Another Single Issue Revolt

by lizard

I didn’t want to derail jhwygirl’s post taking Bullock to task for his political calculation to win an election, but this post is along the same lines, looking at another single issue revolt that may play some role in how some Montanans decide to vote: medical marijuana.

Bullock may get a bit scraped by how he’s essentially shrugged his shoulders as the Feds came blowing in to bust a bunch of Montanans who thought they were operating within state law (and some who were not).

Pam Bucy may also not receive potential support for her role in opposing SB 326 as a spokesperson for the Montana Police Protective Association.

To show the kind of anger that exists out there, below the fold there’s a letter by Shane “Moose” Combs, of Helena, which was recently published in the Indy. I don’t share the same degree of anger because it doesn’t affect me personally. I don’t know anyone with the degree of need some people truly have, so I don’t feel viscerally betrayed by the politicians that had an opportunity to fix something instead of fuck it up worse.

That said, it is something I’m going to be thinking about when I vote.

It’s the medical marijuana issue, stupid.

A year ago, there were more than 30,000 marijuana patients, 5,000 growers (most helping fewer than three patients) and who knows how many close relatives and friends of these patients. Today, all have been betrayed by the state and federal governments. Most are now unwilling even to be named on a state list of registered patients.

But all will vote, and few will ever again vote for any candidate who doesn’t speak and act to end our nation’s horribly failed war on marijuana users.

Six years ago, Jon Tester won by only about 3,000 votes. More than 2,000 of these likely came from the new voters in Missoula County who had registered to support a county initiative to recommend making adult marijuana possession the lowest law enforcement priority.

Federal raids of state-licensed medical marijuana producers, coupled with the extremism of the state legislature last year, decimated hundreds of farming jobs and brought renewed misery to the lives of thousands of sincere Montana patients. The petitioning process for a referendum on the legislature’s repeal of medical marijuana led 5,000 more new voters to register last summer. All of them are furious over this issue, and more are registering now to support an amendment to the state constitution on marijuana.

No one expected Tester to end the federal war on marijuana patients and their providers. No one expected him to single-handedly force the federal government to adopt an intellectually honest policy based on science. But when federal agencies zoomed into Montana and on a single day raided the Montana equivalent of more than 900 raids in California, we did expect him to at least say something supportive. When he says nothing, even in the face of dozens of federal prosecutions, in which no amount of honorable adherence to the state law can even be mentioned in court, then Montana patients and their friends and relatives cannot forgive or forget.

Shame on Sens. Tester and Max Baucus and Rep. Denny Rehberg. Shame on all of them for doing and saying absolutely nothing to defend honest Montanans against exactly the kind of overzealous police-state federal government that Thomas Jefferson and the founding fathers warned against.

Then there’s Attorney General Steve Bullock, who sold the state’s patients and their loved ones down the river in numerous ways. He refused to effectively enforce the law voters had adopted. He refused to help develop stricter rules that patient leaders and the health department sought, and again said and did nothing when the federal raids came. Many of us believe he had a hand in making the raids happen, to take a controversy off the table to clear the way for his next political ambition. And now he expects Montanans to trust that he will fight to defend all of us, as governor?

Gov. Brian Schweitzer is no better. He vetoed the first repeal bill, but he could have done so much over the years to help make the voter-passed medical marijuana law work smoothly, and he refused as well. Marijuana may not have been too hot for him to handle when he smoked it in college, but as governor, he cowered from the political heat of it, watched and allowed it to die. That’s not leadership. It’s cowardice. It’s not Montana values, either.

Many, many thousands of us will never again vote for any candidate who doesn’t speak and act to defend basic patient rights and to reform old-fashioned, cruel and failed drug policies. This may bring short-term electoral chaos since there are almost no Republicans we can support either, but we will stick with it for years to come. This November will see the beginning of a sustained and growing single-issue voter movement for marijuana reform, and we won’t stop until the insanity ends. We owe this much to our fallen comrades, now in federal prison, and our fallen patients, some now dead and others suffering unnecessarily. In the words of the Occupy movement: We will not forgive. We will not forget. Expect us.

  1. Single issue? I identified TWO issues pointing to my disgust with Bullock. You must not have read the entire post.

    Then there’s the previous post a few days back tying him to party machinations & preselection.

    • lizard19

      yes j-girl, I read your post. did you read mine?

      I said you were taking him to task for his political calculations, not that this was a single issue for you specifically.

      but this “dust storm” or, in my words, “revolt”, is something you address specifically, because there are others writing about this, like D. Gregory, who are saying this single issue is a deal breaker. that’s why I said this post was “along the same lines” as yours. it wasn’t my intention to imply this is a single issue deal for you.

      I hope that clears that up.

      also, the backlash against folks like D. Gregory by the party “policers” are using the “single issue” framing as a feature of their criticism, so my title contains a small percentage of snark toward those folks.

      • lizard19

        I should clarify the “deal-breaker” is for the primary. Pogie reminded us D. Gregory makes that distinction, and I agree it’s an important point to make.

  2. Pogo Possum

    Bullock will try to deflect criticism by claiming this was a Federal action not a Montana action. The reality is that you don’t have 8 federal agencies conducting an 18 month investigation and executing state wide raids in cooperation with 22 Montana state, county and local agencies without the full cooperation and involvement of the Attorney General’s office.

    Bullock has tried to be on both sides of this issue when in reality he is in the middle of it as a willing participant. He repeatedly turned down requests from the legislature to offer opinions and recommendations on structuring new and existing laws dealing with the MM industry. He delayed requests from Montana County Attorney’s for opinions on enforcement of MM statutes. He also out right lied to business people entering into MM businesses who asked him direct questions about existing laws and proposed legislation that would impact their businesses.

    Regardless of which side of the MM issue one might take, it is clear that Bullock did nothing to aid in resolving problems and uncertainties in existing MM laws. A lot of this mess rests firmly in his lap.
    “The following federal, state and local law enforcement agencies participated in the execution of the search warrants and the seizure of the civil assets at multiple locations across the state of Montana: the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Internal Revenue Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Environmental Protection Agency-Criminal Investigation Division, U.S. Customs and Border Protection-Border Patrol, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. These federal agencies were assisted by the Montana Division of Criminal Investigations, and local High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task forces, the Northwest Drug Task Force, the Kalispell Police Department, the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office, the Missoula Police Department, the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office, the Missoula High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, the Great Falls Police Department, the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office, the Central Montana Drug Task Force, the Billings Police Department, the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office, the Eastern Montana High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, the Dillon Police Department, the Beaverhead County Sheriff’s Office, the Park County Sheriff’s Office, the Bozeman Police Department, the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, the Missouri River Drug Task Force, the Helena Police Department, the Lewis & Clark Sheriff’s Office, and the Eastern Montana Drug Task Force – Miles City.”

  3. mahmet7

    And while we’re at it, his environmental record on the Land Board favors industrial rapers and scrapers. A lot like former governors Racicot and Martz don’t you think? I know, single issue. My stock response: At least I’ve got one.

  4. UrsaMagick

    You said, “I don’t know anyone with the degree of need some people truly have, so I don’t feel viscerally betrayed by the politicians that had an opportunity to fix something instead of fuck it up worse.”

    Why not? You’re a writer, use your imagination! You do know, don’t you, how things work in a police state? First it’s them, then it’s you. I’m assuming that “lizard” is a nom de plume…

    • lizard19

      I’m trying to make a distinction here, Ursa. I don’t want to claim I possess the same degree of anger that those who are directly affected have, because I don’t. maybe it’s anger fatigue.


    As usual another great comment by
    Pogo Possum. Thr list of cooperating agencies defines cooperation quite broadly.

    Yes both parties failed the people of Montana on this issue. Diane Sands, Larry Jent and Mr Bullock joined the party of Himes and Warburton to overturn the law. The Governor did not veto.

    This and the battle over gay rights were both issues of authoritarians versus liberty. In either party and on almost any issue the authoritarians win, because at its most basic politics is now a quest for power. Both parties are radicals and follow the same ends justify the means rules.

    The two issues became inextricably linked in my mind showing up in the same nutcase filled committee where some of the worst of the GOP held court.

  6. bas el ariah

    Taking dope and committing sodomy—what a sick blog filled with sick people!

  7. Lizard, the far-left in Montana has TRAINED the Dem politicians that they can expect their vote no matter what they do or say. You can’t change that unless you actually start tossing out your DINOS.

  8. Fleischmann Jim

    Let’s see, Steve Bullock is running for Governor in Montana, and – surprise, surprise – he doesn’t support medical marijuana. Pat Williams didn’t support gun control. But he stayed in office for a long time and did us all a lot of good………

    • lizard19

      I know, some folks issues matter more to politicians running for a big, important office in a state like Montana than other peoples issues. and clearly, advocates for medicinal marijuana can go fuck themselves—a message both political parties can agree on.

    • Pogo Possum

      While I strongly disagree with many of the positions Pat Williams took during his career in Congress, I respect him because he was always clear where he stood on key issues. Pat was never a political coward. Agree or disagree with Pat, he wasn’t afraid to publicly take a position on the most controversial issues of his time and constructively contributed to the process of governance.

      Bullock, on the other hand, has been a disaster in the whole MM process. He failed to constructively contribute in both the interpretation of existing MM statutes and the drafting of new legislation. As the medical marijuana “health care” caravans roamed Montana with almost no over site, Bullock did little to nothing to address the public’s growing concerns as the numbers of registered card users grew by tens of thousands. He avoided engaging directly with legislators or taking a clear public stand and used his underlings to give himself political cover and plausible deniability. He intentionally sent out conflicting messages to both the public and to business people involved in the MM industry. While the Attorney General’s office in California at least made an attempt to send clear messages to people engaging in the MM industry to inform them of the real risks and intent of Federal drug enforcement agencies, Bullock sat back and let Montana business people invest their life savings on business ventures without comment while he worked with Federal law enforcement to put them in jail.

      The left may criticize Pat Williams for not supporting gun control (for which I applaud him) but at least Pat was always honest about where he stood on the issue. It’s still difficult to figure out just where Bullock stands on MM and he will undoubtedly enter the General Election claiming he supports both sides in this heated debate.

      Bullock’s lack of action and political cowardice over the past 4 years has been a key contributing factor in the current MM mess.

      • Steve W

        Fortunately, one of the unintended by products of states allowing medical marijuana was about a 20% drop in traffic deaths of drivers in their 20s in those same states.

        We all owe a debt of gratitude to those people who participated in the statewide cannabis caravans that led to saving so many lives of our young people.

        I would think all candidates would applaud this drop in traffic deaths and would support the legislation that was responsible for the good news! That is the question I want asked of all candidates and answered by all candidates.

        Pogo might point to the results and feel badly about the lives spared, but not I. Those caravans were a god send for Montanans who drive. Even if Pogo is unimpressed with the huge drop in traffic deaths, others are glad lives have been saved through citizen initiative.

        • Pogo Possum

          Now you are just being silly Steve. I never said one word about traffic deaths. Go pick this fight with someone else.

          • Steve W

            That’s my point, Pogo, you don’t say anything about the huge drop in traffic fatalities caused in part exactly because Bullock allowed the entrapenuers in the caravans to bring a needed and beneficial service to people living all over Montana.

            Instead you make that sound like a bad thing. What’s with that? You are calling for more government, right? Instead of the less we had? Why? No.

            It’s not you, Pogo it’s your philosophy I’m picking a fight with. No to your government intrusion into people’s personal business philosophy. Yes to saving lives.

        • RINO DINO

          What a despicable little worm you are, Steve. Pogo doesnt “feel badly about the lives spared”. Your saying that betrays all you are, and that’s a dishonest, hateful person. We all see that now.

          I’m sure there is a hateful worm blog somewhere, maybe with a western theme. Why don’t you climb on your straw pony and ride off to go spread your deceit and vituperation there?

          • lizard19

            Steve W. is a regular commenter, RINO. I don’t know who the hell you are, but I do know you are in no position to be telling someone commenting on a post I’ve written to ride off.

            Pogo knows all about picking fights, and is fully capable of managing a response.

  9. RinoDino

    You don’t know who I am? That’s the point, isn’t it, with “lizard19” and “jhwygirl”?

    • lizard19

      no, who chooses to write anonymously here is not the point.

      the point is this is not your post, so please refrain from trying to drive off a regular commenting contributor.


  10. Elizabeth

    RINO DINO SAID “Both parties are radicals and follow the same ends justify the means rules.”

    Both parties are comprised of the people who bother to show up and participate. “Radical” agendas and backroom deals occur in great part because of the vacuum created by a lack of broad participation. There are plenty of openings in party organizations, loads of opportunities for advancing issues and recruiting candidates. Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, I’ll bet there’s an opening near you. None of the above? Better acquaint yourself with ballot access laws and get busy organizing your own party or run as an independent (oh, and think about which caucus you’ll join).

    I’ve heard people rail against Milburn or Buillock for one reason or another, but they have no idea of their own legislative district or how their legislators have voted. Criticizing the “politicians” is easy, but it takes more energy to advocate, organize and persuade (though I know there are some of you that do). IMHO, this is where the Cannabis community has failed, we seem to lack a fundamental understanding of the process and only focus on short-term goals through issue advocacy, rather than long-term political organizing.

    Bullock may have disappointed some, but is Rick Hill really a better alternative on the Cannabis issue? Didn’t think so.

    No candidate or party is perfect, but at this point, these are the options from which we have to choose. If you’re not satisfied with that, you need to work to expand the options on the ballot. Voting against Bullock, or any other candidate, for failing to live up to a single expectation is neither realistic nor productive. Using wedge issues to whittle off chunks of constituencies that otherwise have broad consensus is an insidious tactic that keeps us from inching the ball forward, rather than making the spectacular touchdown single-issue voters seem to demand.


      Yes, it’s human nature to be single issue voters and only get involved in the process when your own ox is gored. Zoning and planning gets a crowd…from the neighborhhod getting rezoned, not during the time when the planning document is adopted. That’s where the parties win; they have a small group who always pays attention, elects precinct men and women, votes on platforms, etc. it’s going to be easier to change how we vote, with single ballot open primaries, for example, than to change human nature.

      People are so turned off by the nonsense from the media and the parties that our natural inclinations are reinforced.

      Finally, your call to get involved is 180 degrees from the message sent by the parties, or even the last couple of posts, where RINOs and DINOs aren’t welcome in either party in their quest for ideological purity…except, well when the parties are willing and required to spend $50K per undecided voter to elect a Senator.

      I dont really think Rick or Steve are different on this issue. Which means other issues will be the deciding factor.

      • Elizabeth

        Well, I guess I don’t know who you mean exactly by “the parties”. My local central committee actively recruited applicants to RUN for (not be appointed to) precinct positions. The state Democratic party set a goal of increasing precinct positions by 50% and we made great progress. If you think that Democrats are ideologically pure, then you haven’t been to one of our central committee meetings!

    • lizard19

      it’s a given that the other side would be worse. that is the threat those of us who criticize team blue perpetually receive.

      and the consequence of not supporting Democrats is aiding Republicans. that is also a given with our two party system, which is why threatening to withhold support from a candidate is an easy bluff for Dems to call.

      maybe weaker than expected primary numbers would be enough to send Bullock a strong message regarding the level of anger and frustration that exists around some of these issues. except Bullock already knew what the will of the electorate was regarding MM, as did the legislators who monumentally screwed up fixing the problem created, in part, by their procrastination and collective ineptitude. and still, nothing constructive happened, and then in come the Feds to ruin lives.

      the MM community probably shouldn’t risk hurting Bullock too badly though, because a Hill governorship would negatively affect too many other people in a lot of ways, and if MM supporters were a major contributing factor to a Bullock loss, I almost guarantee there would be a significant amount of hate and spite directed their way from state Democrats, and the issue will never get a fair hearing or constructive effort by legislators to address. they (MM supporters) probably don’t want to become a Naderesque scapegoat for Democrat electoral failure.

      one more point: the inching that has been occurring has been a general political inching toward the right, and that’s because, unlike the Democrats, Republicans actually fear the social conservative/tea party factions, because they aren’t bluffing. Republicans could probably be controlling the Senate right now if it wasn’t for the tea party shooting the GOP in the foot.

      and because most of the left are deeply afraid of the extreme right, it seems there is no betrayal they aren’t willing to forgive team blue for in order to keep the Christian Taliban and company from seizing the levers of the government they want to destroy.

      • Elizabeth

        Naderesque scapegoat…. oh my tummy hurts.

        But, case in point. I’m not convinced that “team blue” is more responsible for Nader’s failure to organize a sustainable progressive…. what, party? caucus? PAC? than Nader and progressives are themselves.

        No party or candidate is entitled to your vote. Threats and fear may be effective in the short-term but, again, not sustainable. I understand the feeling that “team blue” has left the left in the dust, but it’s just not always what I see first hand. What I do see is an absence of progressives within the party willing to speak up about Cannabis. You can choose issue advocacy outside the party, but it’s no good to blame “team blue” for not being green enough, if you’re not there to express your views to other party members. I think that this is less a betrayal than a lack of understanding. For me, participation is the road to persuasion. I just see a lack of participation as one of the elements that diminishes the impact of the Cannabis community. By all means criticize and hold feet to the fire. Just keep in mind that there may be opportunities that are not being pursued in the quest. Cheers!

        • lizard19

          the absence of pro-Cannabis participation is probably at least partly explained by fear of the Feds. the crackdowns that have occurred across the western states are designed to make examples of people, flex power, and put the chill on participation, at any level. I understand the reluctance.

          but you make good points about participation. I think criticism is somewhat cheapened without some kind of productive action or at least positive idea put forth, which is why I don’t swear off voting.

          anyway, thank you for the comments, Elizabeth.


    Well you just answered your own question, right? County central and state party are the parties. Who is vetting those candidates? Who picked Bullock? Who got Margolis to be the stalking horse after Jent took the high road? Who rides herd at the legislature so the party line is toed? And doubtless inside the flock there are differences apparent but to an outsider the birds of a feather all look the same. Same stuff different party when the moderates are challenged in the primary by RINO hunters. The litmus tests are applied by the committees and the run to the right and the run to the left in the

    Make all the assumptions you wish about my ignorance of the issue.

    • Elizabeth

      I’m not making assumptions about your ignorance. I’m saying that your assertion that the “parties” don’t want new members, dissent or differences of opinion is contrary to my direct experience.

      People assume that parties control who runs, but the reality is that the party can only offer guidance and support. The actual vetting, as it were, is simply to meet the statutory requirements for candidacy. Anyone qualified can claim any party affiliation that they wish. The parties have some influence, but zero control over who presents themselves as an R, D or whatever. If you think that central committees have anything to do with Bullocks campaign strategy, or who decides to run for Governor, you’re not ignorant, but delusional. If only!

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