Although CI-110 failed to make it on this year’s ballot, the constitutional initiative did manage to raise the awareness of Montanans concerning the vital issue of ending cannabis prohibition. During my own time out on the streets talking with people about changing the law, I was able to inform the views of hundreds of people who initially were not supportive of the measure yet changed their minds after simply hearing a bit of the truth our mainstream media likes to avoid. Of course, not everybody was supportive; but there were far more people who were very supportive than there were people even mildly against the “controversial” measure.
For most people, Marc Emery pointed out in a recent interview, the drug war is over on an intellectual level. A point likely not lost on Michele Leonhart, whose job as head of the DEA is to justify their continuing war against cannabis. Or the hundreds of thousands of YouTube viewers who’ve seen her reaction to recent questioning from Representatives Polis (CO) and Cohen (TN) on the relative dangers of cannabis versus other controlled substances. Needless to say, it was quality entertainment; and probably more than a bit disturbing to the few prohibitionists left among us.
Beyond the continuing legal challenges here and in other states, Mexico and the rest of the world have reached a consensus embraced by the United Nations, International Red Cross and countless other highly-respected organizations: the drug war is terribly counter-productive. Some may still not agree that “legalization” is the answer; but at least they can agree the bigger problem we face is a prohibition which empowers terrorists and undermines the rule of law everywhere, while destroying countless lives in the process.
Getting back to our local situation: as many of you are well aware, Montana NORML’s Founder and Executive Director John Masterson is moving on. Before us now is the momentous task of filling his shoes, which is going to entail reforming our board of directors. Anyone interested in helping to guide and run this organization is encouraged to leave a comment and/or contact me directly via email@example.com.
If there is sufficient interest here in Missoula and other cities around the state, I also think it would be very beneficial to have monthly meetings in order to coordinate events that will keep the fight in newspapers and on people’s minds like it belongs. There is no shortage of concerts or other venues around the state featuring artists sympathetic to our cause. We need volunteers for these events and to start organizing some of our own. Any other ideas are more than welcome.
Montana First, the group that championed CI-110, will now be spearheading the campaign to educate the public on IR-124 and pending legislation for next year — which is briefly discussed in a recent article posted at tokeofthetown.com: MT Repubs Join Dems in Calling for New Medical Marijuana Law. It seems that one of the few issues both democrats and republicans can agree on is that our cannabis laws are desperately in need of reform (again.) So, no matter what happens on the ballot in November; we are likely going to have another legislative fiasco on our hands next year. Better preparation will yield better results…
Coming soon, I will have the opportunity to interview attorney and head of the Montana Cannabis Industry Association, Chris Lindsey regarding his pending trial and the future of cannabis in Montana. Lindsey is facing 90 years in prison as punishment for the time he spent advising Montana Cannabis on how to follow local and state laws. A jury trial is scheduled for later this year. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Just don’t count on an answer; for legal reasons, of course.
Finally, I have a question for everybody reading this — which I’d also encourage you to ask everyone you know about, as well (and get back to me with the answers): how much do you know about jury nullification, the right of jurors to disregard the written law on moral or other grounds? If you are interested in learning more about jury nullification and other jurors’ rights, please visit the Fully Informed Jury Association www.fija.org.(actually based in Helena!)
- Justin Michels, Montana NORML Deputy Director