Thwarting the Tyrannical Minority: IR-124


During Montana’s 2011 legislative session, 113 of our elected representatives, in direct contradiction of the expressed will of the people, imposed their self-righteous puritanical views on the rest of us by approving SB 423. The lawmakers, after refusing to draft thoughtful legislation,approved Sen Jeff Essmann’s 33 page medical marijuana repeal bill and proudly announced to the  276,042 Montana voters who approved the state’s original law (I-148) that they were fulfilling voter intent.  Voters, patients and growers, however; were not convinced and have launched an initiative referendum campaign to refer SB 423 to Montana voters for rejection or approval.  IR-124, depending on the number of signatures obtained; has the potential to suspend SB 423 until November of 2012.

GET INVOLVED! This is an opportunity to assert your rights as a Montana citizen.  Legislators need to be reminded that they work for us and that we the people decide their political futures.  Repealing a citizens initiative sets a dangerous precedent and regardless of how Montanans actually feel about medical marijuana, it is difficult to understand how ANY could argue against empowering voters by allowing them to choose.  If we had trusted the legislature to act on our wishes, we would have never had a medical marijuana program in Montana yet a resounding 62% voted to approve it.  Time will tell whether this was or wasn’t what Montanans voted for.

If you are interested in helping with the effort to place IR-124 on the ballot, we’d love to hear from you. Visit our website, Patients for Reform, Not Repeal.  Training is required prior to gathering signatures so contact a zone coordinator or trainer and we will reserve a spot for you in one of our training sessions.

CONTACT INFO FOR PETITION TRAINERS:

SW Zone, Missoula/BRoot: Gabe McMurray at Sweetwater Caregivers at gabertoothtiger@gmail.com , phone number: 541-0420, Sweetwater also on Facebook

 NW Zone, Flathead area: James Blair, at jimmy1@neverhaulwateragain.com​ , also on Facebook as Jimmy   NC Zone, Great Falls area: Jessica Johnson mylittlebuggaboo@hotmail.com , 564-2667, and Grant Grenfell, here2headbang69@hotmail.com

SE Zone, Billings area: Elizabeth Springman at Elizabeth_Springman@yahoo.com 697-1810, and James Haneyheavenscentcannabis@gmail.com 670-0143

SCentral, Livingston, Big Sky, or Bozeman: Monica Blanchard in Livingston at ccofmt@gmail.com, 333-2622, or Charles Gaillard in Big Sky atjoinergroup@aol.com386-931-9334 ,and Dante Bonanin in Bozeman at bonusattheboz@hotmail.com

Central, Helena/Butte: Barb Trego at BarbsGoats@aol.com, 459-6247, and in Butte: Tawnya LaFond at TKiliayaRose1@aol.com 490-4273

Eastern Zone, Havre, Plentywood, Miles City, Glendive, Terry, Jordan, Circle, Glasgow, Wolf Point, Sidney, Broadus: Nicole French at NicoleFrench88@gmail.com 208-0204 and on Facebook.

Please consider making a financial contribution or give us a few hours of your time….the September 30 deadline for obtaining the necessary signatures is looming.

The Obama Administration’s Schizophrenic Marijuana Policy: Ogden, Haag, and Cole


Prior to his election, Obama had a reasonable outlook on medical marijuana

“I don’t think that should be a top priority of us, raiding people who are using … medical marijuana. With all the things we’ve got to worry about, and our Justice Department should be doing, that probably shouldn’t be a high priority.” — June 2, 2007, town hall meeting in Laconia, New Hampshire

“You know, it’s really not a good use of Justice Department resources.” — responding to whether the federal government should stop medical marijuana raids, August 13, 2007, town hall meeting in Nashua, New Hampshire

Nearly year after Obama was elected President, his administration, with great fanfare; released the Ogden memo. The memo essentially informed US Attorneys that the US government wouldn’t be focusing federal resources on the prosecution of individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.  As a result of this policy shift, the number of legal medical marijuana patients increased substantially in states allowing the use of medical marijuana.

On February 1, 2011, US Attorney Melinda Haag sent what is now known as the “Haag Memo”, to John Russo, Oakland City Attorney in response to Russo’s request of clarification of the federal stance. From the memo:

We will enforce the CSA (Controlled Substances Act) vigorously against individuals and organizations that participate in unlawful manufacturing and distribution activity involving marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law…. . ….Others who knowingly facilitate the actions of the licensees, including property owners, landlords, and financiers should also know that their conduct violates federal law.

Although hardly publicized, the Haag memo is consistent with federal action the following month:

On Wednesday, for the second time in this year, the Obama administration released a memo on  medical marijuana, the text of which can be viewed here.  This memo purports to provide clarification of previous memos yet seems more like a warning to anyone involved in any level of cannabusiness.  The text of the memo seems to acknowledge that state-sanctioned use of medical cannabis is alright, but good luck obtaining it, because the federal government is waging a war against those who grow it.  This clarification certainly clears things up.

Americans were accustomed to raids under the Bush administration, but Obama promised a different approach, giving a very false sense of security to cannabis patients.  In reality, Obama is on target to in four years, double the number of raids under 8 years of the Bush administration.  At least Bush’s actions were consistent with his words.  Some are speculating that US Atty Holder or rogue US Attys are acting without authorization, but launching raids IS policy and the number, scope, and focus of these violent raids suggests that they are orchestrated from the top.

How’s your badass president now?  I’ve had enough “change”  Perhaps it is time for a President whose actions are consistent with his words, has a decades long history of consistent messages and dedication to individual liberties, constitutional government and sound monetary policy.  Or maybe not.  Maybe you prefer wondering if federal agents will gun down your children as well as your dogs in the next early morning raid.  H.R. 2306, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act is currently in Congress.  To urge your Representatives and Senators to support this historic legislation, use this handy web form.

Trouble in Senator Essmann’s Bubble



Despite Essmann’s confident assertion that his new black market marijuana law is entirely constitutional, Judge Reynolds today issued a ruling today temporarily striking nearly all of the components of the law the MTCIA  considered unconstitutional, overly burdensome, or entirely unreasonable. The ruling places patient access and provider ability somewhere in the murky area between fully upholding Montana’s new medical marijuana law, SB423 which was set to take effect July 1 and temporarily nullifying the legislation in its entirety. Available here, the ruling in favor of the medical marijuana industry, successfully enjoined several provisions. Three of those provisions were voluntarily ceded by the state during the  legal proceedings last week (patient limits, warrantless searches, and the ban of advertising).  The others are as follows:

The Good

  • Providers can thankfully still charge patients for their medicine. SB 423, cannabis donation legislation, required that providers receive no compensation of any sort.  The judge found this expectation unprecedented.   “The court is unaware of and has not been shown where any person in any other licensed and lawful industry in Montana – be he a barber, an accountant, a lawyer or a doctor – who, providing a legal product or service, is denied the right to charge for that service or is limited in the number of people he or she can serve,” Reynolds wrote.
  • No board of medical examiners investigations for physicians recommending cannabis to 25 or more patients in a 12 month period. SB 423 required doctors to pay for their own mandatory investigations after recommending 25 or more patients in a year.
  • Unannounced searches:  This component was ruled unconstitutional and providers and patients will not be subject to the warrantless searches required by SB 423.
  • Advertising ban: This was ruled unconstitutional and will not take effect July 1.  Caregivers/providers are still able to advertise.  I wouldn’t advertise at this point, however; as I believe laying low is rather important during this transition period.
  • Patient limits: This component has been stricken.  Providers are free to have as many patients as  they desire. (SB 423 called for 3 patients maximum)
The Bad
  • To those on probation:  Probationers’ cards apparently are now void until we are able to obtain the signatures to repeal this law.  The faster we accomplish this feat, the more quickly we can suspend ALL of SB 423, not just the components ruled unconstitutional today.  If you have the resources, I’d suggest looking into a lawsuit to ensure the same health care access as other Montanans.  Keep in mind, I’m not an attorney however and cannot give legal advice.
The Ugly
Here is the real problem….unfortunately, we have a glitch in the transition period between being “caregivers” under I-148 and “providers” under SB 423.
  • There is no current provision in the law protecting cultivators from arrest as of midnight tonight.  It does appear, however; that the judge intends for commercial activity, legal cannabis commerce to commence and essentially this appears to be a bureaucratic oversight. But…. we don’t know.  We are hopeful this legal limbo period will be cleared up by the Department of Health and Human Services, but of course; this isn’t a guarantee.  We cannot tell you that you won’t be arrested.  Some activists are suggesting providers arrive in Helena tomorrow to sign up to become a “provider” rather than a “caregiver”.  Please be very careful in the meantime.
  •   Another wrinkle is that the new law requires “providers” be named as such, meaning there is a possibility that we won’t be able to transition to the new status until patients actually NAME us as their provider, but we are hopeful that the DHHS will assist in any way possible.  There is an allowance for a short transition period in the new law which allows “providers” to bypass the FBI background check and fingerprint requirements if they are accepted as “providers” prior to October.  Anyone intending to become a provider is encouraged to avoid these requirements, unless of course; you feel comfortable essentially sending the federal government notification that you intend to break their laws as well as an address to locate you for arrest. But that’s just me….
What Now?
I’m very confident that we will obtain the signatures required to overturn SB 423 completely but it won’t be easy, especially in a state the size of Montana. We have to do so by September 30. We need all of the help we can get, so if you haven’t yet; please sign up at mtcia.org.  We need assistance at every level- from those only willing to sign the petition to those who will serve as county or house district captains.
Keep in mind, there are MANY Montanans who are neither patients or providers helping with this effort.  Our state government sought to overturn the will of Montana voters (62% of us voted to approve the medical use of cannabis back in 2004) and every Montanan should be concerned about this.
*Participating in this important process does not brand you as a marijuana user/proponent/grower/millionaire (ha).  In fact, I’m not currently a patient or caregiver/provider. I stand to gain nothing from overturning SB 423, yet I’m coordinating the entire Eastern zone (which doesn’t even include the county in which I reside), assisting with management and coordination of gatherers in my county and house district, participating in my area MTCIA committee, running Montanafesto, and mothering my beautiful 13 year old mini-me political activist daughter.  None of us are being paid for our efforts and we are working our asses off to ensure patients have safe consistent access as I believe we all (yes, even Republicans) have a responsibility as human beings to help our disabled and infirm.  We are also working to ensure cultivators have a livelihood, so consider helping us help you. *
 You may not care about marijuana, but what about your second amendment rights?  How will you feel if the government decides to enact onerous legislation restricting your use or possession of firearms?  What if your industry is deemed “immoral” or “not what Montanans voted for”?  How will you feel then? If our legislature can overturn a citizen’s initiative passed by so many voters, what sort of message are we sending our already apathetic youth?  It is high time that Montanans start defending our rights, defending our constitution, and defending those of us who aren’t able to defend ourselves.
We are sorely in need of financial assistance as this was only the beginning of this battle.  We have an incredible legal team, but that sort of representation is very expensive. Due to anxiety over the new law, we’ve had a difficult time fundraising the past few weeks.  Now that we have a partial victory, please consider donating to our cause.  We currently owe our legal team a large sum of money. Click on the “donate” tab at mtcia.org- even if you can only spare a few bucks.  If anyone has any fundraising ideas, non-monetary donations, etc, feel free to contact any member of the mtcia board or to leave a message for me here (montanafesto@live.com). Thanks so much to those who have donated not only financially but with their time and talents.  This is a team effort and we are all making history.  Prohibition has a long history of failure, which side of history are you on?
Any questions?  I will do my best to answer queries in the comments or via email.
RAIDS: **warning**
There are rumors that federal raids will be occurring through the first week in July. I cannot confirm the validity of these claims, but please be careful.  Assert your rights as American citizens.  Barring presentation of a valid warrant, don’t allow law enforcement to enter your premises. 
There is, as I write, a federal and state raid occurring in Montana right now, reportedly in Missoula.  There is reportedly nothing atypical about it- plants are being seized, as well as inventory and equipment.  Don’t regard these growers are criminals- it could just as easily be any one of us.  In fact, it appears the most visible and compliant growers have actually been the ones raided.  There is, however; no pattern to the raids.  Some small growers have been raided because of connections to larger growers.  Most are dispensaries, but some were delivery only.  Don’t think for one moment that you are safe- you aren’t.  
Maintaining a total plant limit of under 100 may be beneficial. Please use common sense…. Be as close to invisible as possible.  No newspaper ads emblazoned with marijuana images, no Jason Christ-like tactics like smoking from a massive water bong on the Capitol lawn.  We are a professional but controversial industry so acceptance requires compromise.  

Montana Governor 2012: Social Media Contrasts


4&20 blackbirds  recently posted “Social Media and Montana’s Road to 2012…. or Your (sic) Doing it Wrong”. Although I disagreed with a few of the blogger’s liberal-leaning critiques, the bulk of the post was funny because it was so true.  The post suggests that successful use of social media includes the following:  engaging friends, eliminating staff posting (create your own posts), making posts personal yet using a filter(ask Weiner about this), utilizing creativity and wit (if available), and researching Montana’s candidates who have been successful in promoting themselves in today’s technological age (like Mike Miller and Ellie Hill) The blogger also discouraged candidates from following too many people and posting anything resembling something from the Facebook wall of James Knox.

Recent research has suggested that in predicting elections, social media presence is at least as important if not more than the amount of money raised by candidates. Now that the governor’s race in Montana has been elevated to Politico’s most competitive in the nation,  I decided to examine the use of social media by a few of the GOP’s Gubernatorial candidates. I’ve included promotional videos for each candidate, links to their social media accounts as well as an opinionated unbiased assessment of overall performance.

Rick Hill 

Viral ads: Hill’s campaign has been fraught with controversy thanks to a scandalous past brought to light by a concerned conservative friend of Ken Miller, prompting Mermaid-gate and our third most-viewed post of all time.   Hill’s Mr Rogers-esque promotional video betrays no signs of his wild side, so thank you to whoever was responsible for compiling the sleaze (yes, Nancy Davis, I’m talking to you), effectively making Mr UN seem just a little more electable/desirable than he likely is in reality.  I will leave the family values comments to the Miller camp.   Twitter: Hill has yet to master the art of the tweet and tends to primarily post links to his own campaign’s promotional posts, which is not a recommended course of action, especially because his promotional material is so uninteresting.  Facebook: Hill is off to a slow start, although this is his…. third start? His former Facebook group “A Lot of Folks for Rick Hill” peaked at well under a hundred folks and his handlers changed course a couple of times as a result.  Long-time lobbyist Hill earns an easy grade of Fail for his inability or unwillingness to engage his followers.  His posts are boring and receive very few, if any comments.  I can’t determine whether his posts are his own or from his staff, but let’s just hope they were written by staffers.  There would then be room for improvement.  Overall: Hill’s filter, if applicable; is far too fine to allow any effective engagement let alone posts that demonstrate any level of creativity or wit.  This campaign- even with the added excitement of the mermaid- is utterly soul-less. Verdict: Over the Hill.

Neil Livingstone:

I perused Livingstone’s website and was only able to find a number of national news interviews about terrorism and a dreadfully boring interview by Montana Shrugged so I decided it was in Mr Livingstone’s best interest that I not post a video at this time.  Should his campaign provide us with a promotional video, we’d be happy to post and assess it however. Twitter:  Neil’s tweets comprise an interesting combination of terrorism discussion, cooking/recipes, and political commentary- some of which even is relevant to Montana.  His filter appears to be working properly and his tweets are somewhat frequent.  His recipes offer a glimpse into his personal non-national-terrorism-expert life although many Montanans still may be unable to relate- Morel popcorn, anyone?  Facebook:  This account could use some work.  Livingstone should probably link his Facebook to his Twitter and blog to streamline posts among the outlets-  otherwise it appears that his Facebook account is more of a recipe repository than a Gubernatorial campaign page. I’d also suggest posting more links and statuses that relate specifically to our state. Livingstone’s personal wealth alone makes him a contender but he faces many obstacles in gaining name recognition beyond political junkies and terrorism buffs- if terrorism buffs actually exist, that is.  Nearly a year remains before primary elections in Montana.

Ken Miller:

Viral AdsThe only shocking- or even remotely energizing- component of Miller’s video is found within the youtube view counter-  there have been 1,217 views of this gouge-your-eyes-out-boring piece.  Miller’s overall presentation is dull as is the content.   Twitter: If the Miller campaign has a Twitter account, I’m not aware of it.  This is probably for the best as successful tweets require a level of spontaneity and authenticity that would be difficult for a fledgling Tweeter like Miller to pull off. Facebook: Staff/TEA people regularly post as Miller on his campaign site, as evidenced here.  He engages followers minimally and generally refers those who have questions or comments to his cell phone.  He seems to be doing a good job at physically traveling around Montana as evidenced by the plethora of photos posted from each location on the campaign trail but to me he seems a bit reluctant.  Miller’s supporters compensate for his lack of energy, however.  In fact, one of them sent out this ambitious campaign donation solicitation, complete with a conspiracy theory theme.  Overall: Before utilizing the above-mentioned filter, his campaign should instead employ the use of spell-check.  Considering his lengthy political history, I’m rather surprised by his selection of a rabid tea person as a campaign site administrator.  Engagement with voters is important, even when the issue at hand isn’t one Governor Jan Brewer supports- Miller failed to effectively respond to medical cannabis patients’ questions at a recent event at a gun shooting facility- his wife Peggy instead forcibly interfered with the video recording of his responses.  Miller has much to learn in the world of social media, but with God on his side, he should have no problems.

Corey Stapleton

Viral Ads: Stapleton’s piece is by far the best and I love that it isn’t bloated or ego-driven. This edgy promotional material is consistent with earlier photos released by his camp and it is apparent that he has employed a team of talented individuals to head up his marketing. This video was released last night, but already has over 100 views on youtube and more on Facebook. Twitter: Although Stapleton’s tweets are interesting-  like this one: “Gov Schweitzer wants to sell MT’s coal to China and solve their energy shortages. I want to sell MT’s coal to America, and solve our own.”, they are infrequent.  There is room for improvement here- more in numbers than content.  Facebook: Over 4000 people “like” his page compared to Hill’s paltry 345 and Miller’s 1017.  Little investigation is required to determine why he has 4 times the number of Facebook fans either-  his wall is a pleasant mix of thought-provoking questions and statements with a few personal touches here and there. Stapleton seems accessible and his friends appear engaged.  Stapleton isn’t afraid to make controversial statements and the ensuing debates with his friends are polite and rational.   Overall: Stapleton wins. He appears to handle his own social media (or he’d likely have far more tweets under his belt) and I thankfully wasn’t able to locate any post likely to be written by James Knox.  Friends are engaged, posts are witty, creative and a bit dangerous.

America’s Enemy Protectors


Whenever I think that America is by and large too intelligent to accept our federal government’s propaganda, another Facebook friend will remind me that I’m mistaken.  Last week, Ron Paul and Barney Frank introduced HR 2306, legislation to remove marijuana from federal regulation,  allowing individual states to create their own laws governing the plant’s use, cultivation, and sale.  The bill is obviously rather controversial and my Facebook news feed indicated that I had plenty of close-minded pals who were content to accept what ever current truth the government was peddling.

It’s illegal! It is a schedule I substance! It is a gateway drug! It is dangerous and addictive! It is immoral! I find it absolutely abhorrent that anyone places their trust in government.  Are you aware…..

Your government lies to you.  Period.  Regardless of political affiliation, our government serves to feed itself, certainly not to protect us.  We need to stop the partisan bickering and realize that our own government is the enemy.  We are overcriminalizing to justify expansion of law enforcement and tax increases while losing the fundamental liberties our nation was founded upon…. and yet Americans accept it.  Where is the public outcry?

Every 30 seconds another American is incarcerated for a cannabis “crime”.  Yet, in legislative hearings and court proceedings, so many of us blindly accept the words of narcotics officers as truthful.  Mark Long, for instance; is Montana’s Narcotics Bureau Chief.  Although that is his official fancy title, he often testifies on behalf of the Montana Narcotics Officers Association, a non-profit organization of law enforcement officers who aren’t even required to reside in Montana whose mission includes the statement “It is imperative that we, as law enforcement officers, have a better communication network than that of the people we deal with.” I suppose that is referring to criminals? Can we really trust that Mark Long would be honest? Especially considering the likelihood that a large portion of his friends, members of the association he represents would be unemployed as a result of rescheduling or decriminalizing cannabis?  If cannabis providers aren’t seen as credible witnesses because of their “profit-driven industry”, why are officers like Mark Long? Don’t we all protect our own interests?  Doing so, however; under the guise of public safety is inherently wrong and shouldn’t necessarily provide any appearance of truth in a courtroom- or anywhere for that matter.  Working for the government should not make anyone a more credible witness.

Mark Long recently spoke to the Gallatin County Republican Women about the rise in crime rates since Montanans approved the use of medical marijuana in the state in 2004.  A short time later, a preliminary injunction hearing was held on Montana’s new medical marijuana law, SB 423.  In testimony,Long clarified the statements he’d made to the Republican women, which were blatantly false.  He claimed that he was only referring to the increase in medical marijuana crimes in Montana since 2004.  Considering medical marijuana didn’t exist prior to that time in Montana….. hmm. OK.  Mark Long’s postition provides him immediate credibility with a bulk of Montana’s voters, but why is that?

Stockholm Syndrome. The abusive are masterful. They are doing this for our own good, who knows better than the almighty federal government?  The government is addicted to its own bloated budgets.  The self-righteous hypocrites trample the US Constitution while shouting that they are upholding it. In a world where alcoholics and pill addicts thrive, cannabis users are criminals.  The people least able to defend themselves, the ill; are forced to live in fear of their own protectors. The government propaganda machine is so refined that even highly intelligent individuals are lulled into surrendering their rights. Question authority.  It isn’t unpatriotic, it is American.  When we accept  what “authority” claims to be true without demanding proof, we betray not only ourselves, but all of mankind.


Pardon me, media…. your bias is showing


Thomas Jefferson once said,

“The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing, but newspapers.”

Jefferson’s assessment certainly rings true in Montana, especially when regarding the growing controversy of Montana’s medical marijuana industry and the 62nd legislature’s de facto repeal of a citizen’s initiative legalizing medical use of cannabis.  Irresponsible and disrespectful newspaper headlines continue to read “Medical pot industry group asks judge to halt law“, “Arguments to conclude in medical pot hearing“, We didn’t elect GOP to ax medical pot“, you get the hint.   Is it so difficult to call it “cannabis”? I can’t recall seeing headlines in the same publications crying “Mr. Smith arrested for slinging oxy/dillies/percs/80s/beans/ludes” or “Dr. Doe raided after shooting smack in surgery”.  Regardless of how the media FEELS about cannabis, their job is to report the news, not exhibit incredible bias.

The media also continues to mislead readers with posts like the following, which was taken from KULR8’s Twitter account.

 

 

 

 

State Senator Jeff Essmann, known for passing the biggest tax increases in Montana history; continues to assert that his legislation removed the profit from the industry, effectively portraying the medical cannabis industry as profit mongering.  Suggesting that the new law makes cannabis providers non-profit entities is a blatant misrepresentation.  The new law essentially eliminates all providers by economically crippling them.  Providers are unable to accept any sort of renumeration for their service.  This means that providers are forced to give away their product, wisdom, time, etc.  Growers cannot be reimbursed for costs incurred with growing (electricity, security, etc), supplies, or equipment. This isn’t a non-profit marijuana law, this is  compulsory NO PAY, medical cannabis donation legislation.This isn’t an attempt to remove the profit, it is a bid to entirely eliminate medical use of cannabis in the state.

From failure to report the actual amount of money seized in federal raids of cannabis providers (in one case, the total was $600 compared to the $1.2 million listed on the warrant) to using slang terms and outright lying to Montanans, our lawmakers and media are complicit and should be held accountable. Do your own research, always question and never blindly accept the media’s version of truth.

Overcriminalization and Montana: Marijuana Mecca?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Repealing the “Black Market” Bill: A Preliminary Guide to Process and Procedure


Confused about the status of SB 423, Senator Jeff Essmann’s bill to eliminate safe access to medical cannabis in Montana? The following provides background into Montana’s initiative, referendum, and repeal process.

SB 423 Monitoring: Montana Marijuana Act Initiative Referendum to Overturn Law Prepared for the Children, Families, Health, and Human Services Interim Committee

Background

Within days after the 2011 legislative session ended, opponents of a bill that repeals Montana’s Medical Marijuana Act and replaces it with new provisions announced that they would try to place the new law before the voters in November 2012. The effort centers on a little-used practice in which Montanans may try to gather enough signatures from registered voters to place a law enacted by the Legislature on the ballot. If they succeed, voters then decide whether to retain or reject the law. At issue in this case is Senate Bill 423, which replaces the existing Medical Marijuana Act with more stringent provisions for individuals who use marijuana for debilitating medical conditions, the physicians who provide written certifications involving such use, and the individuals who grow or manufacture marijuana and related products. The Montana Cannabis Industry Association (Association) is sponsoring the proposal. The group hopes to gather enough signatures to not only place the law on the ballot, but also to suspend its implementation until the November 2012 election. How the Process Works The Montana Constitution allows for both an initiative process and a referendum process. Most voters tend to think of an initiative as an idea generated by a private group, which then gathers signatures to place the proposed law on the ballot. For example, three initiatives qualified for the November 2010 ballot — one to reduce interest rates charged by so-called “pay-day lenders”, another to prevent the imposition of a real estate transfer tax, and a third to change how some hunting licenses are granted. On the other hand, voters tend to think of referendums as a law that the Legislature passes but puts before the voters before it goes into effect, to make sure voters agree with the law. But the Montana Constitution also allows for a process in which voters may place an act of the Legislature on the ballot as a referendum if interested parties submit a petition that is signed by at least 5% of the registered voters in at least 34 House districts and by 5% of the voters statewide. The total number required is based on the number of votes cast for governor statewide and by House district in 2008. The proposal must go through the review process required for all ballot measures, including:                                                                                                                                   • submission of the proposed ballot statements and text to the Secretary of State;                • review of the ballot statements and text by the Legislative Services Division;                      • rejection, acceptance, or modification of the Legislative Services Division recommendations by the sponsor;                                                                                          • the sponsor’s submission the final ballot statements and text to the Secretary of State;    • review of the proposed ballot language by the Attorney General’s Office, including an opportunity for public comment; and                                                                                       • final issuance of the petition by the Secretary of State after the Attorney General’s Office has completed its review and found that the petition is “legally sufficient”. After those steps are completed, the sponsor may begin collecting signatures. An act referred to the ballot through the initiative process remains in effect until the election is held unless enough signatures are obtained to suspend it. That would occur if the Secretary of State certifies that at least 15% of the registered voters in each of at least 51 House districts signed the petition.

Timeline for the SB 423 Petition

The Secretary of State accepted the petition from the Association on May 12, starting the clock ticking on the various timelines for review.

. To date, the following events have occurred:

• May 26: The Legislative Services Division completed its review of the ballot statements and text and provided the sponsor with suggested changes.                                                 • May 31: The sponsor responded to the Legislative Services Division comments.               • June 1: The sponsor submitted the revised ballot statements and text to the Secretary of State.                                                                                                                                        • June 2: The Attorney General’s Office received the ballot language and text for review.    • June 6: The Attorney General’s Office asked the Governor’s Office of Budget and Program Planning to estimate the fiscal impact of SB 423. The Budget Office has 10 days to prepare a fiscal note. The Attorney General’s Office must complete its review by July 5. If it approves the proposal, the proposed ballot issue will be returned to the Secretary of State. That office will then provide the approved petition to the sponsor, who may begin gathering signatures at that time. Signed petitions may be submitted to county election officials until September 30. The county officials must certify the signatures and file the signed petitions and certified totals with the Secretary of State no later than October 28. If enough verified signatures have been gathered, the Secretary of State will certify to the Governor that the initiative referendum will appear on the November 2012 ballot and/or has been suspended. Petition sponsors must gather and submit 24,337 verified signatures, including signatures representing 5% of the registered voters in each of at least 34 House districts, to place the measure on the ballot. If they meet that threshold, they may then attempt to gather additional signatures to suspend the law until the November 2012 vote. Anywhere from 31,238 to 43,247 signatures are needed to suspend the law, depending on the House districts in which the signatures are gathered. If sponsors meet the requirements for either step sooner than Sept. 30 and enough verified signatures are on file with the Secretary of State’s Office before October 28, the measure could be certified for the ballot or be suspended before those deadlines occur.

To read legal filings thus far, click here.

To donate to this endeavor, visit the MTCIA‘s website.  Funding is critical as our legal dream team isn’t cheap.

Become the change you want to see: Sign up to help here.  Whether you are interested in being a county or house district captain, a signature gatherer, a notary, even if you simply would like to sign the petition, we would appreciate your help.  Our board, zone coordinators and committees are donating their already scarce  time and could use assistance.

I’m coordinating the Eastern Zone and personally need some help in the following countes:  Valley, Carter, Powder River, Prairie, Dawson, Garfield, McCone, Petroleum, Phillips, Fallon and Carbon.  Also in House Districts: 30,32,35,38,39, and 41. Please contact me ASAP if you can assist.  

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?

IRS

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.

FDA
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?


Debunking the Debunker: Jeff Essmann


Montanans this year have been subjected to extraordinary deception by their elected officials. The following bit of dramatic, nanny government style propaganda appeared in Wednesday’s Billings Gazette.  It was written by chief prohibitionist Republican Senator Jeff Essmann.  Debunks of his debunks appear in red.

There has been much media coverage lately of the legal challenge to Senate Bill 423, the new Montana Marijuana Act recently enacted with strong bipartisan support of 113 of 150 Montana legislators. A legal action was filed by the highly paid, hired gun of the millionaire marijuana growers to prevent them from losing their very profitable business model on July 1. A variety of claims have been circulated by those wishing to retain the “Wild West” situation developed under the ambiguous language found in the original act, which set up a system for people to access a product that is still illegal under federal law. It is time to debunk those claims.

“The point of prohibiting compensation to registered providers was to divorce the cash from the privilege of transporting marijuana around the community.”

First, the proponents for retaining the current mess argue that eliminating the storefront model, which allowed a “caregiver” to provide marijuana to hundreds of registered cardholders, will effectively eliminate all access to the product, as the cardholders will be forced to grow their own, which they are alleged to be incapable of, or be aided by a provider that is limited to a maximum of three cardholders, the “small provider” model.  No, actually, we call this the no-provider model.  No providers of services are willing to do so for zero compensation and a significant financial loss.  Cardholders WILL then be forced to grow their own as access will disappear.  Just in case a few independently wealthy marijuana philanthropists slip through the cracks to utilize this “privilege”, the legislature ensured they could only provide their charity for a maximum of 3 patients.  God forbid a do gooder do too much good. While the old model indeed allowed providers to serve hundreds of patients, an overwhelming majority of caregivers had a very small number of patients- typically only one.  If Montana’s caregivers were forced to become non-profits, they’d be elated.  Profits weren’t an issue in most cases anyway and in non-profit agencies, at least expenses can be paid.  Under SB 423, the caregiver must donate all equipment, nutrients, seeds, etc to the cause – the patient cannot reimburse the grower for their services, time or wisdom. 

Of the 14 states that have approved the use of marijuana by chronically sick or terminally ill people, five states including Alaska, Nevada, New Jersey, Vermont and Washington currently use the small provider model. I am not aware of any evidence that shows that the model used in these other states has denied access to the truly ill.  Montana’s medical marijuana laws, thanks to Essmann’s SB 423 is known as the worst marijuana law in the nation. OK, let’s examine this comparison state by state:

 Alaska: possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is actually LEGAL in the state.  Possession of less than 25 plants is protected under Alaska’s constitutional “right to privacy”.  

Nevada:  First and second offenses of small amounts of marijuana are treated as minor traffic violations.  Affirmative defense is admissible as well. 

New Jersey: Growers are non-profit agencies, not NO pay agencies. Because of its very recent inception, we have no way to know whether NJ’s laws will work. 

Washington: Although caregivers can only serve one patient, they can be reimburse and can GASP! even profit. Affirmative defense is admissible. 

Delaware:  Delaware became the 16th medical marijuana state only less than 2 weeks ago and is in the process of a one year regulatory licensing period before cultivation can proceed.  Using Delaware as an example is ridiculous.

SB423 does not prohibit a card holder who grows his own from paying for assistance so long as the adviser is not a registered marijuana provider, and the advice does not include the act of “cultivation” prohibited by other criminal laws. The point of prohibiting compensation to registered providers was to divorce the cash from the privilege of transporting marijuana around the community, for obvious reasons. Reasonable access and assistance are still permitted.  All “cultivation” is prohibited by other criminal laws, so this is obviously a ridiculous justification.  I find it interesting that Essmann claims that patients can pay for advice though… from anyone other than someone who actually grows marijuana.  I don’t think I’d take FREE advice from a non-grower.  As for those “obvious reasons”, what are they, Jeff? 

There is no constitutional right to access marijuana, although the plaintiffs’ pleadings can be read to make that reach. If the court finds that unregulated access to marijuana is required by the Montana Constitution under the “pursuit of life’s necessities” provision it contains, we may soon see similar claims for other controlled substances such as methamphetamine, cocaine, and improperly used prescription drugs. After all, the argument will go, whose job is it to decide what is medicine and for whom? Prohibition of alcohol required a constitutional amendment, so it could also be argued that there is no constitutional prohibition of marijuana either.  I’d hardly call it a “reach”. Marijuana kills 0 people/year.  Prescription drugs kill far more people than illegal drugs combined.  Whose job IS it to decide what is medicine and for whom, Mr. Essmann?  Since you took on the feat yourself, I assume you think it is your job- as a lawyer or a legislator?  I prefer to make those decisions with my physician, but attorneys are smart too.  Perhaps I will ask my physician for advice if I decide to get divorced.  

As of May 1, a group of 33 doctors in Montana has certified 28,959 patients, or an average of 877 each. Therefore, SB423 prohibits financial relationships between doctors and marijuana growers and requires the Montana Board of Medical Examiners to review whether doctors certifying more than 25 patients a year are following the board’s adopted protocols. There can be no interference in a doctor-patient relationship if a valid relationship does not exist. Of course, nobody cares how many opiate or stimulant prescriptions physicians write, after all, they are big Pharma certified. Don’t forget to mention that the law also discourages physicians from writing recommendations because they automatically trigger investigations at their own expense after 25 patients.  Sounds like as much fun as an IRS audit.  

SB423 dismantles the “Montana cannabis industry” but preserves reasonable access for legitimate cardholders to a substance that, I must remind everyone, remains illegal to possess and distribute under federal law.  I guess our definitions of reasonable differ.  I’ve suggested to my patients that they seek the advice of black market drug dealers who operate in dark alleys to protect them from our oppressive government.  After all, when state authorities cannot legally arrest medical marijuana growers, they simply hand over all relevant information to federal agencies. Don’t believe me?  Just wait until you read about the raids Lee Enterprises has yet to publish… or just wait for a knock at your door.  The feds have patient records in hand now.  Blame legislators like Jeff Essmann.  

State Sen. Jeff Essmann,

R-Billings, served as Senate

majority leader and primary sponsor of SB423.

The Federal Government’s War on America


The line between the “war on terror” and the “war on drugs” is blurring in our state as well as our nation. Only a few miles away from massive flooding, widespread devastation, and the impoverished Crow Indian Reservation residents who had nothing yet  lost everything ; our federal government is waging war on yet another state-licensed  medical marijuana caregiver.   Native Americans called  into radio shows yesterday to inform the outside world that several  communities have no clean drinking water and many residents haven’t had food in two days yet our tax dollars are instead supporting unconstitutional seizures perpetrated by a dangerous gang of economic terrorists, commonly known as our own federal government.

US House and Senate leaders have reportedly reached a bipartisan agreement to extend the Constitution-shredding Patriot Act after conducting shady back room meetings devoid of public input.  Although the votes were largely symbolic, both Montana’s senators voted no on Patriot Act cloture which passed 74-8. America massacred our boogeyman and through that process proved that we are capable of capturing and killing our enemies without trampling on the rights and privacy of our own citizens. Perhaps when Americans realize that the Patriot Act has been used primarily to rob and imprison American drug dealers instead of terrorists,  they will protest. Any doubt over which war the Patriot Act is actually fighting is erased after reading that in fiscal year 2008, 65% of all “sneak and peek” requests were drug cases and out of the total number (763) that year, only THREE of them involved terrorism.  The “War on Terror” was nothing but the vehicle for invasive policy changes to escalate our nation’s failed “War on Drugs” and 9/11 was the excuse.  No wonder the truth movement exists.

For those of you who don’t use marijuana and thus don’t care about what is happening in your country and your state as long as it involves cannabis, you may want to consider briefly what Ben Franklin said about sacrificing liberty for the sake of security. Someday it won’t be marijuana, maybe it will be your religion or God forbid, your firearms, but someday, YOU may hear a knock at the door from a heavily-armed team of friendly law enforcement officers who shoot your children’s pets, all in the name of public safety.

We currently  have a President who promised his administration would stop raiding medical marijuana facilities in states where medical cannabis is legal yet is on track to substantially exceed the number of such raids under the previous administration. Don’t expect such customary procedures as being able to read a warrant presented to you either- after all, you are guilty until proven innocent and will be treated as a serial killer until you are convicted- if you are ever even charged with a crime.  If you aren’t, no worries; the federal government will smash and grab as much as they possibly can, seizing every asset connected to you.   That way, you will have no way of hiring an attorney in your defense if the feds change their mind about charging you.

Montanans currently have a governor who “held his nose” to allow a bill (SB 423) he considered “unconstitutional on its face” to become law, thus expanding Montana’s black market drug market and eliminating safe cannabis access for our state’s ill.  Knowing the flawed legislation would likely be caught up in legal battles does not justify the governor’s inaction.  This battle will be long, difficult and expensive.

Montana’s legislature, whose members bragged about deleting the emails of cannabis proponents before even opening them sought to overturn the will of Montana voters countless times in the 2011 session.  Legislators scolded us for being in bad crowd, told us we were wrong in 2004 and declared that the use medical marijuana was similar to combining valium with arsenic .  Our leaders seized any opportunity to compare Montana’s medical marijuana industry to the  natural disaster du jour (Hurricane Katrina, Japan Tsunami) Our state is now faced with its own natural disaster.

Speaker of the House Mike Milburn: “We’re not talking about the dikes holding back the water anymore, we’re talking about how do you rebuild the city.”  This time, we aren’t talking about medical marijuana and we aren’t talking about Hurricane Katrina.  We are talking about Montanans in need- something Milburn doesn’t seem to care about.

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FEDERAL RAID in progress….. Hardin, MT


Still waiting for confirmation on this, but because the caregiver doesn’t appear to be registered with ASA, we are willing to post it anyway- admin.

“There is a raid in progress in Hardin of all places, it seems local law enforcement called in the feds. Not many details but stay tuned and be careful, this is not a storefront. Its delivery.”

And then they came for…..


 Editor’s note: This post was written by Elizabeth Pincolini of New Frontier Patient Care. With the exception of her use of the word  “democracy” , we enthusiastically endorse her message.  We will save the discussion of the evils of democracy for a later date. 

Democracy is under attack in Montana and we need everyone’s help to stop it!

This year in Montana, for the first time in our state’s history, our state legislature voted to overturn a voter Initiative. Int. 148 was voted in 2004 with 62% of voters voting for it. Keep in mind 62% is approximately 270,000 votes, in a state with less than 1 million people. That is a significant achievement and a true example of democracy and the will of the people at work!

Do you believe in the democratic process? Do you believe your state legislature has the right to supersede the will, intention and votes of the people in your state or any other? How do you feel about personal choice? Or the right to privacy? Do you believe people should be free to live their lives free from government intrusion?

Will any of those beliefs change when I tell you Int. 148 was Montana’s Medical Marijuana Act?

Our law was attacked by outside special interest groups based out of California. Politically timed federal raids, suspiciously coinciding with legislative votes, were deployed. Our state law was under attack and our legislators were helping to lead the charge. Senators and their wives, as well as State Representatives, chaired and ran this group that was opposing our rights and our votes. Their connections allowed them what seemed like unlimited access to lobby throughout the capital all session, without the constraints and the rules and processes the “regular” lobbyists needed to follow.

While our governor vetoed an outright repeal bill, we were left with a law that would essentially leave legitimate patients without safe access to their medicine, or even to a doctor’s recommendation. A bill that make providers provide medical cannabis for free, for no more than 3 people, after they are made to identify themselves to the FEDERAL Government as a provider, via fingerprint and background check submitted to the FBI. ( Yes, you read that correctly – to provide free medical cannabis in Montana you would need to tell the FEDERAL government you will be doing so)
(The full version of SB423 can be read here http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/2011/BillPdf/SB0423.pdf )

To help fight this horrible legislation and the blatant attack on Montana’s democratic process, the Montana Cannabis Industry Association emerged. http://www.mtcia.org/
This is a grassroots organization fighting for the rights of patients, providers and voters across the state. The battle will now be waged in the courts and through a voter referendum signature-gathering petition. This is once again, the will of the people at work, trying valiantly to preserve “…by the people, for the people…”

It is for this reason I am writing. We urgently need financial backing from all supporters of democracy.
Even if you do not live in Montana, the outcome of this battle may very well affect your state laws.
If we are defeated in our attempts to stop the overturning of a law the PEOPLE saw fit to put into place for themselves, it opens the door for this assault on state’s rights to be waged in your state as well.

This battle is not just about medical cannabis and a patient’s right to choose what they put into their own bodies. It is about democracy. It is about the will of the PEOPLE to make their own laws in the states in which they live. It is about stopping those in Legislative power from changing the will and intent of the people in favor of their own personal beliefs or those of special interest groups. It is about taking back our rights as individuals and as Americans.

Whether you live in Montana or elsewhere, please consider going to http://www.mtcia.org/ and donating. Help take a stand for democracy, personal freedom, personal choice, and the right of the people to enact their own laws and govern themselves.

Thank you,
Elizabeth Pincolini
Billings MT

Montana Raided Again by Obama’s Anti-Cannabis Thugs, Schweitzer and Bullock Silent


The federal government once again has invaded our state to enforce the  unconstitutional Controlled Substances Act, perpetrating a raid on Sleeping Giant Caregivers in Helena today.  Notably but not surprisingly, Governor Schweitzer and Attorney General (Gubernatorial hopeful) Steve Bullock have again remained silent, caring more about saving their political future than defending Montana’s ill.  Federal intervention is apparently acceptable to them, as long as it only hurts one of their  non-crucial voting blocs.

A search and seizure warrant signed Thursday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch of Missoula authorized federal agents to seize items that are “evidence of the commission of drug trafficking offenses,” including marijuana and hashish, weapons, transaction records and other documents and paraphernalia as well as up to 1.2 million dollars in the business’s account at Mountain West Bank.  Naturally, the case has been sealed, no other details are known.  Let me guess, the government will destroy the plants, keep the money and continue on to the next assault on America’s freedoms.

View News 5’s exclusive video here.

Watch the following clip, anyone recall Obama’s stance pre-election?  How do all of you pro-cannabis democrats like your “badass” President now? He’s on track thus far to FAR surpass the number of Bush administration raids which numbered just over 200 in 8 years.  The Obama administration has raided well over 100 facilities already with almost almost 2 years left in his first term. So much for those campaign promises. So much for that Ogden memo.

Across the nation, the federal government continues its attempts to intimidate elected officials in hopes of influencing state policy.  I wonder why it even tries considering laws made by states obviously matter very little to this gangster government.  Remember the last series of raids in Montana?  They occurred shortly before a hearing on HB 161 on March 14.  According to the public record (although it wasn’t correct), a hearing was scheduled for 1:30pm in Lewis & Clark County regarding MTCIA’s injunction against SB 423.  Today’s raid occurred just prior to 1:30pm.  I’m sure these are just coincidences though.

Regardless of your stance on medical marijuana, this concerns all Montanans and all Americans as all of our rights are at risk. Call Governor Brian Schweitzer at 406.444.3111 and Attorney General Steve Bullock at 444.2026 today to ask them to condemn the federal intervention and assault on freedom.   Governor Schweitzer has no problem standing up to the federal government when wolves are concerned, ask him why he’s been completely silent about protecting Montana’s ill.  Steve Bullock wants to be your next governor, I suggest you focus your attention on him.  Montana needs a governor who isn’t afraid to do the right thing.  If Bullock ignores the Montanans who are unable to help themselves now, how will he treat them AFTER he has their vote?

This guy wants to govern Montana. He won't defend ill Montanans who use medical cannabis, what makes you think he will defend you?

If you care about your rights and are able to attend,  I will see you tomorrow night in Billings- not at the Yellowstone County Republican Lincoln Reagan dinner, but at a fundraising and networking event held by the MTCIA.  Event details can be found here.

Shared by an Heir & Ensnared by the Share


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leading by Example


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Republican Rhetoric v. Reality: A Conservative Case for Legalization


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

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

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

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

State Sovereignty–  The Tenth Amendment reads

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

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

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

The hypocrisy of Montana Shrugged

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ken Miller’s Tea Stain


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

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

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

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

Friendship with the Scourge of Montana


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nicole French

HD50/SD25

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Trust of Montana’s Innocent


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Schweitzer too acknowledged the black market appeal of the legislation,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

President Obama’s Audacity of Dope


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

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

The White House, in 2009 offered the following statement:

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

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

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

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

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