A Montana Medical Cannabis Patient’s Introductory Guide to the Black Market

Montana is, as of June 1, 2011; issuing medical marijuana patient cards and renewals under emergency rules written by the DPHHS until July 1 when new regulations under SB 423 take effect. A troubling muddle of statements, clarifications, and retractions, Montana’s medical cannabis program is as confusing as ever and patients are looking for answers. Barring successful legal intervention prior to the new law’s inception, all patients will lose their current caregiver.  The patients who aren’t currently growing cannabis (I-148 allowed patients to grow their own in addition to selecting a caregiver to grow 6 plants on the patient’s behalf) will be forced to suffer needlessly until they either locate a altruistic nanny-approved grower (growers cannot be paid, all product is free) approved by the state or successfully complete the growth cycle of the plant (up to 6 months).

As transparency in the cannabis trade ends, illegal drug dealers across the state are expected to benefit from the new regulations. They are silently celebrating, raising prices, and preparing to retrieve the market share previously lost to the state’s legal medical cannabis industry. Many patients will inevitably turn to this segment of the population out of desperation and necessity.  Some already have after federal agencies began raiding Montana caregivers March 14, 2011. Stoners often find that locating a reliable and trustworthy black market purveyor of illegal substances is challenging so imagine the difficulty for Montana’s average stage IV elderly cancer patient.  Doing business with someone who operates in the illicit underworld presents many challenges which inspire me to offer the advice listed below. Note: Authorities in Montana have most likely provided confidential patient records/information to federal agencies.  At the very least, the state has failed to protect patients when federal agents have seized such records.  The federal government has been very inconsistent regarding marijuana policy and fewer patients are willing to expose themselves to the increased risk involved with becoming a cardholder. 

  • Contribute to MTCIA.  Hopefully someday, as a result of the group’s work, you won’t be forced to conduct clandestine transactions in dark alleys.  Considering you are suffering from a debilitating disease, you may be dead by that time, unfortunately.
  • Be discrete. If you absolutely must use the telephone, always operate on the assumption that it is tapped.  Don’t text or leave incriminating voice mail messages and don’t save the dealer’s number in your phone as “weed boy”.  If you must include “weed boy” in your contact list, consider using a legislator’s phone number for that contact.
  • Be polite.  Don’t complain about the price, you aren’t buying a used car. Blame prohibition, Montana’s 62nd legislature, or specifically, Senator Jeff Essmann for inflated prices.  Don’t be demanding.  Although Montana’s marijuana dealers aren’t typically murderous thugs, there are always exceptions and it is in your best interest to be friendly.
  •  Transactions require cash unless alternate arrangements have been made. Have exact change. No money back guarantees, no returns.  Trading for sex isn’t typical in the marijuana world, contrary to the testimony of Montana’s legislators.  When you prostitute yourself for cannabis, you are simply a slut.  Period.
  •  If you find a prompt, accommodating dealer who provides a good quality product at an acceptable price, consider yourself fortunate.  Tipping isn’t customary nor is it expected although it could definitely contribute to a copacetic (for some reason many dealers use that word) relationship with your new friend.
  • Lower your expectations.  Your experience will be nothing like a visit to your old dispensary.  Your dealer will probably not be punctual, so be patient. You will have fewer, if any; strain choices.
  • You may want to invest in a digital scale.  Ideally, the dealer will weigh the quantity in your presence, but if nothing else, weigh it when you get home.
  • If you are desperate, one-time transaction drug dealers can be located at jam band (Widespread Panic, The Allman Brothers, etc) shows and festivals.  Vendors often sell delicious medibles (cannabis cheesecake, anyone?) in addition to medicine and cool stoner accessories.  Arrive early (and I’m talking HOURS early) to hang out on the lot prior to the event.  Listen for  the words “nuggets”, “kind bud” , “phatty nugs”, “headies”, etc.  This may be difficult if you are elderly or disabled due to your disease.  Perhaps you could ask a legislator to assist, if this is the case.
  • Although possession of larger quantities carries the risk of higher penalties, the fewer transactions you have with a dealer, the better. Except in cases like this.  Often the price is significantly lower in bulk as well.  Montana’s cartel members who have amassed a surplus choose to bury it in a van in their backyard.
  • Don’t deal with anyone under 18.  Ever. No matter what he/she is willing to do for just a taste of your medicine.

This is by no means a comprehensive or exhaustive list and should not be considered an endorsement of illegal activity. 

Shrugging off the Tea Party Takeover of Montana’s Republican Party

Apparently the  tea people takeover of the Yellowstone Central Committee wasn’t quite enough for the Queen of the Tea People, Jennifer Olsen, the Ken Miller for Governor Campaign Facebook Administrator and founder of Montana Shrugged, Tea Party Patriots.  Check out a recent post from Ms. Olsen:

VOTE for me! for vice-chair of the state republican central committee in June!
So…..I have decided to run for vice-chair of the state republican central committee. I have a lot of ideas that can help unify conservative voters across the state of Montana and I would appreciate your vote at the convention in Butte in June…
So…..I have decided to run for vice-chair of the state republican central committee. I have a lot of ideas that can help unify conservative voters across the state of Montana and I would appreciate your vote at the convention in Butte in June. As one told me, the job is what you make of it, and I’d like to see the Republican party of Montana do BIG things. Including of course, winning every seat up in 2012. Who’s with me?Working on my slogan…..but it’ll be good!  
No matter what my slogan…..I want to win in 2012!  Not just for me but for the future of our state…..and our country.  
You can count on me to be a ‘doer’.  I would appreciate your vote in June!


Remember this though?  Eric Olsen, In February of this year, co-founder of Montana Shrugged and Jennifer’s father; said “We are equal opportunity haters.  We don’t like Republicans, we don’t like Democrats.  We are Americans working on American issues.” It does certainly seem odd that nearly every core member of Montana Shrugged is now an officer in the Yellowstone County Republican Central Committee, but perhaps it is only a coincidence. Always controversial, the group seems thrives on publicity, whether positive or not.
Although Ms Olsen sends out mass emails from Montana Shrugged, she also claims that her personal opinions aren’t necessarily those of Montana Shrugged’s. Considering she is a co-founder of the organization, one may assume she aligns herself with the same values, and after all, she was using the organization’s email address, not her personal one.   A complaint filed against the group for their partisan campaign and election activities was dismissed late last year due primarily to media exceptions in Montana law.  The Office of Political Practices is keeping a close eye on the group, according to sources.
Many of Montana’s most recent session’s freshman lawmakers are sympathetic to the tea people’s cause and although they consider this year’s session to be a resounding success, some of their own party disagree.
“You are scaring the you-know-what out of them with this kind of talk,” veteran Republican lawmaker Walt McNutt said. “This needs to stop and stop now. Stop scaring our constituents and stop letting us look like a bunch of buffoons.”
It is also worth noting that approval ratings of the 2011 legislative session hovered below the 15% mark, so legislators who consider it a success were apparently using completely different criteria than mainstream Montana.   Perhaps accomplishing thoughtful draconian marijuana reform repeal contributed to the legislature’s confidence in themselves. After all, there was Senate Majority Leader Jeff Essmann’s strange speech at Yellowstone County’s Lincoln Reagan dinner….  after an extensive introduction befitting of a king, the arrogant and aloof Essmann read a letter from a medical marijuana patient who essentially told Essmann that the senator had failed Montanans and succeeded only in destroying an industry.  Essmann’s response, naturally; was “Mission Accomplished”.  Evidently, job killing is now a tea people-approved activity.
Good luck to Jennifer Olsen in her quest to take over the Montana GOP. Perhaps readers would like to suggest some pithy campaign slogans for Ms. Olsen.  Should you require some inspiration, I’ve included a few screenshots from her freedom-loving Facebook account.
Should the screenshots not provide quite enough material to choose from, an automated slogan generator is located here.

The Comforting Embrace of the Government Nanny

 Montana’s 62nd legislature, led by a healthy Republican majority, sought repeatedly to overturn citizens initiatives and impose new moralistic standards upon its citizens.  As a result, the hypocritical right; who profess a dedication to smaller, more localized government and less intrusion, is being criticized state-wide by its own members. The left generally looks to the government to solve whatever problems we face but most Montanans are already aware that the government’s solutions are generally more destructive than than any problems presented to us. What ever happened to this? Montana is widely known for its libertarian bend and traditionally has had no problem in the past saying no to the federal government.  Real ID, wolves, firearms…. we generally prefer to rule ourselves.

Forget political ideology, Montanans should be dropping labels and stereotypes and embracing each other in the battle our own federal government is waging against us. Instead we are divided, selectively enforcing components of the constitution to meet political needs.

Gonzales v. Raich, the Tenth Amendment, and Controlled Substances Act

Gonzales v Raich essentially ruled that even intra-state marijuana activity was subject to federal jurisdiction via the Commerce Clause. Federal intervention falls under the category of “powers delegated to the United States by the Constitution” (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3).

While condemning Republicans for their anti-liberty actions regarding Montana’s medical marijuana industry, I’ve noticed frightening inconsistencies in both sides of the political spectrum.  With great frequency I wonder how the left is able to justify their support of national healthcare reform (Obamacare) considering the very decision- Gonzales v. Raich -that made such a mandate possible is also utilized in federal intervention in medical marijuana states.  On the other hand, many conservatives advocated the federal government’s limitless reading of the commerce clause to fight the war on drugs, but now denounce the use of such power to enforce Obamacare…. selective application.

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.

The Constitution provides that the powers of the federal government are limited and specifically defined. Because the Constitution did not give Congress the authority to regulate alcohol, prohibition required a constitutional amendment.  If we are taking a principled stand on limiting the scope of the federal government, we need to do so consistently.  Medical marijuana or socialized medicine, we need to ask ourselves whether allowing the federal government to regulate anything and everything is acceptable to us.  The Commerce Clause is a double-edged sword.

How many Republicans would be willing to enforce the Tenth Amendment when the issue is marijuana? How do Democrats justify involving the federal government in healthcare but not in regulating cannabis?


New tax mandates and penalties included in Obamacare will cause the greatest expansion of the Internal Revenue Service since World War II, as 16,500 agents will be hired to enforce the law.  The IRS is also harassing medical marijuana dispensaries.  According to Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code, no deductions or credits can be claimed by businesses “trafficking in controlled substances”. So, medical marijuana dispensaries across the state are being audited and disallowed all  business deductions (e.g., buying marijuana, hiring staff, paying for office space, etc.), essentially taxing businesses out of existence.  Using the IRS to enforce health care reform sounds ridiculous, nearly as crazy as involving federal agencies like the EPA, ICE, DHS, or OSHA in medical marijuana raids.

The Food and Drug Administration wants to hold your hand as well, they essentially believe in no health freedom at all. From the FDA in a dismissal notice filed in Iowa by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund:

“There is no ‘deeply rooted’ historical tradition of unfettered access to foods of all kinds.”

“Plaintiffs’ assertion of a ‘fundamental right to their own bodily and physical health, which includes what foods they do and do not choose to consume for themselves and their families’ is similarly unavailing because plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish.”

The FDA believes that it is the only entity granted the authority to decide for you what you are able to eat and drink. The government nanny, in other words, may override your food decisions and deny you free access to the foods and beverages you desire.  This is of course, the same entity that gave us Thalidomide, Vioxx, Phen-fen, and a host of other unsafe pharmaceuticals that were eventually pulled from the market after killing and maiming countless Americans.  Naturally, the FDA has also “definitively established” that marijuana has no medical use or value.

Under the guise of public safety, our populace has been conditioned to believe, despite the overwhelming oppositional evidence, that our government is acting in the name of public safety.  Bans on smoking, including toys with children’s high calorie meals, circumcision, salt, and cell phone use while driving, as well as laws requiring seat belt use can all be easily justified by the sheep.  In reality, they are all affronts to liberty.  Adults should be able to make their own choices, free of government instruction or guidance.   Sure, we all want affordable healthcare- but don’t tell me the federal government has a right to force us all to purchase a product while you claim they have no right to regulate our use of banned substances.

This isn’t about Republicans, it isn’t about Democrats. This isn’t about health care or medical cannabis, this is about liberty.  This is our future and we can’t have it both ways.  We need to forget partisan politics and defend the constitution.  Where is the Tea party now?

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.

Montana’s Reefer Sadness

Montana’s 62nd Legislative session provided an emotional rollercoaster for Montana’s medical cannabis patients as well as those employed in the industry formed around patients’ needs.  After enduring months of being publicly labeled a “scourge”, “cartel”, and a “joke” by newly elected tea people-endorsed Republicans,  those involved with medical cannabis in Montana finally received the answer they’d been waiting for.  Unfortunately for them,  this answer was not the answer to their prayers.  Governor Schweitzer briefly explains his cannabis conundrum here.   While also critical of the legislature, Schweitzer explains somewhat effectively his reasoning for allowing SB 423 to become law.  The legislation, sponsored by Sen Jeff Essmann of Billings, was amended countless times and has been criticized heavily from all sides of the aisle.  The prohibitionists didn’t believe it was strict enough and the patients and growers knew it was a highly regressive and repressive action, they called it the “black market” bill.

I’ve been highly pessimistic about the direction of our legislature since shortly after elections last November. After listening to campaign promises from candidates in which they vowed to create jobs and reassured us that social reforms were not a priority, it was disappointing to realize that their actions did not remotely resemble their vows.  It was clear from the moment they were elected that they’d stop at nothing less than a full-out destruction of Montana’s medical cannabis industry.  They refused to acknowledge science, refused to educate themselves about the substance, and just did whatever they damn well pleased.  The self-righteous legislators utilized faux tears, bully tactics, inflammatory rhetoric and blatant lies in their diabolical quest to condemn a safe and effective treatment option because it didn’t quite fit into their misguided “moral” agenda.

Governor Schweitzer was the last hope for patients and growers and now that we are all aware the Governor has no plans to veto the legislation, even that hope is gone.  Various rumors are circulating about the governor’s decision. One of them alleges Schweitzer is bowing to federal pressure.  Such pressure didn’t seem to influence his decisions on how to handle wolves, Real ID, or other federal muscle-flexing  occasions.  Some believe he plans to run for Rehberg’s empty house seat in 2012 and that his decision was made solely to protect his political future.  Although I suspect Schweitzer’s decision was primarily to benefit himself, I must also admit thathe did try.  Negotiating with the spineless yet puritanical leadership in our current legislature is pointless. In addition to that, if he had vetoed SB 423, every marijuana-involved crime occurring between now and the 2013 legislative session would be blamed on Schweitzer.  Unfair, yes; but this is politics, folks.

I’m not defending the actions of Governor Schweitzer, but he isn’t the villain here either. The GOP waged a war on medical marijuana.  They were more politically astute than their opposition, better organized,  far more vicious- and LOUD.  After all, the tea people were supporting the repeal agenda… In fact, as we are lamenting the inevitable suffering of our patients, loved ones and ourselves, the tea people are gloating.

According to sources, the Montana GOP is also having quite a celebration tonight as they commemorate their mission accomplished.  Making so many Montanans suffer and forcibly causing the unemployment of thousands must really be gratifying work.  To those serving in Montana’s 62nd legislative session, may you reapeth what you sow.

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.

Meet Montana’s “Scourge”

Scourge: 1.  A source of widespread dreadful affliction and devastation such as that caused by pestilence or war.

I witnessed most of the medical marijuana testimony in Helena the past few months, testimony given primarily by Montanans who Rep. Dave Howard has termed the  “scourge”.   While some of the stories are more riveting  than others, there are numerous patients whose testimony is etched into my brain permanently.  It takes a lot to make me cry, but to make me cry in public requires far more.  The stories of several patients accomplished just that.   I don’t know that I could sleep at night if I had sought to deny a suffering human being a safe, effective, and sometimes life-saving medication simply to reinforce my poor parenting skills.   Meet a few members of Montana’s “Scourge”.

“Sometimes the most compassionate answer you can give is NO, you don’t need this.”–Sen Rowlie Hutton (R- Havre). For a clear contrast and a lesson in conservative compassion, Senator Hutton’s closing arguments on HB 161 are below.

 To Sen. Hutton I say, with no compassion whatsoever, that “we don’t need you.”  It seems the majority party in Montana’s legislature needs a reminder that they aren’t playing a game- these are real people’s lives being manipulated by their puritanical policies. 

Scourge:  2. a tormentor, somebody or something that is perceived as an agent of punishment, destruction, or severe criticism.

Who is the real “scourge”?

Divine Legislation: Refuting Science, By God!

Montana Reefer Madness

Republicans across the nation protest government-run healthcare, arguing that politicians and bureaucrats make medical decisions for Americans instead of  physicians yet GOP legislators in Montana consider themselves experts on medical cannabis.  None of the prohibitionist legislators, who are determined to repeal or severely restrict use of medical cannabis, are medical doctors and most have no medical training whatsoever, they are lawyers.  These attorneys moonlight for 90 days every other year serving in Montana’s legislature where they bolster their law practices by actually creating the laws.

We elect these men and women to serve in our legislature, hoping they will represent our best interests. These legislators are often faced with creating laws to regulate controversial industries entirely unfamiliar to them and we trust  lawmakers to obtain adequate education at those times.  We expect that rather than relying on long-held opinions or religious beliefs, lawmakers instead utilize critical thinking.

Critical thinking is:

the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action, the process of purposeful, self-regulatory judgment, which uses reasoned consideration to evidence, context, conceptualizations, methods, and criteria.

Montana’s 2011 Legislative session has thus far been vacant of critical thought on both sides of the political spectrum although primarily in the GOP.  This obstinate refusal to accept science has been prominent in various bills this session, but primarily in those regulating the medical use of cannabis, which Montana’s citizens approved in 2004.

My personal physician, who has more medical training than likely each member of the legislature combined, believes in the medical use of cannabis.  In fact, more than half of his chronic pain patients have eliminated the use of opiate painkillers entirely.  The dangers of opiates (heroin, morphine, oxycontin, etc.) are widely documented and legislators have no doubt heard countless times that not even ONE person has ever died of a cannabis overdose.  Instead of relying on legitimate patient, physician and scientific testimony, Montana’s legislature has instead chosen testimony like the following from Rev. Harris Himes to form puritanical legislation.  Himes also incidentally believes gays should be put to death and that marijuana use if offensive to God.

Senate Majority Leader Jeff Essmann of Billings sponsored  the draconian and socialistic SB 423, which not only destroys the industry through restrictions and financial impositions,  eliminates legal access to cannabis for most patients who now qualify.  Essmann relied on his education, which naturally includes a  J.D., and no doubt his religious beliefs, to determine that under 2,000 of the 30,000 or so medical cannabis patients in Montana actually benefit from using it.  Speaker of the House Milburn, whose HB 161 repealing medical use of marijuana was vetoed yesterday, reluctantly endorsed Essmann’s bill, with restrictions. Milburn isn’t a physician either, naturally. Other prominent members of the GOP God Squad include:

  • Rep Dave Howard (R-Park City) pastor and former FBI agent
  • Rep Cary Smith (R-Billings) and his lovely wife Susan, who created the Safe Community, Safe Kids group devoted to ending legal access to medical cannabis.
  • Rep James Knox (R-Billings) who now attends Harvest Church in Billings, but who cannot recall if he sold drugs in the past.
  • Rep Ken Peterson (R-Billings) LDS faithful who believes our law currently allows us to imprison homosexuals for acting gay in public and their recruiting of non-gays to try a little homosexuality to entice them into immorality.

Ask your legislators to stop ignoring the facts and the wishes of their constituents. Ask them how they can argue that lawyers shouldn’t be making our health decisions when they are doing the very same. Ask them to check their religious beliefs at the door of the Capitol.   If we allow Christian religious zealots to force their personal morality on our citizens, how can we prevent the same sort of actions by Muslims in the future? The suffering as a result of prohibiting marijuana use is the only thing truly immoral about it.

Our legislators are employed by Montana voters.   If you aren’t currently registered to vote, please do so now.  If legislators won’t listen to their constituency, voters will send the ultimate message in 2012.

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

Howls From a Far-Left Vitriolic Hate-Filled Wolf in Conservative Clothing

The recent comment from “Ayn Rand” listed below inspired some  self-reflection and analysis over the weekend.

I have been unable to find one instance where you defended ANY republican and/or conservative. You are a vitriolic, hate filled individual. I can only hope you are comfortable in your wolf’s clothing for you are as far left as any blogger I have read..

With the assistance of liquor, I arrived at few conclusions about my current political ideology- whether or not those conclusions can be labeled right or the left, I’m not certain.  It has been an eye-opening legislative session for me….   I’ve been criticized as a one-issue voter, a traitor to my party, a far-left liberal activist, and a even a pot-zombie (I’m not a cannabis user). I’ve made enemies within the Republican party- one legislator has even threatened legal action and is now broadcasting lies about me via social media outlets.  Shedding light on inconsistency and dishonesty within  local tea party leadership cost me a couple of close friends.  The list goes on and on.  Exposing hypocrisy is a rather thankless and lonely job.

Far left, huh?

My core beliefs are as follows:

  • I believe in limited government, individual freedom and personal responsibility.  I don’t need a nanny.
  • I believe that government has no money nor power not derived from the consent of the people.  Ignoring the vast majority of constituents to pass unpopular legislation does not qualify as consent.
  • I believe individuals should be free to pursue their own lives as long as they respect the rights of others.  If legislators have the right to eat, drink and smoke themselves to death while we pay their health premiums, we certainly should have the right to self-medicate with whatever we please.
  • I support maximum liberty in both fiscal and social matters.
  • It isn’t the government’s job to legislate the moral values or religious beliefs of others. From this day forward, the more prominently a candidate’s religious affiliation is presented, the less likely I will support the candidate.
  • If alcohol prohibition required a constitutional amendment, so should drug prohibition.  The federal government has overstepped its bounds.
  • Laws enacted via ballot initiatives should require the same to be overturned,  to ensure that the will of voters remains intact.

According to the Nolan Chart, I am a libertarian.  I disagree with a few of the libertarian party’s principles but I doubt many of us qualify as cookie cutter party members.  If indeed I am a one-issue voter, that one issue is liberty. I’m a registered Republican who will likely be disgruntled with the left and the right and who can blame me?  Am I a far-left vitriolic hate-filled wolf in conservative clothing? I guess I will allow the reader to make that determination.

“Ayn Rand”, I must ask why you continue to read my posts and comment on them.  Whether you agree with me or not, I am honest and fair.  I post EVERY comment- even the ones written by vitriolic hate-filled individuals. Perhaps instead of labeling me, next time you will instead engage me in a reasonable discussion of the ISSUES and FACTS at hand.  If I bite, I promise to only nibble.

Speaker Milburn: Please Control Representative James Knox

Representative James Knox, Continues to Dig his Hole

I’d sure appreciate if Montana’s Speaker of the House, Mike Milburn, would assert some control over his representatives. I’m tired of defending their actions as well as defending myself FROM them, one in particular.  James Knox sent me an email a few minutes ago.

from Rep. Knox <james@vote4knox.com>
to Nicole French
cc Alicia Knox <alicia@kbscs.com>
date Fri, Apr 8, 2011 at 3:00 PM
subject My lawyer will


I and my wife have printed all conversations and the message you have posted on the web is not in any of our history.  I ask that you email me the date your claim of this valid message else I will be taking legal action for slander against my wife.

Your call, I will.




James Knox, you asked for it so you’ve got it!  The date in question is April 5, 2011.  Would you care to look at the screenshot again?  Although I do actually like your lovely wife Alicia, I don’t care for dishonest politicians.  Just one time, I’d appreciate if you could accept the blame and move on- you could even try apologizing for your increasingly improper behavior. If I were you, I would be more concerned about the other allegations circling about you.  Here’s a screenshot anyway though, watch for any grammatical mistakes, as I’m sure they are the fault of someone else, perhaps George Soros.  I feel the need to remind you that Mr. Knox would NEVER use poor grammar….

Oh, but it gets even worse.  This evening, in reply to a letter sent by Hiedi Handford of Montana Connect Magazine, Rep Knox responded in a delightful manner- the exchange is as follows:

On Fri, 8 Apr 2011 15:28:05 -0600, “Rep. James Knox” wrote:

Montana’s across the state have clearly said repeal it.
Thank you,
Rep. James Knox
From: Hiedi Handford [mailto:hiedi@mtconnectmagazine.com]
Sent: Friday, April 08, 2011 3:32 PM
To: Rep. James Knox
Subject: RE: A message from the “Scourge” 

You are so full of shit Knox. Look beyond your own damned nose……

Oh – and you and your wife celebrating patients suffering? What a nice couple you are…….”I’m glad we can take medicine away from people who need it”

Please move back to whatever rock you climbed out from under in whatever state you came from. You most certainly are NOT a Montanan.

Montana Connect Magazine
P.O. Box 432
Lincoln, MT 59639
~ We Bring Integrity & Credibility to the Medical Cannabis Industry~

On Fri, 8 Apr 2011 15:37:19 -0600, “Rep. James Knox” wrote:


FYI that post is slanderous and photo shopped I have initiated legal actions. If you actually can believe my wife would actually say that or I would in such poor English say something. Your high. Oh you are.
Thank you,
Rep. James Knox
“There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily.” George Washington, letter to Edmund Randolph, July 31, 1795
Knox, by informing others that I used Photoshop to create a false post from Alicia Knox that he claims doesn’t actually exist (although it did before it was deleted) he is actually slandering ME.  Admonishing Hiedi over his unwillingness to use poor English gave me a chuckle because the post in question was actually one of his finer ones grammatically speaking. To mock a legitimate cannabis patient, calling her “high”, however; is reprehensible.
I must admit that posts about Knox were initially sort of sickly entertaining but now, I’m over it.  I’m tired of him hearing of his antics.  I’m tired of him mocking critically ill Montana voters, I’m tired of paying his salary and $733/mo health benefits, and I’m tired of him embarrassing the Republican Party (of which I’m a disgruntled member) and most of all, I’m tired of his actions contributing to our legislature’s public humiliation.  A biennial legislative session shouldn’t remind us of a Jerry Springer or Days of our Lives episode.

Do we really want someone like this representing us?

Interested in more information about James Knox? See the following links:

Eating our Own, A How to Manual By Rep James Knox

James Knox: Montanafesto Links

James Knox: Montana Cowgirl Blog Links

James Knox: Intelligent Discontent Links

James Knox: 4&20 Blackbirds Links

Perhaps you’d like to watch him cry?

Here are some more screenshots for your viewing pleasure.  I didn’t use photoshop on them- they are disgusting enough without alteration.  Click on each thumbnail to expand to full size.


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”.

Rick Hill: A Lot of Baggage, Still NOT “A Lot of Folks”

While there still aren’t a “lot of folks for Rick Hill”, the 2012 hopeful republican gubernatorial candidate is at least aware that he needs some more folks.  Late last week, he sent out an email virtually begging for new followers, perhaps because nearly all of his devoted supporters (primarily lobbyists and insurance executives) already have maxed out their contributions to his campaign.  He expressed his intentions to have the most friends, Twitter followers, blog subscribers, etc and vowed to show everyone how an online campaign is run.

Dear Friend:

I’m very pleased to announce the launch of our new web site at:


When I last ran for public office over ten years ago, the Internet was still fairly new, and the social media revolution was in its infancy.  But I’m excited to get to try new things with this campaign, and I’ve made it my goal to be on the cutting edge of technology this election cycle.  It is my goal to be the candidate all others are trying to catch up to in our online presence.  I want the most Facebook friends, the most Twitter followers, the most subscribers to my blog, and most importantly, I want to raise the most money online.

Over the weekend we launched a new web site, a new Facebook page, and a new Twitter feed.  I need your help to get the word out to start building our presence.

Please forward this email liberally.  Please go to your own Facebook networks and suggest they join me.  Please spread the word in every way you know how and let’s show Montana how an online campaign is run!

Join me on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

Subscribe to my RSS feed

Contribute to my campaign

I can’t thank you enough for your support,


Paid for by A Lot of Folks for Rick Hill, Republican

PO Box 1585

Helena, MT 59624

Note:  He has not been making any friends in the medical cannabis industry, in fact, he has mocked patients and caregivers at every opportunity in nearly all of his speeches at area Lincoln Reagan Dinners.

Well one thing is for sure, Hill isn’t short on arrogance, although the fact that he wears lifts in his shoes and generally travels with a stool (kind of like tiny Michele Bachmann) to create the illusion of height at his public appearances would lead some to believe he is indeed insecure.  Because of his desire to have the most friends, most Twitter followers, etc, he has recently been imitating opponent Corey Stapleton, posting photos very similar to his and copying his Facebook status update topics.   Stapleton must be doing something right though, he has more Facebook friends and more Twitter followers.  Stapleton’s posts are generally thought provoking and he often encourages friends to comment on controversial issues.  In contrast, each of Hill’s posts masquerade as news articles about … you guessed it, Mr. Hill himself.  In reality, however, the links lead visitors to his own campaign website.  As a result, one of the candidates seems REAL while the other one seems manufactured.  I will let readers be the judge.

Unfortunately for Hill, arrogance isn’t enough to be elected governor, especially after a sudden shady decade long “retirement” that included obtaining a faux online law degree (ironically while he was supposedly going blind, cyber braille perhaps?) and working as a lobbyist.  In addition to that, some “folks” may recall his public infidelity and subsequent divorce, temper tantrums that included hurling a letter opener at a congressional staffer, abysmal JBS Freedom Index scores, and reputation for tyrannical behavior.  Hill holds a slight lead over Stapleton, but the race is young.  Former US Congressman Hill suffers from low name recognition (all of the GOP candidates do, but Hill was the only one who held national office) as well as high negatives.   Obviously the liberals are having fun mocking Hill, today Cowgirl referred to him as the GOP’s crusty leading man but he has real trouble on the right as well. A lot of baggage, but not “a lot of folks”.

(we anticipate a prompt response from  Hill’s yes man operative, Chuck Denowh, to defend his honor)

Knox and Edmunds for PSC?

MONTaliban member Rep. James Knox, Rep. Champ Edmunds, and an unidentified third person were recently seen at a meeting with PSC Chair Bill Gallagher and PSC Vice Chair Brad Molnar.  At this meeting,  “I cannot recall selling marijuana” Knox and Edmunds were reportedly asked to run for Public Service Commission in 2012.  * interesting note, newly elected Republican PSC member Travis Kavulla was apparently not present.

This presents some perplexing questions… 1.  Are they crazy? 2. Are they simply trying to get them out of the legislature?  3. Are they crazy?

It isn’t known for certain if they do indeed plan to run, although a Republican legislative staffer was reportedly asked by Knox if she’d run his PSC campaign.  Word on the street is that she politely declined.

Maybe Molnar and Gallagher had not yet seen thisthis, this, this, this, this, or this.  And those are only the links I could recall off-hand.

From Intelligent Discontent:

I suspect there are certain things no one forgets, among them:

  • the nervous feeling on your first date.
  • graduating from high school.
  • your marriage and birth of your children.
  • whether or not you’ve ever been a drug dealer.

Haha! I love it.  Poor James Knox.


Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

Rick Hill has a new campaign Facebook page.  You may remember, his initial group page “A lot of folks for Rick Hill“, didn’t attract many folks at all (it peaked at 78).  It appears that Mr. Hill has responded to bold branding pieces fresh from the Stapleton campaign in an attempt to compete, creating the new campaign page featuring a new Stapleton-esque photo.  Currently, Stapleton’s campaign Facebook page has around 1700 fans compared to Hill’s 31, Ken Miller’s 859, Livingstone’s 66 Twitter followers, and Jim O’Hara’s 70 Facebook fans.

Corey Stapleton released this photo weeks ago.

Hill’s version:

As a younger voter, Stapleton’s new photo definitely appeals to me- the bio is an eye-catching display portraying him as youthful, fresh and hip- a sharp contrast to the elderly (over the) Hill who has suffered from health problems for the last decade.

I’ve been criticized in the past for giving the numbers too much credit.   I do find it odd that we are expected to accept polling results yet supporters utilizing social media aren’t considered credible indicators.  I realize that calling a candidate out for copying his opponent is probably a little petty, but so is leaking a “rumor” to politico.com that an opponent was considering dropping out of the Gubernatorial race to run against fellow republican Steve Daines for US House when there has never been any evidence suggesting such.   In the past, Hill has gone dirty early, attacking his opponents in primary elections as well as generals.  This seems to be more of the same.  One would expect Hill to be polling higher at this point- after all, he was a 2 term US House Representative.


Thanks so much to Chuck Denowh, who mentioned that Rick has been using that photo since January. Apparently we just didn’t see it since his “A lot of folks for Rick Hill” group closed up shop after few folks showed any interest.  Didn’t see it on his website either, but I’m sure it was widely distributed.  Again, thanks Chuck!  Not going to post the retraction he requested however.

Mike Milburn, Montana Masochist

Speaker Milburn’s anti-compassion presentation.  His words in black, mine in red.

Speaker Milburn wants you to suffer. It hurts so good!!

I was asked to do this quite awhile ago. Not proud enough to claim this as your own idea, huh? As we all know the medical marijuana initiative passed the voters by some sixty percent actually 62% Mike, you know that. Followed by several years of not much activity, then all of the sudden people understood that they could get away with abuse umm, actually, that isn’t what happened at all…and the flood gates opened. Calls came in from schools, the city, and the addiction center, what they told me was shocking and of course none of these calls came in prior to 2004 when Montana approved the medical use of cannabis, right?! I went to meetings and people which people, names please expressed that they understood what was happening to our society, to our kids and to our communities what exactly is “happening to our society, kids and communities”?

It’s no longer about the medical use of marijuana; it is now all about the marijuana itself and legalizing the drug, no, Mike…. it IS about medical use of the drug.  Last I checked, there were no plans to legalize the drug.

People any specific people? No room for hearsay in the legislative process…. come on, Mike… let’s be professionals here asked, can we repeal the whole initiative? Yes, it is possible, of course it is possible, any law is possible to change, you can eliminate it, change it, and we do it everyday umm, actually, we don’t do it quite that often, Mike.

I have been getting a lot of support, more everyday, especially from the schools and their concern about the deteriorating effects they are seeing upon kids using marijuana. Kids are showing up at school under the influence or just not showing up at all and I suppose this NEVER happened prior to legalizing the medical use?

So I proceeded in this direction, seeing that there was a huge upswing in the use of marijuana by teens in our schools attributable only to our medical cannabis laws I assume? and communities and medical marijuana card numbers were going up.

We can’t keep up with the data; it’s going up so fast umm, actually, new numbers are released every month…. do you need them more frequently than monthly? The huge upswing of medical marijuana is a problem.

It is no longer an issue of medical marijuana; it’s an issue of marijuana. Actually, Mike…. we are only talking about the medical use of marijuana.  We’ve already established that non-medical use of marijuana is illegal.

We’ve opened the floodgates.  It’s like Hurricane Katrina. Great analogy. We’re not talking about the dikes holding back the water anymore. We’re talking about, how do you rebuild the city? That is where we are at. Of course you are only SAYING that though, Mike.  You have no intentions of rebuilding the city, you are looking to condemn it entirely.

What I have found, and what I believe is the only way to handle this is to shut down the industry. And  you are an expert on this subject I assume? We have got to shut it down. The money that is being made in this industry, and the drugs that are being sold, it’s staggering. Drugs, Mike?  Or how about medicine?We have an industry that is out of control. So regulation is impossible?  Because the industry isn’t what you would like it to be, it should be eliminated?

The numbers, 28,000 cards we have issued in Montana, we don’t have that many hurt people around. You are, I assume; a physician?  Oh really?  You aren’t.  Hmmm. In Helena we have greenhouses full of marijuana plants, with 6 plants per person; we have a lot of hurt people. Again, you know how many “hurt people” are in the state? That’s as many people with marijuana  cards as the population we have in the city of Helena. Although we are talking about an entire state, a population of nearly a million people.

I have been asked hearsay again, Mike, why undo something that Montanans wanted. And we will continue to ask that question. Well this is not what they wanted. You can speak for ALL of us? I do not hear from anyone that was not already a marijuana user themselves, that they wanted this. Not one person, huh?  OK, Mike.  We believe you. The widespread abuses of marijuana go far beyond the intent of the voters who approved the initiative nearly seven years ago. And because our legislature is so damned lazy and arrogant, we are going to tell those voters they made a big mistake.This is not what is wanted by voters. Speak for yourself. I don’t hear from any person that this is what they voted for.  This is a lie.  You’ve heard from me…. you just won’t admit it apparently.  I noticed you haven’t ever responded to any of my messages.

We can’t fix it. Because our legislature is inept and has a religious agenda. We have got to shut it down. Because we are lazy. What are we doing to ourselves and our kids?  What are we doing?  Not “WE”, Mike… YOU.  What are YOU doing to ourselves and our kids?  You are perpetuating the most ridiculous stereotypes.  You embarrass us! We need some breathing room. And as a person who doesn’t suffer from a debilitating illness, it is so easy for you to make that claim.

Reference is made to a chart and to the blue line increases in the chart. This is in months, not years, this is scary! This is huge. We are now #2 in the nation in teen usage of marijuana, a year ago we were 10th. This is the high end of the average in the U.S. This is serious! Oddly enough, we were also number one prior to legalizing medical use of cannabis in our state.  We won’t mention that though…. we will just put it on a website without disclosing the fact that those numbers were from almost a decade ago.

We have changed our culture in Montana in just several months. Yes, Mike.  Thanks to you and your minions, we have changed our culture to one of fear.  Patients are afraid  that you will take away a substance that has saved their lives and allowed them to become productive citizens. We used to be the rough and tough cowboys, loggers, miners, ranchers, farmers, the hard workers, ones who were proud of their families and their communities. Now we are a state governed by tyrants. We are changing our identity in just a few months. And we blame YOU. That is what we are doing. Tyranny at its best.

The money being made is staggering! Yes, the industry has put people to work! That is more than you can say for yourself. Growers are hiring people, previously vacant warehouses are suddenly filled with paying tenants, gardening supply stores are cropping up and hardware stores are benefiting. Contractors are busy, electricians are busy. Pain is the main reason for obtaining a medical marijuana card. This is odd, why?  Lots of people have pain. What is the main reason for obtaining an oxycontin prescription? It is huge on the graph found in red. Usage among teenagers is so common they think it’s legal. Because they aren’t stupid.  They are more informed than YOU are. They are shocked to find out it is illegal. Because it is such a safe substance, they see alcohol’s effects every day and they wonder why something like cannabis is considered so evil. Enough people are getting cards that students are supplying to students. And why have we not arrested these people? This is a travesty. That’s where we are at on that.

Another embarrassing thing happened. North Dakota’s initiative failed close to 70%. The Director of Criminal Investigation used us as a bad example. Which may be why it failed.  North Dakotans believed your lies. Radio and TV ads said, “We don’t want to look like Montana!” “Do you want the mess Montana is in?” It failed because they used us as a bad example. That’s why it failed?  Not because cannabis has no legitimate medical use?  You don’t say.  Thanks for making our argument for us.

Let’s look at the validity in the use of marijuana as a medicine.  First of all the Department of Justice and Drug abuse administration stated, how our nation responds to drug abuse is one of the most important and dangerous issues facing American citizens, and especially for our youth today.  United States drug enforcement administration under the US Department of Justice takes a firm stand and I quote “smoked marijuana is not a medicine and it is not safe”. Who said anything about smoking it? Have you ever heard of a vaporizer?  Or how about edibles, tincture, or ointments?

Marijuana has been classified as a schedule 1 drug. Possession, distribution and manufacturing of it is illegal under federal law. Drugs have classification under accepted medicinal use and the potential for abuse and their psychological and physical effects on the body.  Cocaine is a schedule II drug.  Clearly because it is far safer and less prone to abuse than cannabis.  Methamphetamine is a schedule II drug- prescribed in pharmaceutical form it is known as Desoxyn- and is prescribed to children for control of ADHD.  Clearly, methamphetamine is far more safe than cannabis.  You do realize how ridiculous you sound, right?

Schedule 1 drugs are categorized as such because of high potential for abuse and a lack of any accepted medical use and an absence of any accepted safety for use in medically supervised treatment. Oddly enough, the MAYO clinic PROVIDES cannabis to patients and GASP!!! even allows them to smoke it.  Clearly an expert such as yourself knows more about the medical use of cannabis than anyone at that silly MAYO clinic. The DEA was challenged, the schedule 1 status so they could regulate and distribute it. The DEA Health and Human Services Department performed rigorous testing and found marijuana to be highly addictive with no medicinal value and refused to de list it. You may want to check the facts again here, Mike.  That isn’t quite the reason….The US Supreme Court upheld that ruling.

FDA – has not approved smoked marijuana for any condition or disease. Again, who said anything about smoking it? FDA noted that they currently have sound evidence that smoked marijuana is harmful. As opposed to opiates which are so safe. That no sound scientific studies support the use of marijuana for medical treatment in the U.S. You are joking, right?  I can name countless studies off the top of my head.  Of course, my truth is inconvenient for you. Marijuana does not meet any standards of modern medicine for quality and safety. Because it is just that safe. Marijuana does not fall under any doctor’s management protocol of dosages, risk and side effects or drug interactions, indications and contradictions. Because it is impossible to overdose on it.  The same cannot be said even for WATER. The same holds true for a pharmacist.

So you are going to hear from proponents today about glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, cancer and a number of diseases and conditions. God forbid you accept any testimony from actual patients who have a better quality of life because of this substance. But the following voices of the medical community do not accept smoked marijuana as a medicine.  I notice you mentioned “smoked” marijuana again.  Did we ever say anything about smoking it?

Following in:

DEA – Health and Human Services  You may want to check this link, Mike.  It appears this has more to do with money and Big Pharma than safety or efficacy.  Everyone wants a piece of the pie.

Sept. 6, 1988, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Chief Administrative Law Judge, Francis L. Young said

“Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man,” he wrote. “By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care. … The evidence in this record clearly shows that marijuana has been accepted as capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people, and doing so with safety under medical supervision. It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record.”

American Medical Association   Hmmm, actually, Mike…. check out this link.  The AMA in 2009 changed their 72 year long stance on marijuana.  They now claim it clearly has medical benefits.

American Cancer Society  The American Cancer Society has an issue with SMOKING marijuana.  No mention of other methods of ingestion…. again, we aren’t necessarily talking about smoking it.   The ACS members were among the first to recommend cannabis for regulation of pain, anorexia, and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.

American Academics of Pediatrics Clearly they haven’t met one of Montana’s youngest medical cannabis users… 2 year old Cash Hyde whose parents claim wouldn’t be with them today without medical cannabis.

American Glaucoma Society  Patients and physicians agree that marijuana is an effective treatment for relieving interocular pressure associated with glaucoma.

National Multiple Sclerosis Society  MANY MS patients and their physicians believe medical cannabis has benefits in the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis

Institute of Medicine British Association  Why we should care what any nanny-state entity believes is beyond me.

American Society of Addiction Medicine  This entity exists only because of “addictions”.  Why work themselves out of a job?

American Society of Addiction Medicine asserts that cannabis, cannabis-based products, and cannabis delivery devices should be subject to the same standards that are applicable to other prescription medications and medical devices and that these products should not be distributed or otherwise provided to patients unless and until such products or devices have received marketing approval from the Food and Drug Administration. ASAM rejects smoking as a means of drug delivery since it is not safe.  So, we can use a vaporizer.  It is settled.

All say if it is smoked it is harmful. All don’t accept marijuanaas a medicine.  No, all don’t accept SMOKED marijuana as a medicine.  Who said anything about smoking it?  And if patients choose to ingest their medicine by smoking it as opposed to some other delivery mode, they are endangering themselves.  Not our business.

Merinol in pill form is the only form that can be prescribed by a doctor.  Marinol is SYNTHETIC THC.  It is expensive, must be stored at specific temperatures, and is often thrown up before it ever has an opportunity to quell nausea associated with chemotherapy and disease.

At addiction centers nationally and locally there is more teen dependency than all other illicit drugs combined.  We aren’t talking about the nation here…. are you really going to claim that locally we have more kids in treatment for marijuana than we do for alcohol?

We talk about forming a model of marijuana to look like Europe. Umm, no we aren’t.  Who cares about nanny-state Europe.  Socialism has failed.  And who said Europe has liberal marijuana laws?  Don’t tell me you are referring to Sweden again…. We find Europe is rethinking its liberal marijuana laws and use. They report significant mental and physical consequences that lead to higher crime rate and social costs.  And they would know all about social costs considering they are all socialists.  Let’s look at one of your own quotes.

America looked socialism in the eye and said they were scared”.  Damn right we are scared Mike! One wouldn’t think you would use socialists as any sort of example.  Since when does America follow another nation’s lead?  We are the leaders of the free world…. nonsense like the propaganda you are producing makes a mockery of us.  Who the hell cares about our “rough and tough cowboy image”?  You guys want being gay to be a crime and your own judiciary chair (former) Sen. Shockley drinks while he drives.  Can you say hypocrisy??

Australia – will fight to turn around an 8 year soft drug approach and it has left lives ruined lives ruined by medical cannabis specifically?  If not, totally irrelevent.

Holland – same thing here, marijuana use is so dominate did you perhaps mean predominate  or dominant? Dominate is a verb.  Just sayin. that people don’t have space for other things in their lives, user’s crawl out of bed, smoke marijuana and don’t work, and then they don’t know what to do with their lives.  And this is because of medical use?  Please cite specific sources.

Switzerland – suffering again the same thing.  Actually, the Swiss have advocated complete decriminalization.  Although it didn’t pass parliament, they did ease marijuana laws in the past year.

California Chief of Police says that if you have drugs and money you are going to have crime. People think that by decriminalizing it that the Mexican and Asian gangs will go away. That’s not the world we live in. How do you know?  Have we ever tried it?  Clearly what we are doing is working so well.

Montana is known nationwide as a place to come for marijuana. I’m not criticizing the quality of Montana cannabis, but let’s be honest here.  Connoisseurs aren’t flocking to our state.  We are becoming known as a place where you CAN’T get marijuana because you sadistic bastards are on a power trip. It has created a multi-million dollar industry that’s largely unregulated and drawing criminals to the state.  Actually, criminals are LEAVING the state in droves because they can no longer make enough money selling marijuana.  Competition has improved quality and decreased prices.  They are headed east.  The ones who have stayed are now legally using cannabis and the ones illegally partaking are subject to criminal proceedings.  Arrest them!!

It’s a problem.  Certainly not one of our biggest problems however.  Every day we hear about yet another person being arrested for their tenth or fourteenth DUI.  Nobody is trying to criminalize alcohol though…. why?  Because we know prohibition does not work.

We are dealing with the consequences of the initiative. Actually, this is happening because you chose NOT to deal with the consequences of the initiative in any of the prior sessions.  Accept your portion of the blame, work with the industry and patients and move on. Shut the industry down. Shut the hell up, Mike Milburn.  You have no credibility.

**special thanks to cannapropaganda who will be guest blogging in my absence.

Just applyin’ your own CODE, pardner

Not so sure the Republican Cowboys want this code after all, pardner.

Jim Peterson, yes, the President of Montana’s 2011 Senate has proposed SB 216… to adopt the cowboy code of ethics as Montana’s code.  Just what does this mean for us?  Well….. not really anything.  Governor Schweitzer has already threatened it with a veto as Montanans really don’t require the legislature’s assistance to enact a code to live by.  Let’s just pretend this does indeed become the “law” of the land though…. we better investigate.

What is the Cowboy Code of Ethics?  According to James P. Owen, author of   Cowboy Code of Ethics, the code of the west was unwritten, but every cowboy knew what it was.  He broke the code into ten principles.  My commentary is in red.

1   Live each day with courage.

Recent examples of courageous behavior in the 2011 legislative session include the six Republicans who broke with the prohibitionist party and voted against Speaker Milburn’s bill to repeal medical marijuana.

2   Take pride in your work

I’ve seen lots of pride in this session but not much work.  Let me rephrase that, not much work at fulfilling campaign promises to create jobs.

3   Always finish what you start

This one is definitely debatable this session.  I’m not sure I want them to finish anything they started.

4   Do what has to be done

Key word here is “HAS”.HAS to be done.  In my opinion, that would include balancing the budget and  finding some way to stimulate the economy.  HAS refers to an immediate NEED.  Do we NEED a frivolous bill to symbolically request that Congress leave the UN?  Do we NEED the Code of the West?  Do we NEED to require couples seeking a divorce 10 hours of costly marriage counseling?  Do we NEED a Montana militia?

5   Be tough, but fair

Fairness generally means conformity of standards….. eeeeek!   Equality.   I’m not even going to get into the repercussions of this becoming our big tough state code.  A recent example (although not even close to where this will eventually be headed) is the committee hearing on Milburn’s medical cannabis repeal bill.  While all 28 repeal proponents were able to tell their sob stories about how marijuana has ruined their tiny little lives, most of the 86 opponents were only allowed to state their names, how to spell them, and their position on the bill… which should have been obvious considering they were considered the OPPOSITION.

6   When you make a promise, keep it.

Damn it! We are going to have to keep going back to those campaign promises, aren’t we?  I guess Montana’s new Cowboy Code isn’t so bad after all.  We can just say, ooops, you broke the code, why on earth are you running for reelection?

7   Ride for the brand.

I think we all can agree we need to define the brand we are a ridin fer.  Is that thar brand the party or the mighty state of Montucky?

8   Talk less and say more.

I’d imagine this is the rule they wish I would have adhered to most often this session.  Voters will say a lot with a stroke of a pen in 2012.  Not a word needs to be uttered.

9   Remember that some things aren’t for sale.

That’s right.  Some things aren’t for sale.  Our souls, for one.  You save yours, I will save mine.

10   Know where to draw the line.

Give up now.  Ask yourself, does this bill create any jobs?  Does this bill in any way, shape or form repair our economy?  Does this bill fix any IMMEDIATE need?  Does this bill fulfill campaign promises to my constituents?

And that concludes my rant.

Montana’s GOP God Squad legislating your morality, quantifying your pain, & protecting you from yourself

Take a moment today to thank the house members listed in bold below.  Why you ask? Thank them for ignoring the will of the people and voting to advance the repeal of a law passed by 62% of Montanans.

Thank you, representatives, for being so lazy.  You refused to produce any bills that created jobs but were instead focused on eradicating an entire industry that provides THOUSANDS of jobs for Montanans in addition to producing legislation on a host of other social issues.  I urge Montanans to flood these traitors and the remaining  house members with emails, calls and visits to inform them that you don’t approve of this sort of betrayal of our populace.  You elected them to fix our economy and create jobs…. and what did they do?  Not a damned thing.

Gone are the days that I defend the legislature.  When the liberals are bitching about hypocritical lawmakers seeking to repeal Obamacare while accepting taxpayer-funded health insurance, I will be right on board.  I will never give another penny to the Montana Republican party and I will never spend another moments assisting with anyone running for election.

On the flip side, the democrats in this committee are for the first time in my good graces.  There is a special place in hell for those who lack compassion for people suffering from debilitating illnesses and that has nothing to do with political party affiliation. May God have mercy on your souls.

David Howard Chair*
Cary Smith Vice Chair* Hubby of Susan Smith of Safe Community Safe Kids infamy
Michael (Mike) More Member*
Pat Ingraham Member*
Dan Skattum Member*
Liz Bangerter Member*
Steve Fitzpatrick Member*
Dan Kennedy Member*
Joe Read Member*
Max Yates Member*
Timothy Furey Voted NO….
Pat Noonan Voted NO
Chuck Hunter Voted NO
Ellie Boldman Hill Voted NO
Carolyn Pease-Lopez Voted NO


Breaking….. Yes, Denny is Challenging Jon Tester (Is anyone really surprised?)

All of the speculation surrounding Denny Rehberg‘s political plans for the future is being put to rest. Thankfully rollcall.com is breaking the “news” that Denny Rehberg is indeed challenging Jon Tester‘s senate seat.  I was getting really tired of sitting on the info while political insiders claimed he was focusing on his House seat now in light of the successful fundraising by Steve Daines.   Michele Bachmann is speaking at the Lewis & Clark Lincoln-Reagan Day dinner where Rehberg is expected to make his announcement.

Steve Daines is expected to announce Thursday that he will be dropping his senate challenge to Tester and instead running for  Rehberg’s empty house seat.  Daines was off to a great start fundraising and it is doubtful that he could have raised so much so quickly running for US Congress.

Tester has made quite a few enemies on the left lately, in part due to his vote against granting amnesty for children of illegal aliens.  He’s managed to run under the radar in Montana however, voting exactly like Max Baucus most of the time while escaping criticism.  Will Rehberg’s challenge produce a Republican senator from Montana or will our state lose all GOP representation in DC?


All-Mail Voting in Montana: Do Fiscal Benefits Outweigh Potentially Increased Risks for Voter Fraud?


Voting by mail..... or at McDonalds?

Should Montana’s elections be conducted through the mail in an effort to save money? HB 130, which is sponsored by Pat Ingraham (R-Thompson Falls) calls for vote-by-mail elections in every local, state, and federal election in Montana beginning in 2012. According to Secretary of State Linda McColloch, a hand-picked member of the George Soros-funded Secretary of State Project:


Vote-by-mail elections increase voter participation, enhance voter protection and save taxpayer money.”

Representatives from the Montana League of Rural Voters, Montana Disability Rights, Montana Conservation Voters, Montana Association of Clerks and Recorders, Forward Montana, Montana Women Vote and Montana’s sovereign Indian nations worked together to propose the legislation.  Election administrators participating were from Blaine, Gallatin, Missoula, Pondera and Yellowstone counties.

Many opponents believe that all-mail voting is a way to increase dem turnout because it appeals to slackers and parasites who are too lazy to get off their duffs and vote in person while others think that voting should require some effort as a means of being certain of who is casting the votes.  Personally, although I’ve often voted via absentee ballot, I believe the proposed switch would primarily benefit democrats and I question whether the financial savings created by all-mail voting would outweigh the potential for voter fraud.

“All-mail”  is somewhat of a misnomer in other states, as completed ballots are often left at unofficial drop sites or picked up at doors by volunteers, most often sponsored by political groups and elected officials present this as a beneficial  form of constituent service.  Election officials in states where elections are conducted by mail (like WA and OR)  admit that they have no way of knowing whether they received every single ballot that was handed over to someone other than an authorized election official.  Voting by mail requires cooperation with universities, private mail services and group homes.  Group homes present extraordinary opportunities for voter fraud as dozens of ailing patients can be easily manipulated by a corrupt worker or coerced by campaign workers in a GOTV effort.  In universities, the high rate of turnover can be utilized to submit numerous fraudulent ballots.

On a local and state level, where elections are often won by a handful of votes (SD 25 for instance, where Democrat Kendall Van Dyk beat incumbent Republican Roy Brown by only 4 votes), just a few fraudulent votes could turn an election. The possibilities are truly endless.  My primary reason for not voting early is more practical than legal, however.  Much potential exists for decision-changing events or the exposure of scandalous information in the days prior to elections.  I want to ensure I don’t vote early for a flawed candidate as there is no buyer’s remorse provision for the voter.

On the other hand, there is always potential for election fraud and it is estimated that counties could save up to $2 million every election cycle by switching to voting by mail.  Your thoughts?


Chuck Baldwin: Carpetbagger or Called by God?

Is Baldwin a political opportunist or was he called by God to move his family to Montana?

Montana newcomer Chuck Baldwin, the pastor who ran unsuccessfully for US President in 2008 on the Constitutional Party ticket, recently declared that the prospect of running for Governor of Montana is “so thrilling, I just get goose bumps.”  Baldwin said “There has to be a governor who is willing to put his life on the line to defend the constitution.”  That brings up an interesting point actually. Baldwin would enter an already crowded  race, joining Corey Stapleton, Ken Miller, Rick Hill, and Jim O’Hara on the GOP ticket, Dave Wanzenreid for the Democrat party, and Ron Vandevender who is running as a libertarian.  Baldwin has been critical of the both the Republican and Democrat parties, calling them “two peas in the same pod” so I assume he’d be running as a Constitutional party candidate.  As far as I know, however; the only candidate in the race thus far who was actually “willing to put his life on the line to defend the constitution” was Corey Stapleton, who spent more than a decade in the US Navy.  Perhaps the statement was an endorsement.   After receiving a direct message from God, Baldwin moved nearly 20 family members to the Flathead valley last summer.  Declaring Montana the “tip of the spear” in the freedom fight, Baldwin abandoned his Pensacola, FL  flock  in favor of the more freedom-minded Montana folk. While I’m sure Chuck Baldwin is a fine man, I have yet to see that he is capable of running an organization or city let alone running one of the largest states in the union.  I often do agree with Baldwin, but I don’t think  Montana is ready to elect a 9/11 truther who believes that a breakup of the US is inevitable, regularly appears with conspiracy wackjob Alex Jones, and preaches about new world order and FEMA death camps. Baldwin said:

So, living or dying, we intend to circle the wagons around the State of Montana and fight to our dying breath for the right of that State to live free!

Last I checked, Montana wasn’t at war.  Baldwin’s rhetoric is passionate and dramatic, but lacks specificity. I’m not denying the possibility of a calling from God, but many may doubt his claim- Montanans are skeptical of outsiders.  I’m happy he and his family moved to Montana and that they are freedom-loving Christian patriots- his influence could strengthen conservatism in Montana. If however, he runs for governor after so briefly residing in our state, suspicion will override all respect I have for his ideals and I will view him as a political opportunist who thought Montana’s voters were prime for picking.  In addition to that, it may guarantee a Democrat governor.

Senator Shockley and the Breeding of Lawlessness

Do as I say, not as I do.

Sigh….yet another hypocritical politician. Hey, nobody’s perfect, but when your focus as an elected official is legislating the morality of others, you should probably possess some pretty impeccable ethics yourself. Senator Jim Shockley (R, Victor), chair of the Judiciary, State Administration, and Ethics committees was cited last week for open container after an off-duty police officer noticed him drinking a beer while driving.  Shockley’s committee is hearing a number of bills regarding impairment as many consider Montana’s lax DUI laws to be responsible for high fatality rates on our highways. Senator Shockley is seeking a repeal of the medical marijuana law claiming “it breeds lawlessness.”  He is also sponsoring a bill to allow game wardens to issue minor in possession tickets as well as  one authorizing warrants to obtainblood or breath tests in DUI cases.

Senator Jim Peterson, President of the Senate, in reaction to Shockley’s citation, released the following statement:

We are obviously very disappointed to hear the report that a member of our body was found to be in possession of an open container while driving last Friday evening. We are in full support of strong laws against drinking and driving that apply to every Montanan. We are committed to pursuing meaningful DUI reform and working to change the culture of drinking and driving in Montana.”

I wonder if Shockley has been smoking some medical marijuana…. considering the lawlessness of his actions.  It seems that every day in our local newspapers, we read articles about Montanans being arrested for their eighth, tenth, or even their fourteenth citation for driving under the influence of alcohol.   Perhaps the legislators should focus on keeping habitual drunk drivers off of our streets instead of obsessing over repealing the medical marijuana law simply because it doesn’t fit into their idea of morality.

I realize that everyone makes mistakes, but we should hold our elected officials to higher standards.  Shockley’s excuse for drinking and driving was that it was a lapse in judgement.  Returning home from the legislative session in Helena, he stopped in Drummond to clear his windshield and purchased a Clamato according to Shockley.  He admitted to drinking one beer prior to leaving Helena as well.  Although the senator’s BAC was .03 (below the legal threshold of .08), this hardly seems like a “lapse in judgement” considering he had to purchase the beer and Clamato.  One would think that there would have been at least one moment where he recalled supporting a law banning the activity in which he would be momentarily participating.   I realize this charge isn’t the end of the world, Shockley was clearly not legally intoxicated this time, but how often does he drink alcohol alone as he commutes to and from Helena?  Could he truly not curtail his habit  while serving in our brief biennial session? Way to provide Governor Schweitzer (who recently called the Montana legislature the “biggest boozers”) more ammunition.

I really do prefer criticizing liberals so I pray the GOP stops giving me reason to chastise them.  Sadly, hypocrisy reigns supreme in politics.  That said, this is Senator Shockley’s first alcohol-related offense.  He paid his fine, accepted responsibility, and will no doubt be punished in his bid for attorney general.  Hopefully in the future, he will remove the log from his own eye before condemning and imposing regulations on others.

The Petty Perspective From Within King Schweitzer’s Glass House

Brian Schweitzer and Kendall Van Dyk think Republican legislators are hypocrites and boozers.

Governor Schweitzer really loves Montana’s legislature.  In light of the high rate of compensation ($10 or so/hour) the lawmakers  rake in at work, he wants them to provide their own personal laptop computers for legislative use.  After all, they are making the big bucks while working during Montana’s biennial session.   Today Schweitzer blasted Republican leadership for approving laptop purchases for legislators, calling them hypocrites for campaigning on fiscally conservative platforms.  Schweitzer said that he stopped all computer purchases in the executive branch a few months ago to save money. He says he now only purchases computers if absolutely necessary.

There is no word on whether the governor’s staff uses their personal computers at work, but House Majority leader Tom McGillvray doesn’t seem to think so.  Schweitzer’s comparison to the ban on new executive branch computers is flawed because none of those state employees are required to use their own personal computer. And neither should lawmakers, McGillvray said.

The “feed bill”, which pays for operation of the legislature was approved Monday containing a computer stipend capped at $1000 for lawmakers.   Since 2007, legislators have been given a stipend of up to $1,500 to buy a laptop computer for their own use.

Some democrats plan to oppose the bill.   Sen. Kendall Van Dyk of Billings said tea party-backed Republicans who have trashed government spending need to live by their own rhetoric. He pointed out lawmakers get to keep the laptops even if they lose their next election.  “Before they do any legislative action up here they sign up for a free computer and free health care all on the taxpayer dime,” he said. “Given the economic times where you are talking about a Republican majority that is looking at cutting $360 million, maybe they should back away from the government trough before they start making cuts to education.”

“On one hand they come to town and they want to cut the size of government — does that mean all of government except themselves?” Schweitzer said. “I think if you are running for public office you probably have a personal laptop and that should be good enough.”  Last I checked, Brian Schweitzer was indeed an elected official.  I’m guessing he probably doesn’t use his own personal laptop for work but I could be mistaken.  Where does Governor Schweitzer live?  Perhaps he should forgo his accommodations at the Governor’s Mansion in favor of an more economical Airstream?  Surely the state could make some extra money by turning the governor’s house into a Bed and Breakfast… although I doubt Travelocity and Expedia would assist.  And Sen. Van Dyk…. I’m guessing you are working without compensation or health insurance?

Anyone who has known a state legislator (or has cared to research the issue) is probably aware that the service they provide is a substantial sacrifice.  Their compensation is actually rather minimal and they reside away from their families during the session.  Governor Schweitzer has consistently criticized the entire legislature for everything from being “boozers” to being fed by lobbyists.  For a guy who keeps talking about bipartisanship and working together to pass an adequate budget, he sure has an interesting way of displaying his affection.

I’m not sure how things work in the Montana state government, but I’ve never had an employer expect or even allow me to use my personal computer at work,  primarily due to security concerns.  I do believe that the computers purchased with legislative stipends should probably belong to the state and that upon leaving the legislature, they should be returned.

Denny’s Fresh New Deterrent to 2012 Senate Run

Will chairing powerful subcommittee be enough to deter Denny Rehberg from challenging Senator Jon Tester in 2012?

Montana’s Representative Denny Rehberg,  was today named chairman of the House Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, one of three subcommittees within the powerful  House Appropriations Committee.  Congressman Rehberg’s approval by Speaker Boehner and the House Republican Steering Committee was unanimous, he has served on the committee since 2005.

The question of Rehberg’s 2012 political intentions remains.  Will he be satisfied with his higher profile role in Congress or will he finally decide to run for Senator Jon Tester‘s US Senate seat in 2012?

Rumors have been circulating for months and the Rehberg camp has been relatively silent on the Congressman’s plans for the future.  Republican businessman Steve Daines of Bozeman has already announced a challenge to US Senator Jon Tester and many Montanans would prefer to avoid placing Rehberg and Daines in a contested primary.  Some speculate Daines would drop out as a courtesy to Rehberg and would instead run for the Rehberg’s US Representative seat, but neither side has confirmed any such plans. Interestingly, Rehberg was also rumored, albeit to a lesser extent, to be considering running for Montana governor.  Some Montana Republicans are frustrated with Rehberg, accusing him of actively thwarting the fundraising efforts of Republican candidates for both positions in question and are encouraging him to make a decision. When asked about Rehberg’s Senate prospects in 2012, spokesman Jed Link said “Denny is focused on doing the job the overwhelming majority of Montana voters sent him to Washington to do.”

Personally, I’d like Denny to remain where he is. I’m not a fan of lifelong politicians but since he apparently intends to be one, I think he will have far more power to advance a conservative agenda  while chairing a powerful subcommittee than he would as a freshman senator.  I think Steve Daines is a likeable candidate but his alignment with Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Hill is concerning.  I’d hate for Hill’s baggage to adversely affect Daines’s viability.  According to recent polls, US Congressman Hill currently has better name recognition but that recognition is highly negative. Daines, who is a relatively new face in politics (although he’s been involved on many levels for decades) may be wise to distance himself from the Hill campaign and instead capitalize on the current anti-incumbent/establishment politician wave.  The only one who stands to benefit from the alignment is Rick Hill, whose advanced age, health concerns, unimpressive voting record, and tendency to bail in stressful situations makes many  apprehensive about electing him to any office let alone crowning him the CEO of an entire state.