They hate cannabis and canis lupus

by Pete Talbot

We’ll deal with pot first, which is being assaulted by Republicans and the media. 2008 Republican gubernatorial candidate Roy Brown had this to say about current Montana medical marijuana laws:

“… and when their peers in junior high have (medical marijuana) cards, it just sends the absolutely wrong message.”

Show me one junior high kid who has an authentic medical marijuana card, Roy. But fear speaks louder than facts at the Republican convention in Billings, and Brown wants Montana voters to repeal the law that they passed by 60% in 2004. The final language adopted in the platform came from Victor Republican Jim Shockley, which urged that the law be repealed or amended.

At least Gov. Schweitzer, the guy who beat Brown for governor, did a little research before opening his mouth. While touring a marijuana caregiver’s facility in Missoula, he said that although the law needed some revision, he didn’t like the idea of taking the herb away from those in need.

Our hometown daily, however, feels differently. Sunday’s rabid Missoulian editorial took a page right out of the Republican play book of fear with peripheral horror stories and this rejoinder:

Until the state can straighten out the rampant problems with the Medical Marijuana Act, Missoula should order existing dispensaries to cease doing business and impose an immediate moratorium on new shops.

I can agree that the law needs some tweaking and a moratorium on new shops could be in order, but existing dispensaries should cease doing business? Missoulian editorials of late rarely take this strong a stand — not on the economy or health care or war or climate change — just on pot.

On to wolves.

Photo: Kurt Wilson/Missoulian

Wolves aren’t endangered, kids in camo and their folks told District Judge Don Molloy. Elk and other ungulates are the ones in danger from wolves, said the sign carriers in front of the Missoula Federal Courthouse.

At issue is the re-listing of wolves as an endangered species, being heard in Federal District Court.

A host of other factors like loss of access, private hunts and game farms are affecting hunters. Include climate change and habitat loss and other threats besides wolves, and the reduction in wildlife numbers becomes a more complicated debate.

But you don’t usually see this crowd at wilderness hearings, environmental rallies or public access meetings. No, it’s the federal government these folks are mad at, as usual. They’re the Tea Party of the hunting crowd.

  1. Probably does not hurt to examine core issues: “Medical” marijuana is a nice step towards legalization in total, and I have no problem with that. But I understand that people cannot say that openly.

    And prohibition has a seedy subtext as well: Marijuana is basically harmless, unless being too laid back and saying “Duuuude!” too often in unhealthy. The supply is unaffected by prohibition. It’s everywhere and easy to get. Is it for the children? As every former child knows, prohibition merely adds to the allure.

    In my view, marijuana laws are a lever that law enforcement uses to control poor people and minorities. Blacks and Hispanics are nails, and marijuana laws are the hammer. And anyone who is white and even modestly affluent is in no danger of being busted for pot.

    • JC

      “Marijuana is basically harmless”

      That’s a rash generalization that isn’t always true. Marijuana is not harmless for some people. And that’s not an opinion. That’s a fact.

      “anyone who is white and even modestly affluent is in no danger of being busted for pot.”

      I know plenty of white people who have been busted for pot. One friend of mine just got back in town after spending 4 years in a federal pen after getting busted for pot. I know many, many others.

      The racial stereotype just doesn’t hold true. While prohibition and enforcement may be a way for conservatives and republicans to discriminate, that doesn’t give white people a get-out-of-jail-free card.

  2. I can offer up more than anecdote – your statement means nothing. Blacks are 12 percent of the population, but 44 percent of the inmates. The majority are incarcerated for non-violent crimes, i.e., the “War on Drugs,” for which imprisonment has increased twelve-fold since 1980. 22 percent of the prison population is there on drug charges.

    I did not say that no whites are imprisoned. I claim that the treatment of blacks is disproportionate, and from that argue that the effect of marijuana laws impact disproportionately on them. From that I infer that prohibition of a basically harmless drug (opposed, say, to tobacco or alcohol), for which prohibition is utterly ineffective, is a lever that law enforcement can use on minorities.

    You’ve said nothing to counter that.

    • At the risk of speaking for JC, I think what he’s pointing out is that your attempt at ‘getting to the core’ actually obscures the issues rather than instructs. Your hyperbole was over the top, and anecdote aside, JC was pointing that out. Yes, the WOD affects white folk too, as you yourself admit when you state rightly that it is a club used against the economically disadvantaged. With mandatory sentencing laws for possession, it is the case of having a hammer and seeing everything as a nail. The only thing the “moderately affluent” have going for them are better lawyers, and at that point, you left the adjective of “moderate” behind. Consider the growing wealth disparity between affluent and working class.

      It’s important to note those distinctions, because the racial argument simply doesn’t carry weight in the Montana demographic. If you wish to make a case for national racism being behind the WOD, I’m all in. That’s hardly helpful when discussing medical mj in Missoula or Montana as a whole.

      • I might agree with you concerning the MT demo, except that the state has a large Native and Hispanic population. Growing up in Billings, and I do not mean to hyperbolize, it would be safe to sit on your front porch on Poly Drive and smoke a joint, but south of the tracks you’d better watch your ass. There is no need for better lawyers if you are not arrested.

        And this all gets to my basic point, that law enforcement is unwilling to let go of this hammer for the very reasons that the hammer is effective, mostly in control of minorities, but of poor whites as well.

        • I might agree with you concerning the MT demo, except that the state has a large Native and Hispanic population.

          Mark, you’ve never been bashful about disagreeing with me. But if you’re going to throw some statistics around, please make them relevant.

          Rich, white, poor, red, black, young, old, Hispanic. The police don’t care. They have the hammer, and everything is a nail. I offer what you already know. The ‘authorities’ often attract the lower portion of our intelligence spectrum as prime candidates for needed service. Many times they are not exactly the brightest bulbs. They aren’t going to let go of that hammer. Ever. And stupidity remains colorblind.

          But I do have to ask. What does all this have to do with Missoula and medical marijuana? What point are you getting at, Mark?

          • You present as final fact the low-brow nature of law enforcement personnel. In fact, I know that police are screened and psyched, that they undergo extensive training for sensitivity to race issues, and that police departments try to put cops of the same race in their neighborhoods. You are much too harsh there.

            What happens is OJT – they are constantly exposed to the worst elements in our society, and develop mental profiles. It is very hard to maintain positive outlook on that job.

            So they begin to look to the people in larger society that are the same race as the worst elements that they must deal with. Drug use is percentage-wise the same among blacks as whites, yet enforcement is used against blacks far more than whites.

            And anyway, what does it have to do with Medical marijuana in Missoula? Would it help you to know that they are not really arguing about medical marijuana, and that those who want to shut it down don’t really care about patients?

            • Mr. Benson

              I liked what you said about the effects OTJ, Mark. See how that works, nothing quite black or white?

              BTW, “all or nothing” is an extremist view, and “nothing” is one end of the extreme. As is, “he’s either for us or against us”.

              • Wordswordswords … my problem with the Tester Bill, which I think you allude to, is not “all or nothing.” That’s way too easy. I have heard that phrase used thousands of times against people who simply won’t give away enough. More later.

          • Would it help you to know that they are not really arguing about medical marijuana, and that those who want to shut it down don’t really care about patients?

            No. I already know that. I don’t live in Missoula and I don’t use medical mj. Here in Bozeman, the problems are quite small. That doesn’t stop the right wing from using such topics to gain support. It’s a wedge issue. Why aren’t you all over that, if that’s your flavor of the week? Why are you so obsessed with the racial argument rather than dealing with the reality of what is presented? Could it be that Republicans, like Democrats, are actually the problem, and you don’t want to admit that? Could it be that I’m right and the worst thing you could do to a liberal is hint at the idea that they might be wrong? I’m sincerely curious here, Mark. You have no reason to be disagreeing with me, yet you desperately seem to feel the need. I haven’t disagreed with you, save over your hyperbole. Is that our point of contention?

            What’s your solution to Missoula’s medical marijuana woes, Mark?

            • klemz

              Why do anything? Of course there are problems, and they’ll be problems when the western States begin legalizing it outright. But the cure is worse than the disease. I thought that was the unspoken consensus.

              Isn’t the point to ease in because middle America is learning impaired?

              • Mr. Benson

                critically below average, see “america’s got talent” or “biggest loser” aka “foxnews” and “KeithOlberman”.

          • Don’t put Baby in a corner!

          • Anyhow, I haven’t agreed or disagreed with you, as per usual I don’t know what the hell you are talking about.

            It is a wedgy, isn’t it.

            Democrats are the problem, as they are supposedly the route to alleviating the problems caused by Republicans, and do not fulfill that function.

            And, of course, in case you missed it, my point was that pot laws are there to control minorities. Follow them back in history. It’s as plain as the nose on my face.

  3. Pogo Possum

    Regardless of what side you take on the medical marijuana issue or on legalization the reality is the majority of Montana voters approved the Medical Marijuana initiative to help seriously ill patients obtain a regulated pain medication. They didn’t vote to set up head shops in every neighborhood or envision traveling road shows where anyone who shows up with $100-$150 can get a medical marijuana card.

    From last June the number of registered users in Montana has grown from under 3,000 to around 15,000 today. The number of registered suppliers has increased from under 1,000 to 5,000. It is anyones guess how much higher those numbers will be a year from now. These are numbers a large number of voters don’t like.

    Montana voters are realizing that both vendors and people applying for medical marijuana cards are abusing both the spirit and the intent of the law. If legislators don’t take quick action, voters might find it easier to just to just overturn the medical marijuana initiative than try to fixed the long list of problems revolving around this industry.

    Montana’s Republican party is simply stating very clearly what Montana voters are feeling and saying. Either fix it or get rid of it.

  4. pogo is right. the carny atmosphere that has developed around this law threatens to wreck things for folks who really need this help. but to be fair i believe that most democrats, republicans and independents want to fix this. let’s hope something reasonable comes out of our legislature next year.

    • Guys guys guys!

      Politics is about lying. Everyone in politics is lying. All the time. What I find interesting is how you can only see it in the opposite side.

      And Rusty, you’re letting your sensitive side show. If by chance Wulfgar stumbles on you in this state, he will eat you while you are alive. You cannot show weakness on the blogs.

      • Politicians lying is one thing, hippies lying as they’re gathering petition signatures is something completely different.

      • Politicians lying is one thing, right wingers lying as they’re gathering petition signatures is something completely different.

        See how it works? We are interchangeable.

        • You got an example? I’m speaking of the issue at hand and how the voters of MT were lied to.

        • Sure thing Rusty. Have a gander at your court adjudicated example.

          Now considering that you are speaking to the “issue at hand”, do you have any examples of how voters were “lied to”? No? Somehow I didn’t think so.

          • I’m just following the timeline/chain of events, Wufly.

            The initiative passes and for a few years those who honestly needed it, applied for their “green card”. Fast forward to Jan. 20, 2009, President Kick-Ass takes office and declares that the Feds are gonna give pot a pass…and thus, here in MT, the number of stoners with backpain skyrockets…weird, eh?

          • See, that’s the problem with wingnuts, Rusty. They can’t stay focused. It really is like some collective ADD combined with fear of the dark-skinned furriner in Washington and an irresistible desire to punch hippies. All you’ve got is conspiracy theory and paranoia about President. What you don’t have is exactly what you’ve demanded and were provided, an actual example of voters being lied to in the initiative process.

            Your bluff’s been called, Rusty. It’s time to put up or shut up, little man.

        • Mr. Benson

          You’re offensive, Tokarski. Tone it down.

    • klemz

      You guys are being had by the daily newspapers, who couldn’t get the shake on local crime without a police press release if someone broke into their own building. You think the papers report it every time some pill popper robs a pharmacy?

      The problem is illusory.

      • Pogo Possum

        Which problem is “illusory” Klemz?
        The reported criminal activities associated with the marijuana industry in Montana or the public’s growing dissatisfaction that a law intended to help seriously ill people obtain medical marijuana is being abused by a growing number of unscrupulous registered users and suppliers?

        • Mr. Benson

          Gotta go with klemz on this one, Pogo. There are some LE people who’d tie the explosion on the deep well in the gulf to mmj if they could.

          Bottom line is that all drugs, especially prescription drugs, are abused all the time everywhere. The AG is even starting his Goobernattorial campaign on that very issue.

          MMJ can work if given a chance. And a big hell no to the email that’s going around, we’ve not offended God’s plan by passing the mmj initiative. Nor, I’d guess, was MMJ the reason Nature’s God tore the roof off the Metra.

        • klemz

          The latter is a real problem that is a product of the former illusory problem. I’m saying that the dissatisfaction is a reasonable response to a misleading presentation of information in support of a false notion that the medical marijuana industry (for lack of a better word) is in some way different and worse in societal effect than the USDA-regulated prescription drug industry.

          Republicans, police and conservative news outlets have y’all chasing the wrong Fox.

  5. Big Swede

    And why the hatred? Could it be that both wolves and medical mj were sold on false premise.

    Could it be that the voting public thought mj was only to be available to cancer patients languishing in their death beds?

    Or how ’bout the wolves? They’d only stay close to the park, eat a few game animals, and if by chance they stumbled into a sickly starving neglected cow and ate it- there’d be some govt. guy on your doorstep the following morning with a big fat reimbursement.

    Nothing to hate here.

  6. petetalbot

    I recently returned from Amsterdam. Coffee shops abound, where you can wander in and order various marijuana and hashish products off a menu (so I was told, wink-wink).

    This doesn’t seem to have dramatically affected the social structure there. I see industrious Dutch going off to work, mainly on bicycles. Their unemployment rate is about half of what ours is. They have this superb social safety net and an excellent educational system. Their crime rate is a fraction of United States’.

    Here in Montana, we’re going through growing pains (no pun intended) when it comes to medical marijuana but let’s tweak the law, not repeal it, as Republicans (like Roy Brown) suggest.

    • total legalization of pot for adults, with regulation as with alcoholic beverages, is the ultimate answer for most of the ills that this recent law has engendered. if it is legalized, the value of it drops significantly thus taking much of the darker elements out of it.

      it has caused much less harm to society than alcohol ever has.of course, just like alcohol, driving would need to be addressed as it effects the safety of others.

      our laws against it only create more incentive for crime and are costly to enforce.

      but until this nation is ready for legalization fixing this existing law to eliminate fraud would be a good first step to convincing people that marijuana is more about personal liberty and private choice.

  7. That Missoulian editorial was remarkable venomous.

    The “marijuana related crime” is actually prohibition-related crime. Only about 15% of Montana’s marijuana consumers have cards now. So, 85% continue with the black market. Which keeps prices as high as precious metals. Which makes cannabis a target for thugs and thieves.

  8. ladybug

    Senator Tester wants jobs for beetle chasers. There are more jobs in growing and selling domestic weed. He’s the farmer/lawmaker ignoring a growth industry right under his nose. Sales create income, taxes and reduces America’s dependence on violent foreign drug gangs. No bulldozers, no chainsaws, just a whole lot of clean, sustainable work for free-marketeers. This is one market Republicans want to regulate into oblivion. So I guess they really like illegal immigration after all.

    • The truly funny thing, ladybug, is this. Here the Republicans are screaming to high heaven for *more* government control and intrusion. And when they lose this fight, which they eventually will, they will flip 180 and start screaming about how the free market is being choked out of existence because pot is taxed and regulated.

      I haven’t seen an issue yet that Republicans weren’t for before they were against, or against before they were for. At least libertarians and hippies have the gentle grace of consistency.

      • Pogo Possum

        Apparently I missed the press release. Could someone direct me to the site where the Democratic National Committee, or the Montana Democratic Party, put a plank in their platforms endorsing the legalization of marijuana.

        I don’t see either party out there calling for legalized pot. I do see both parties in Montana supporting legalized marijuana for medical purposes providing it is properly regulated and limited to people who have legimite medical needs.

        If you have a quote from a key Democratic candidate running for office in Montana stating she/he is willing to introduce legislation for the full legalization of marijuana then I would love to see it.

        As a start, let’s ask some of the local Democratic candidates with general election challengers who are running for office if they support the full legalization of marijuana. How about it Bryce Bennett, Willis Curdy, Tim Furey and Sue Malek. Where do you stand on legalized marijuana?

        • If you have a quote from a key Democratic candidate running for office in Montana stating she/he is willing to introduce legislation for the full legalization of marijuana then I would love to see it.

          And that’s really beside the point of medical marijuana, isn’t it, Pogo? I’m sorry that your night terrors really aren’t of concern to Montana voters.

        • Lots of candidates statements on medical and tax & regulate here:

          It’s not so much the political parties, just the people, around 50%.

  9. Pogo Possum

    Wulfgar, put down the bong for a minute, take a deep breath, clear your head and pay attention to the conversation in the room. Problem Bear, Pete, Mark, Klemz and others included the legalization of pot into the conversation several days ago.

    • Yes they did. But you replied to a conversation that was about different things, and implied that Democrats somehow endorse, or need to endorse, your fantasy of what Democrats endorse. Ya’ see, I actually read, Pogo.

      You, on the other hand, don’t. Or you would have seen that I am not a user of the devil weed. It’s a small matter to you. You having a small thinking ability and all …

  10. Lizard

    i say legalize it all and let natural selection do its thang.

    • That’s not very progressive! I thought we’re all equal or something…wait, I get it, some are more equal than others, right?

      • Sometimes, Rusty, you have to just leave people along. Maybe you don’t like people smoking marijuana, but it’s not terribly harmful, so call off the black helicopters and relax.

        And if you are really upset that people are being disingenuous about the “medical” part of this situation, learn politics. Nothing is ever what it appears. Ever.

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