For those of you who haven’t heard, John Masterson is no longer Executive Director here at Montana NORML. We are sad to see him leave, but have great appreciation for what he’s been able to accomplish and has mapped out for the future. Though we live in trying times at the moment, it is a stark reminder of how much better things were already getting and can be soon. Once the beast is finally dead.
At present, our main focus is to help get the word out about IR-124(SB423.) The sooner we get rid of this terrible law, obviously the better. But, no matter what happens in November, we are going to have lots of work left to do educating our representatives on how to construct a workable policy. And the mission remains exactly the same: Montana NORML works to create a legal marijuana market for adults in Montana. How we accomplish this goal now depends on the success of efforts in other states and/or the growing number of lawsuits challenging the current enforcement of federal and state laws.
For the moment, our state law remains unchanged despite the recent ruling by Montana’s Supreme Court — due to an appeal filed by Montana Cannabis Industry Association’s (MTCIA) attorney, Jim Goetz. The case now resides back in the hands of Montana’s Supreme Court Justices, who have an undefined amount of time to study the rebuttal. Meaning the law remains exactly how it has been lately, until they make a ruling or we vote down SB423(IR-124.)
One point Chris Lindsey, President of the MTCIA, has been careful to make is even if we do succeed and return to I-148, things will never be like they were in 2009. The state has ruled on various parts of the law and decided to interpret critical details very poorly in regards to benefiting those who need access to potent medicine the most. In particular, cancer patients are not legally protected to possess or make hash oil and certain other concentrated forms of the bud. Rick Simpson’s oil, famous for shrinking all sorts of tumors and working many wonders, is contraband even for “medical marijuana” cardholders in Montana.
There also happens to be no tolerance under either I-148 or SB423 for crop or seed (or seedling) exchange between “providers” and no legal way to obtain seeds or plants in any form. Leaving a potential minefield for anyone who decides to try navigating either law as a “provider”/“caregiver” or even as a “patient.” For more information on this and other relevant court decisions, check out:
Montana Supreme Court Rolls Back Protections in Medical Marijuana Law
Here in Missoula, we are going to have a meeting on Monday October 22nd; 7 pm, at the Stone of Accord. 4951 North Reserve, one block from the interstate. Everyone is welcome. Itinerary will include the expansion of our board of directors, plan of attack for establishing sensible laws in the near future and the creation of a NORML sub-chapter at the University of Montana. We are interested in setting up public debates, more screenings of relevant films and other events that help spread knowledge on this subject. If you have ideas, we want them! Anyone who’d like to be involved with the most critical and fascinating political movement of our time is encouraged to join us.
Due to the ongoing legal battle over who deserves, versus actually has, safe access to cannabis; the MTCIA’s legal team is currently seeking people who have a clearly demonstrated medical need for the herb, are well-spoken and willing to “tell their story” in court as well as in public. If this is you, please contact the MTCIA for more information.
Everyone looking to do their part is encouraged to contact their local representatives and press, write a letter to the editor and inform people they know. And, of course, VOTE for candidates who embrace sensible drug policy reform. The Montana Cannabis Voting Guide provides a wealth of information on all of the candidates’ views regarding the subjects of “medical marijuana” and drug policy reform. We do have politicians who understand this subject and recognize cannabis as a vital part of our future here under the big sky. Many of whom belong to the Libertarian Party. In fact, their national platform states the following in regards to personal privacy:
“We support the protections provided by the Fourth Amendment to be secure in our persons, homes, and property. Only actions that infringe on the rights of others can properly be termed crimes. We favor the repeal of all laws creating “crimes” without victims, such as the use of drugs for medicinal or recreational purposes.”
This is not meant as a blanket endorsement for Libertarians and doesn’t mean our only supporters come from that party. Montana NORML does not endorse candidates for election to public office because we are legally bound to be non-partisan. Our goal is to provide you with the facts, so you can make up your own mind. Both the Republican and Democratic parties here in Montana have officially embraced the rights of (some) people to use this herb as medicine and concur that a sensible law must yet be craft. We have dozens of candidates across the state who already support the herb in various ways and dozens more listed in the voting guide who remain “neutral.” Meaning we have a real chance in November to get some quality representation for a change.
A few of the statewide candidates known to support our medical freedom include Dan Cox(L, U.S. Senate); Kim Gillan(D, U.S. House); David Kaiser(L, U.S. House); Ron Vandevender and Marc Mulcahy(L, Governor and Lt. Gov.); and Robert “Dusty” Deschamps(District Court Judge District 2 Dept. 2.) Attorney General Steve Bullock(D, Governor) recently said during a live debate he will vote against IR-124, which is a commendable act; but it remains to be seen how much the state’s current top law enforcement officer will truly embrace cannabis law reform. People are encouraged to contact his campaign headquarters to say thanks for the much needed support:
Telephone: 1 (406) 502-1069 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
While this evolution of Bullock’s position is undoubtedly a huge step forward, I am now personally torn because one of the most outspoken and dedicated supporters we already have is opponent Ron Vandevender. Whom I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know via e-mail during the past year. Thanks partly to his interest in a cannabis/hemp processing facility we’re hoping to open in the near future, once more fibers are being legally grown again throughout Montana. If you’d like to know more about this project, please contact me via email@example.com.
The point I’m getting at here is Bullock and many others have been supportive; but, there is still plenty of room for improvement in most of their views. Meanwhile, some candidates deserve recognition for embracing cannabis law reform on a far deeper level. The Montana Cannabis Voting Guide provides crucial insight on exactly what candidates have done in support of, or against, our medical freedoms. If you aren’t sure which House or Senate district you’re in, go here to find out. And please help us get out the vote, by sharing this information with your friends and family if you haven’t already. Time is running out!
Exploring new tactics for developing better policies
Moving forward with our efforts to end this senseless prohibition, I feel it’s important to reassess and continually refine our approach to the solution. There is no doubt our state’s voter initiative process gives us power, yet our influence over public policy is definitely not limited to a ballot. Jury nullification is but one example of our power as citizens, which has benefits far beyond cannabis laws. The below quote comes from the Fully Informed Jury Association (fija.org), based in Helena.
“The primary function of the Independent juror is not, as many think, to dispense punishment to fellow citizens accused of breaking various laws, but rather to protect fellow citizens from tyrannical abuses of power by government… Jurors can say no to government tyranny by refusing to convict.”
Even under our current laws, there is no room or valid excuse for our nation’s continued drug war. Particularly when it comes to the medicinal use of cannabis, or any “schedule I” drug for that matter. The big, bad Controlled Substances Act (CSA) itself was designed to protect us from the exact scenario we now face regarding medical use of cannabis — by instructing the Attorney General to either reschedule the herb or remove it from scheduling entirely (like alcohol and tobacco.)
Obviously, those of us who have been paying attention to what Montana’s Supreme Court recently said understand they currently see things very differently. Their approach is not to question our federal government’s continued enforcement of marijuana’s “schedule I” listing, period. What exactly this means for our rights under state law is still under contention, but it threatens to put thousands of seriously ill citizens at grave risk.
The strange irony here is that our high court may be waiting for us to decide the law in November, yet it shouldn’t even be up to voters or the court system to decide what is medicine and who deserves access to it. Not according to common sense or the CSA. We have doctors and scientists to guide us on this issue, the overwhelming majority of whom agree cannabis is quite safe, having relatively low side effects and great medicinal value. Case closed!
It’s probably not going to be quite that easy for us to get a sane drug policy on the books, but my point is all of the facts and even most of the laws are on our side. Their correct implementation is what’s lacking. More importantly, a clear majority of the public and mainstream media outlets have now said they do not support the war on cannabis users. Perception of “reefer” has improved drastically over the past few years, in particular. Likely due to the rapid proliferation of social media technologies (internet, smartphones, etc.) Along with it’s increasingly renowned healing capabilities, which include fighting many common types of cancer.
The brutal reality of our failed prohibition is quickly becoming known to the public and elected officials all over the world, thanks in no small part to the efforts of countless organizations and individuals who support drug policy reform. Education is working, policy change has become inevitable; despite what some prohibitionists keep telling themselves and others. Yet, the battle remains to be finished. Particularly here in Montana, where ignorance and misinformation amongst our legislature is staggering As shown in the breathtaking documentary “Code of the West“, which is now available to stream online. Here’s a list of the remaining screenings across Montana hosted by the Montana American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU):
Tuesday, Oct. 16
Red Lodge Carnegie Library
3 West 8th Street
Wednesday, Oct. 17
Miles City Public Library
1 South 10th Street
Thursday, Oct. 18
Glendive Public Library
200 South Kendrick Avenue
Tuesday, Oct. 23
Lewistown Public Library
701 W Main
Wednesday, Oct. 24
Montana Actors Theater/Center Stage Theater
111 Central Avenue
Don’t see your town? Find out how to host your own screening. Or purchase a $5 individual online streaming copy.
It is up to all of us who support drug policy reform, to stand up and have our voices heard beyond the voting booth. We need to bring truth to power at every level, using the various communications tools now at our disposal. This means calling elected officials (like the folks at Free Chris Williams are thoughtfully encouraging people to do), writing letters to the editors of local media outlets and using things like Facebook, Google+, Twitter and even texting to spread knowledge.
This is how we overcome ignorance and tyranny, by showing people why our failed drug war is no longer socially acceptable. Not here in Montana, or anywhere else on the globe. Prohibitionists need our public shame and people like the brave men and women of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition deserve recognition for their momentous contribution to our evolving society. Don’t be afraid of speaking out against the drug war, it is your civic duty to do so! But that doesn’t mean to be obnoxious either; the goal is to win over our enemies, not make more…
While our focus is clearly on what’s happening in Montana, some developing situations in other states and all over the world have a great deal of relevance to our predicament. Therefore, we have included a brief list of news outside the state, below; and will occasionally be providing updates on these developments through Facebook, our blog and future newsletters.
The House I Live In is another recent documentary on the drug war that is receiving critical acclaim. Several big names, including Brad Pitt and Danny Glover, are involved with the film; which opened Oct. 5th in select cities and is going to have screening opportunities available through their website soon. If you are interested in helping bring this film to communities across Montana, please contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org so we can coordinate our efforts.
Beyond our meeting in Missoula on Oct. 22nd, we are interested in having monthly meetings in any town with sufficient interest. Online meetings, like through Google Hangouts, are another possibility we are toying with. However, it may well be most effective to use conference calls like the MTCIA is doing weekly until the election. Your feedback on this and/or anything else is greatly appreciated.
Meet The Montana Man Convicted Of A Federal Crime For Working To Make Medical Marijuana Safer
A look at IR-124: medical marijuana on the ballot
Marijuana issue once again on the ballot
Convicted Montana medical pot provider asks for new trial
Roundup couple admits drug charges for growing marijuana
DEA: Complaint of visible pot plants spurred probe
Another man tied to Jason Washington’s cannabis business enters plea
“Code of the West” offers honest look at Montana’s debate over medical marijuana
Marijuana legalization on ballot in 3 states, but Justice Department remains silent
Aaron Sandusky Convicted in a Trial Where State Marijuana Law Couldn’t Be Mentioned
Medical marijuana and workplace drug tests
Medical Marijuana Patient Sues State of Arizona Over Tincture Use
Anti-Pot Legalization Ex-DEA Boss Won’t Reject Suggestion Obama Takes ‘Laundered Drug Money’