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.

Highlights From Lowlifes: Montana’s 62nd Legislature


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

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

Washington Post: Rick Hill, Weak Candidate


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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

H/T Montana Cowgirl

Real Montana Scourge: Medical Marijuana or ‘Moral’ Majority


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

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

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

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

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

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

Montana Lawmakers Weeding Out Poor Legislation


One of the most ridiculous bills of the 2011 Montana legislative session was rejected in committee this morning amid concerns about quantifying impairment.  Members of the judiciary committee across the political spectrum (including Rep Ellie Hill (D-Missoula) and Rep Krayton Kerns (R-Laurel) opposed  Ken Peterson‘s HB33, which sought to criminalize driving  with ANY level of any detectable drug or drug metabolite.  HB33 was nothing more than a back-door attempt to block the use of medical marijuana in Montana.  A vocal proponent of repealing the Montana Medical Marijuana Act, Peterson, in sponsoring the legislation, initially may appeared well-intentioned.  However,  a provision making exceptions for legally prescribed drugs is evidence that this bill had less to do with public safety and more with control.  Shame on Rep. Ken Peterson (R-Billings) for his blatant attempt to force Montanans to comply with his idea of morality.

Medical marijuana in Montana isn’t prescribed by a physician because federally, cannabis is still a schedule I illegal substance.  Physicians in Montana recommend marijuana to patients they believe could benefit from use of the substance but this recommendation (as opposed to a prescription) would essentially prohibit legal medical marijuana users from driving at all.  Metabolites can be detected in some people more than a month after using marijuana.   The abuse and misuse of prescription drugs is reaching epidemic proportions in Montana- in teens and adults- and for some strange reason, Ken Peterson would prefer to have Oxycontin addicts behind the wheel than those using medical marijuana.

Obviously, nobody should drive while impaired as a result of any substance or condition (fatigue, for instance) but the mere presence of marijuana metabolites is not at all indicative of impairment.  Can you imagine the enforcement and legal nightmares this sort of law would create?  Essentially, eating a poppy seed muffin would be cause for arrest. Ken Peterson’s bills this session have led some to question his intelligence.

Ken Peterson wants to force his morality upon you

Montana voted Republican in November not because they approve of the GOP, but because they disapprove of them less than the Democrat party.  Sadly, many of the GOP legislators are spending political capital they have yet to earn which could ensure disappointments in 2012 elections.  Regardless of personal opinions on social issues, concerns about the economy and a looming budget shortfall should take precedence. Voters will certainly not appreciate  legislation motivated by the personal religious agendas of a few lawmakers.