly lease payments on property. Knox offered to virtually give away web services to his friend, a marijuana caregiver.  In my experience, $600 for creating a website using a wordpress template is a high price, certainly not a discount, “virtually giving it away”.

Meet Senator Art Wittich, owner of  Wittich Law Firm, which boasts the description “zealous advocates on behalf of our clients”. You may recall him unsuccessfully representing game farm owners against I-143, a citizens initiative banning “pet hunting”.  Wittich is one of the Tea party’s finest, scoring  a perfect rating on the prestigious”Tea Party Questionaire” .  The Tea party doesn’t put a very high value on character, it would appear.  After all, one of the Tea party’s darlings, Representative James Knox has been embroiled in scandal since taking office, as employees and business contacts accuse him of pervasive shady business practices.  Senator Wittich, however; may surpass even Rep Knox’s unethical behavior.  In Thursday’s Senate floor session, a client of Wittich Law firm, A Kinder Caregiver was shocked and hurt hearing Wittich’s testimony favoring repeal.  For more than two years, the medical cannabis business spent a considerable amount of money with Wittich’s law firm, which assisted in providing guidance to ensure compliance with the  I-148, the often vague statute governing Montana’s medical cannabis laws.  A Kinder Caregiver was willing to invest substantial financial resources to retain adequate counsel  in efforts to adhere to state laws so one can only imagine what the business endured, watching their state senator and owner of the firm providing their legal services testify in support of legislation that would not only destroy, but abolish entirely their  industry.  A vote to destroy an important industry in Wittich’s home district indicates several potential character flaws considering the basic expectation that an attorney typically protects the client’s best interests, but to voluntarily provide factually questionable yet persuasive testimony is almost unconscionable.  Wittich could have bridged the vast gap between the patient-driven industry and the pervasive ignorance exemplified by the right-wing in Montana’s legislature.  Even more disturbing was the Senator’s decision to incorporate his own status as a cancer survivor into his arguments in favor of eliminating safe access to cannabis for approximately 30,000 Montana citizens.

A Kinder Caregiver, with discreet locations in three Montana cities, acted responsibly in retaining legal counsel to ensure compliance with the initiative.  After working together for more than two years, they discovered in grand fashion, that the entity providing legal protection had more loyalty to Republican party leadership than to his constituents and clients.  While voting for repeal would have likely damaged the business’s relationship with the firm, Wittich’s testimony and exploitation of his personal health history ensured it.  The firm was fired immediately after the Senate hearing, which approved the revocation of Montana patients’ rights to safely access cannabis, in direct conflict with the desires of Montana’s citizens, as 62% approved the compassionate initiative .

Truth is Treason in the Empire of Lies UPDATED with VIDEO


I am well aware that no politician is likely to ever please me on every issue at every opportunity, but I take no pleasure in this post.  I never dreamed that Senator Chas Vincent, R- Libby, would deviate from intentions expressed in public statements, he simply doesn’t strike me as the type.  Maybe i simply set the bar too high after hearing he leans libertarian, expecting someone with the integrity and consistency of Dr Ron Paul, which isn’t quite fair.  To put it bluntly, I’m very disappointed, not only in Senator Vincent, but in most of our legislature and especially the Republican Party.  In a few short months, we’ve abandoned all campaign promises of smaller government and more freedom in exchange for an agenda of power and control.

Since the session began, I’ve watched the GOP work hard so gay people are considered just a little less than human by utilizing hateful bigoted people who under the God- umbrella can get away with statements about putting them to death simply to ensure we can still retain the unconstitutional laws declaring their behavior felonious.  Instead of working with patients, growers and  physicians, the GOP went in their own direction, choosing arbitrary numbers as limits, regulating not only all access, but also supply and demand of a medicine in our new marijuana socialism game.  Instead of fixing a law to benefit patients and business, we wasted time on ridiculous legislation to force the US to leave the United Nations and to return to the gold standard, but now it is clear that the GOP is entirely heartless.  Drunk on our own power, seeking more control and regulation, we are a party I don’t even recognize.  I commend Sen Murphy for his courageous stand in opposition to the Republicans in the legislature and I must admit I was impressed by the testimony of Sen. Wanzenried and Sen Gillan, who of course are democrats.

Don’t get me started on dishonesty.  Montana’s legislators are well aware that hearings are live streamed and later available in the archives- so one would think they’d pay greater detail to honesty while testifying in legislative hearings. They know very well that someone could easily use their words against them.  According to the Billings Gazette:

Sen. Chas Vincent, R-Libby, who previously opposed the repeal bill and helped write the repeal-and-overhaul bill, said he felt compelled to vote for the repeal after what happened Wednesday.

He talked about drug abuse in schools and contended that organized crime is involved in medical marijuana here.

“I have no choice,” he said. “I did all that I could. I’d encourage everyone in my caucus and the few of you that are not satisfied with the status quo to give (HB161) the green light.”

Poor Senator Vincent appeared somewhat reluctant,  frustrated and at times almost desperate as he lamented the wasted time spent on Essmann’s reform legislation as well as the Senate game-playing.  He also said:

“Talk about political suicide, for crying out loud,” he said. “My county didn’t even vote for medical marijuana. It went down in my county. I’m in the minority in my caucus, and I’m going against my base for what I believe to be a principled decision.” VIDEO here

When  he informed us that his district, SD1 had rejected I-148 – voting against it in 2004,  I sincerely sympathized with his position in the lonely minority and almost felt guilty about it.  His vote did disappoint me but I found it difficult to remain angry at him because this was, after all; his job, doing the best by his constituents, who apparently weren’t supportive of our cause.  I couldn’t expect much more from him.

My brain doesn’t take many breaks.  I truly wasn’t aware of SD1′s opposition of  Initiative 148 until Vincent’s testimony, so I decided to determine just how many others I wasn’t aware of.  The following is a screenshot from 2004′s elections with final tallies on I-148 for Vincent’s district, Lincoln County.

Clearly, Lincoln County did NOT reject I-148. 61% approved the measure.

This sounds like a completely different Senator Vincent than the one portrayed here, in an article titled “Republican State Senator Stands Out in the Pack, Opposes Repeal of Medical Marijuana“.  Also in the article:

“I am not going to support the repeal,” said Republican Sen. Chas Vincent, a 33-year-old former logger who holds a key vote in the judiciary committee. “I believe that cannabis has real, beneficial impacts to those who need to use it for medicine.”

I’m going to give Vincent the benefit of the doubt about his knowledge of his senate district’s position of  I- 148 in 2004, but just this once.  Perhaps he was nervous or is clueless about his district.  Surely the guilt involved with abandoning principles to appease party leadership making the best decision for his constituents wouldn’t inspire lies  in effort to convince us of his sincerity, right?  Because Vincent’s most compelling argument for me was the one that we now know isn’t true, I am no longer willing to forgive his vote.   I have a  difficult time believing that any member of this particular session’s leadership is capable of convincing a principled senator that the courageous vote is the one with the rest of the party.  Where is that libertarian streak we keep hearing about?  I know that Ron Paul without a doubt wouldn’t have voted to repeal Montana’s medical marijuana law.

Dramatic Senate Standoff Provides Beacon of Hope to Drug Dealers Across the Nation


Safe Community, Safe Kids asked Montana "who will stand up for your kids?" I hope they enjoy their answer.

Drug dealers, cartels and gangs of organized criminals are salivating at the employment opportunities being created in Montana by Republicans in the legislature.  Other criminal drug enterprises are excited at the prospects of adding marijuana back into their line-ups of available illegal substances.  The prohibition party apparently believes  advancing their moral agenda under the guise of making our community and kids safer is worth actually risking our state’s safety and our kid’s futures by advancing legislation which unintentionally but effectively stimulates illegal drug activity in Montana.  Since Montana allowed the medical use of cannabis, the state has enjoyed continually improving crime rates.  Will Montana’s crime rates skyrocket after elected leaders legislatively subsidize the criminal narcotics element?

A number of factors contributed to a dramatic and surprising outcome of Sen. Jeff Essmann’s socialistic (government-controlled access, supply and demand) SB 423 reading  in the Montana Senate,  which in a shocking move, instantly revived dying HB 161, a full repeal of Montana’s medical marijuana law passed in 2004 by citizen’s initiative.  Republican Senate  leadership apparently misjudged or overlooked Wednesday’s deadline for SB 423 to proceed to the House.  In order to accommodate the looming deadline, a rules suspension was required to allow the bill to be heard and voted upon twice in one day. The Senate GOP majority was on first attempt unable to obtain the required 2/3 majority votes necessary to suspend the rules. After the initial rules suspension vote failed, Sen. Brenden of Scobey retaliated, making a successful blast motion sending Rep Milburn’s repeal legislation, HB 161, which had stalled after a deadlock in the Senate Judiciary Committee, to the Senate floor for full debate.  Disappointed at unfruitful attempts to cash in some bargaining chips in exchange for support, Democrats persevered, undaunted even after Republicans resurrected HB 161, in obvious attempt to intimidate dissenting senators in hopes of threatening gently persuading them. The GOP again failed to produce the necessary votes.

The blame for the likely demise of medical marijuana reform legislation, according to many Republicans rests  squarely on the left- Governor Schweitzer’s office in particular.  Senate majority leader Jeff Essmann, who sponsored the “reform” bill in question was quick to criticize the governor’s office for utilizing the entire 6 days allowed by rules to prepare a fiscal note detailing the financial impact of the legislation.  The bill’s fiscal note was only available Wednesday morning which didn’t allow enough time for separate votes on the legislation, according to Senator Essmann.  Fortunately for the Republicans, the bill still has the ability to proceed to the House- but only if the house too is willing to approve a suspension of the rules, also requiring a 2/3  majority vote.  In the event that the House fails to garner the necessary numbers, the reform bill is considered dead.  The House’s  repeal-friendly political climate suggests a  house-approved rules suspension may be unlikely, although not entirely impossible.

Montana’s left wing, proactively seeking a workable solution made numerous attempts at compromise with Republicans to no avail- an increasingly common occurrence this session. Some Democrats hoped to exchange rules suspension votes for Republican support of unrelated legislation such as the bonding bill but Republicans refused to cooperate. Still 0ther Democrat senators claimed their votes against rules suspension were due to Republicans killing a majority of  the thoughtful amendments to SB 423 sponsored by Democrats.  Without the amendments, the legislation was considered by many, a repeal bill masquerading as reform. The legislation unamended, also  lacked the support of patients and facility owners alike.   Naturally, Republicans have responded to charges of being uncooperative with Democrat legislators by leveling their own at the Democrat legislators.  While I’m inclined to support Republicans in most right-left battles, Republicans in this case appear to be drunk on power and for reasons unknown,  determined to eliminate any chance at their own success in 2012 elections.   Sanity is currently a questionable diagnosis for this party so I’m reluctant to buy their stories.  This time the Democrats seem more credible- even if only by default- as Republicans have displayed such a  compelling propensity for dishonesty this session.

The  high-drama political spectacle orchestrated by Senate Republicans today was a gift to illegal drug dealers and associated organized criminals who now can  optimistic about their realistic chances of soon controlling the market, supply, and prices of marijuana in Montana.  Montana’s medical cannabis industry has driven illegal marijuana dealers out of the state.  Competing with legitimate state-licensed facilities wasn’t attractive to the black market criminals who watched prices plummet after card-holding customers began utilizing licensed caregivers.  Most marijuana currently sells for around half the price it did prior to enacting Montana’s medical cannabis law which was passed in 2004.  Historically, prohibition is beneficial for gangs and organized criminals.  Quality always suffers and prices increase.

Essmann frequently mentions”This isn’t what Montanans voted for”  although I’m certain he doesn’t know either.  I doubt Montanans would in good conscience support legislation  for the “greater good” that would actually cause further degradation of our society, but because repeal would require overturning an initiative passed by Montana citizens anyway, they should have an opportunity,  just in case Essmann doesn’t  actually know what we thought we were voting for.

Considering the widespread use of marijuana, a safe and effective substance, is likely to continue regardless of legislation passed in Montana, one wonders why the GOP would destroy an entire industry, thus ensuring virtually associated money ends up smuggled in backpacks to northern California instead of being spent in Montana. Tough choices, legislators:  Contribute to our own state’s depressed economy or fund drug dealing  California criminals? Thousands of Montanans employed by the medical cannabis industry or thousands of Montanans drawing unemployment benefits draining resources?  Legitimately ill patients obtaining medicine in a safe, clean and professional atmosphere or patients self-medicating with marijuana they acquired in a dark alley via terrifying strangers while risking their freedom to relieve their pain? The choice is clear but unfortunately your legislators aren’t listening.

Spoiled Speaker Milburn Punishes Detractors, Montanans Suffer


Mike Milburn, Montana’s Republican Speaker of the House is reportedly angry with the Senate Judiciary Committee for killing his precious little bill, HB161 and has been clearly seeking retribution in a rather juvenile manner.

Friday morning, as many are aware, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Jeff Essmann’s anti-free market bill to destroy the medical cannabis industry and significantly increase the healthcare costs and risks of thousands of Montanans, in part by forcing patients to obtain expensive, frequent and unnecessary MRI and CT tests.  Generally, hearings on medical marijuana are held in rooms on the first floor of the Capitol because it is significantly easier patients with debilitating medical conditions to access the room and many handicapped people typically testify at the hearings on this issue and accessing the third floor of the Capitol is rather difficult for many of them.  These hearings have historically attracted hundreds of patients who want their voice heard and the first floor is better suited for an overflow crowd.

Some may have noticed that Friday’s hearing was on the 3rd floor, in the old Supreme Court Chambers though.  Why? Milburn was asked if he would switch his house committee out of a first floor room to accommodate the hearing on Essmann’s draconian SB423.  Milburn responded that he’d absolutely not be accommodating any of the Senate Judiciary hearings because they killed his bill that would repeal Montana’s citizen’s initiative allowing the medical use of cannabis.  One wonders how this issue could be so important to Milburn that he is willing to partake in such childish behavior, perhaps he has some sort of undisclosed financial interest.

Sadly, this sort of petty behavior has become rather common at the legislature- Republicans from the House and Senate regularly poke each other on random issues, according to our source.  Apparently, the House is angry that the Senate is killing some of the more extreme (and ridiculous) bills so the House seeks revenge by playing petty games and punishing patients in the process.  The house has also killed some legislation Senate legislation that Republicans would, and should, typically support.  Where are those compassionate conservatives we’ve heard about?  Surely not in Montana.
Why are our elected officials playing playground games on our dime? This is abhorrent behavior and the Republican legislative leadership should be absolutely ashamed. Unfortunately it appears that our myopic GOP legislators feel they are beyond reproach as they blindly execute their  “morally-superior” agenda, hopefully also executing their political futures in the process.
Montana deserves better leadership and legislation based in facts, not dramatizations or ignorant, maniacal talking points.   Several US government health and cancer agencies have recently admitted marijuana is an effective medication for cancer and other debilitating diseases- whether you agree or not, these are real Montanans with legitimate medical conditions- not some faceless crowd of stoned hippies.  The Montana voters decided, when legislators weren’t willing, to approve the medical use of cannabis, abolishing or severely restricting the industry should be a decision only voters make.  Why should we allow the same people who were too lazy to address the issue in the past to now create legislation to regulate this industry after they’ve repeatedly refused education and clearly remain ignorant?

Our Sincere Thanks to Montana Senate President Peterson


 

Yet another dangerous medical marijuana patient

 

 

Dear Montana Senate President Peterson,

I’m writing this letter to express my sincere gratitude for your attention to your own public safety at the Capitol today.  With the vast number of  dangerous federal criminals marijuana addicts wheeling or limping running around , I can imagine you were all very frightened as the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Essmann’s proposed legislation to essentially eliminate the very industry that helps over 30,000 patients potheads alleviate symptoms of debilitating diseases.

Let us hope pray that there weren’t any violent crimes that occurred away from the Capitol today as it certainly appeared that every law enforcement officer in the entire state of Montana was present in the Capitol to protect our nannies legislators.    On second thought, I suppose this waste necessary taxpayer-funded expenditure was justified because the legislature expected all of those handicapped bloodthirsty patients criminals to be present for the hearing.

It is really refreshing to see how important you think you are, as a legislative body, that your minions can continue to deceive, cheat and steal from legitimate Montana voters who approved an initiative to allow the medical use of cannabis in 2004.  Ironically, drug dealers across the state are virtually salivating at the prospect of your success.  They are now counting the days until they can add marijuana back into their line-up of illegal substances to sell Montana’s citizens.  You see, since Montana’s medical marijuana industry was created (in response to the legislature’s laziness)  malicious people (think Mexican border type perhaps) controlled Montana’s marijuana supply.  Because of the industry’s devotion to quality control and fair prices, the black market dealers have either moved east to another state or stopped selling marijuana in favor of higher- profiting drugs like methamphetamine, cocaine, or prescription painkillers.  Thanks to the GOP-led legislature, it appears they will be able to come home!

Thanks again for keeping our state safe, anyone can see that the increased number of canes, walkers, and wheelchairs could easily turn into malicious pandemonium so I will give you a pass on this crucial use of our tax dollars.   Now, the $700+ we pay you all monthly for healthcare….. that is another story.