Archive for the ‘Medical Marijuana’ Category

by jhwygirl

Updated below

NBC KECI news reported last night that Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg is refusing to cooperate with the Department of Justice investigation into the handling of rape and sexual assaults by the University of Montana, the city police and the Missoula County Attorney’s office.

You’ll remember that Mr. Van Valkenburg was “deeply disturbed” over the investigation when the DOJ came knocking back in May.

Some of you might be familiar with Sheriff Arpaio and his latest civil rights violation? The arrest of a 6-year old which also violated a Presidential executive order?

Most Montanan’s probably don’t realize the connection that both Fred Valkenburg and Joe Arpaio have..and if history is any indicator, Mr. Van Valkenburg might want to reconsider his relection bid for Missoula County Attorney in 2014.

First off, remember Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice? Not only is he heading up the civil rights investigation into the University of Montana/Missoula rape and sexual assaults – announced May 1st – he’s the same guy who’s been investigating Sheriff Joe Arpaio since 2008 for civil rights violations. That’s back when George Bush Jr. was president.

Small world, huh?

In that investigation, Perez has recently filed suit against Arpaio’s department for a “pattern of unlawful discrimination” by law enforcement officials.

Hmmm…

Leading up to that – keeping in mind the DOJ has been down in Maricopa County since 2008 – Perez has dealt with a very uncooperative Sheriff Joe Arpaio, having to sue the guy into cooperation. The New York Times reported “Obama administration officials called the suit the first time in 30 years that the federal government had to sue to compel a law enforcement agency to cooperate with an investigation concerning Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

Really?

Looks like Fred Van Valkenburg is gearing up for the same sort of lawsuit – and one has to wonder just how much his bloviating reticence is costing the taxpayers. Not only that, what does he have to hide?

Why wouldn’t an attorney cooperate with the deputy of the highest law officer in the United States?

Is this how a county attorney should behave? Why should I, for example, cooperate with Fred Van Valkenburg if he came knocking? Is this really the example of a county attorney that we want here in Missoula? In Montana?

And again – Where in the world is Montana’s Attorney General Steve Bullock on this DOJ civil rights investigation? Doesn’t Montana have civil rights laws?

I’ve also always been told that a county attorney is also a deputy of the state’s attorney general. If that is the case, what does Bullock have to say about Van Valkenburg’s lack of cooperation?

Bueller? Bueller?!?

And consider that last April Fred Van Valkenburg welcomed the feds into town as they came in a attacked the state’s medical marijuana laws.

Add him to that hypocrite tag, I guess.

Per the KECI report (make sure to watch, as Fred is in fine form whining about how he’s not going to be bullied) reporter Will Wadley waves around letters from both Van Valkenburg and the Department of Justice. Kind of a shame that he doesn’t link them on line. It’s not like they were one liners – he shows multiple pages with lots of little words and legal arguments. Would be nice if KECI would share that with the general public. I kind of think Fred’s letter would be quite interesting. Let’s see the guy’s defense.

Hell – Maybe Fred should put his response to the DOJ up on his website. Inquiring taxpayers want to know!

Still, Wadley breaks a good story – and I’m glad to have seen it. Frankly, I hope the national media picks up on it, too.

For Missoulians? This is your tax dollars at work. It’s also your vote at work, since Van Valkenburg is an elected official, accountable to the voters.

We’re in for a long haul folks – I’ve had numerous conversations and most people seem to be operating on an assumption that we’re going to seem some resolution to this investigation sometime in the near future – the end of summer…soon. If history is any lesson here, Perez is going to be coming to Missoula for many many visits…and with Van Valkenburg pulling an Arpaio on the whole DOJ investigation, the DOJ is going to be at it for years.

~~~
Missoulian reporter Jenna Cederberg has her report on Van Valkenburg’s refusal to cooperate with the DOJ. Her story includes links to the letters between Van Valkenburg and the DOJ.

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by jhwygirl

Dear Montana Legislators that voted for SB423:

You should be utterly embarassed by the court’s assessment of your ability to grasp the very documents you were sworn to uphold when you swore your oath of office. I’m talking about the U.S. Constitution and the Montana Constitution.

Frankly – this bodes quite well for progressive tree-hugging dirty hippies like me, given my own assessment of many of the bills that were passed.

…but I digress…..

District Judge James P. Reynolds hit ya’all on a whole list of things. I’ll just name a few:

1.) First Amendment, U.S. Constutition (right to free speech)

2.) Article II, section 7, Montana Constitution (right to free speech)

3.) Fourth Amendment, U.S. Constitution (the right to be protected from unreasonable search and seizure)

4.) Article II, section 11, Montana Constitution (“the people shall be…secure from unreasonable searches and seizures)

5.) Article II, section 3, Montana Constitution (“the opportunity to pursue employment…is itself a fundamental right”)

6.) Article II, section 10, Montana Constitution (right to personal privacy)

Boy – that’s quite a laundry list of constitutional rights violated by a majority of both the Senate and the House

What you’ll hear from them – or some of them – will be that “we had to do something!” and “if I didn’t do that, they’d of repealed it!”

Hmph. It was one thing to participate in the shit scramble party to write something up – it was an entirely different thing to vote for it.

Shame on you all. Each and every one of you.

Voters will hopefully remember this, as those lists of legislators that vote for this bill that many many people had said was unconstitutional and violated basic rights didn’t have any concern for rights. All they were thinking of was political expediency and gain.

If they’ll violate these rights – and really, do we really have to school a Republican-controlled legislature on the basic rights of a person’s ability to make a living? To speak and advertise? To be protected from unreasonable search and seizure?

Obviously we do. I say we school them out of office.

(Thank you to the Missoulian for reporting the story and posting the judge’s injuction.)

by jhwygirl

Congratulations are in order for Starla Gade, newly elected chair of the Missoula County Democrats. I happen to know Starla and she is a wonderful progressive and extremely effective organizer. I expect great things. In fact, I’m sure of them.

This month’s meeting – the Missoula County Democrats Central Committee Meeting – appears to be an example of new and great things. Moved from the normal city hall location, it is being held at the Union Club where they will be joined by members of the Labor Movement who will discuss the challenges facing working America.

The Missoula County Democrats Central Committee Meeting begins at 7 p.m.

Tonight’s meeting coincides with the return of Forward Montana’s Progressive Happy Hour, themed Weed Wacker: The Future of Medical Marijuana in Montana.

Progressive Happy Hour starts at 5 p.m. at The Central Bar & Grill on W. Broadway.

Democrats discussing labor at the Union Club? Sounds like fun times to me.

by jhwygirl

Word is that Sen. Jeff Essmann is preparing to add his name to the pile – and I do mean pile – of Montana Republicans seeking to the GOP gubernatorial nomination.

His soon-to-be entry brings the number of candidates on the GOP side up to a 6-count: Rick Hill (who will quickly reduced to “Rick who?” after Essmann’s entry); former state senator Ken Miller (going for a second shot after losing to Bob Brown in a 2004 run for the GOP nomination); Cory Stapleton, another former state senator; Neil Livingstone, some sort of national security I-don’t-know-what; and Jim O’Hara, a Choteau County Commissioner.

Essmann’s fame of late is authoring the medical marijuana repeal bill that Governor Schweitzer allowed to lapse into law. He met recently with medical marijuana advocates, and apparently it didn’t go over too well.

Democrats have two declared candidates: Sen. Dave Wanzenried of Missoula and DINO Sen. Larry Jent of Bozeman. Jent was quite the advocate for repeal, and in fact much has been said behind closed doors of his and as-of-yet undeclared Attorney General Steve Bullock involvement in the state-wide raids that still remain without indictment (while leaving behind dozens of damaged commercial properties.)

I’ve got a number of reasons for why I don’t want Bullock to run, but one I’ll put out there is that the AG office is pretty important and Steve has worked towards seeking beneficial solutions for Montana consumers.

Incumbency has advantages and energy and funds should be funneled prudently.

In other words – wait until 2016.

For me, I’m going with Wanzenried. I’ve been a fan for some time. He’s fiscally prudent and practicle. Wanzenried knows how to work across the aisle, and he’s gained a tremendous amount of respect from all sides of everything up there in Helena.

Wanzenried is also one of the hardest-working senators this state has, and his experience on the legislative side could go a long way. One of the larger errors of Schweitzer’s administration is his lack of active productive participation in the legislative process, especially when it starts getting all haywire. This session could have used some guidance instead of showboating – which, while showy and great for the camera really did nothing more than throw more divisiveness into the already toxic mix.

You simply don’t see Wanzenried playing into that. He’ll discuss issues with analysis and a presentation of the issues. That’s the kind of leadership I want to see.

Most recently, Sen. Wanzenried has stepped up front-and-center rallying against HB198, this last session’s abomination “Eminent Domain Bill” which hands private property taking rights to private corporations. Wanzenried’s also successfully pushed through the senate a bill to abolish the death penalty the last two sessions, only to have it die in the House.

In fact, I’m still wanting to write up Wanzenried’s statement on that ugly bill – and I WILL get to it one day. Sen. Wanzenried was the only Senator of the Missoula delegation to vote against HB198. (As for the house delegation, Rep. Ellie Hill was the sole Missoula rep. to maintain a “NO” vote for HB198.)

Want to get an idea of the name recognition and early polling on Montana’s 2012 election? Jack the Blogger over at Western World has some stats on the 2012 races in a post from back in February.

Footnote: When is the SOS going to update for the 2012 election? The list of candidates is still from the 2010.The SOS office can’t register candidates until January 1st, which answers my question.

By CFS

Since the Republicans showed their true communist colors and adopted the slogan “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” with the passage of SB 423 ridding the fledgling medical marijuana industry of the profit motive patients will inevitably suffer and the black market will invariably fill the void left by the current caregiver system.

I wonder what the Republicans think all these MMJ growers will do once they become outlawed… Sell their equipment on craigslist? More likely, these growers that have sunk thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of dollars into their business will continue to grow for the black market where they can actually make money… Tax free at that. These people are small business entrepreneurs after all, and they just need government to get out of their way.

Anyway, there is a great Slate feature that I suggest anyone interested in this issues should read. The article is written by a woman whose son suffers from a severe form of autism and the only thing that she has found that helps her child is marijuana. There are four parts to the series spanning a two year period of her family’s struggle with the disorder and how, through the use of medical marijuana, they have been able to live a more normal and happy life.

by jhwygirl

The state’s Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked on HB161, the bill proposed by House Speaker Mike Milburn, that would repeal Montana’s Citizen Initiative 148, which passed in 2004

Sen. Milburn is a resident of Cascade, a member of the Grand Old Party and a man working on his 4th term in the House.

We can go on and on about the evils of repealing a citizen’s initiative that passed (I hear) by an pretty significant majority…and we can go on about the evils of the refusal of legislators to actually actively regulate marijuana since it having come into law (that would be 3 sessions, folks)…and we can go on about the hypocrisy of a bunch of so called conservatives creating more nanny state government…AND we can go on about the hypocrisy of a bunch of tea party anti-government types who embrace laws that tell the federal government that they can’t regulate Montana-made firearms yet don’t want to let sick people take proven medicine that has fewer side effects than Tylenol.

I’ll just link you to this article in the New York Times which quotes Bozeman Mayor Jeff Krauss on the job and investment-killing side effects of repealing medical marijuana in Montana:

Bozeman’s mayor, Jeff Krauss, a Republican, said he thought there was an element of economic fairness to be considered in the debate about medical marijuana’s future. “I don’t think anybody passed it thinking we were creating an industry,” he said, referring to the 2004 voter referendum. But like it or not, he said, it has become one, and legal investments in the millions of dollars have been made.

“Somewhere around 25 people have made anywhere from a $60,000 to a $100,000 bet on this industry,” Mr. Krauss said, referring to the local startups and their capital costs.

“Now the Legislature has got us saying, ‘Ha, too bad, you lose,’ ” Mr. Krauss added. “Boy is that a bad message to send when we’re in the doldrums.”

I could of worked “Even MORE National Media Attention for MTGOP” into the title!

HB161 stalled 6-6 in committee. I don’t know if they officially declared it dead, but Senate Judiciary committee chair Terry Murphy immediately named a three-member committee to come up with “a regulatory alternative” to a repeal bill.

That’s a large order on a short notice (how many days left in the session?) but a whole hell of a lot common sense. And frankly, the Senate Judiciary might just be one of the only places where common sense even has a fighting chance.

I always did think the GOP in the Senate were going to try and bring a little bit of common sense back to this session.

Murphy’s hearings have been far less inflammatory than the House Judiciary (chaired by Rep. Ken Peterson, of Billings). Sen. Murphy even got a thank-you from Senate Minority Leader Sen. Carol Williams (Missoula’s Senate Goddess) for his well-run hearing on HB516 just yesterday.

That being said, let’s get to the other part….

What’s with Senator Larry Jent, a Democrat representing Bozeman for quite a number of years – 3 terms in the House and he’s currently working on his 3rd term in the Senate.

Jent was the lone Democrat to vote for repeal of medical marijuana. What to say about that?

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.

by Pete Talbot

I’m talking adverting here, not news stories. And I want to know what’s going on.

I saw my first medical marijuana ad in the Missoulian last Sunday. It was a little guy buried in the Territory section. Has the paper’s advertising policy changed or do pot dispensers think Missoulian readers just aren’t their market?

Med./mar. distributors have been a godsend for the Missoula Independent — full-page, half-page, four-to-a-page ads fill our weekly. So, I’ve got to wonder if some of the ad execs at the Missoulian decided to climb on the bandwagon and allow the pot shops to advertise. It’s not like daily newspapers are rolling in black ink these days (pun intended).

And what’s next? A pot spot leading into a Mark Heyka weather report? Med./mar. underwriting NPR’s All Things Considered?

There’s nothing like a recession to change a company’s policy on the kind of advertising it will accept. I’d love to hear from media reps, herb distributors or others in the know.

by jhwygirl

The Montana Medical Grower’s Association, in conjunction with Montana Botanical Analysis is presenting a series of lectures January 11 and 12th which will feature noted medical marijuana scientist Dr. Arno Hazekamp from the University of Leiden, The Netherlands.

Beginning at noon on Monday, the Montana Medical Grower’s Association will offer presentations of various topics of interest to medicinal cannabis patients, caregivers, and the general public including small business practices, tax issues, and legal updates. Additionally, there will be an exhibition area for vendors of products and services supporting the medical cannabis industry.

Monday evening, Dr. Hazekamp, a a world renowned expert in cannabinoid chemistry and analysis who has published widely on the subject of marijuana chemistry, will be giving a public lecture on the most recent research developments regarding medicinal cannabis and the treatment of specific medical conditions beginning at 6 pm at The Emerson Theatre, 111 South Grand Avenue, Bozeman. There will be a public question and answer session as well as a reception following the lecture.

On Tuesday, January 12th, Montana Botanical Analysis will sponsor a guest lecture featuring Dr. Hazekamp in the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department of Montana State University. Dr. Hazekamp will be speaking on the “Chemistry of Cannabinoids” in Byker Hall at 2 pm.

For further information, please contact the Montana Medical Grower’s Association at (800) 518-9113.

~~~~~~
Medical marijuana hasn’t been getting a whole lot of respect around Montana lately, it seems. Odd, considering it was legalized in the 2004 legislature. The Missoula Independent’s Matthew Frank recently did a story regarding the controversy surrounding a medical marijuana providers shop here in Missoula.

In the last few months, I’ve read stories in the Billings Gazette, Helena’s Independent Record, the Missoulian and the Flathead Beacon (off the top of my head) regarding medical marijuana. This IR story went into great detail how the Montana Cannibus nursery business is operating.

Zoning – or where these businesses go – is apparently a big issue. Whitefish recently enacted emergency zoning banning medical marijuana stores in response to a in increase in dispensaries – one which was proposed near local middle school.

I’m sorry – that provider appears to have been lacking some common sense.

All of that being said, it seems to me that Whitefish and the other cities “wrestling” with the issue of medical marijuana stores are overthinking the issue. Montana regulates the stuff as medical….so where do we allow pharmacies? What regs do we impose on pharmacies? I don’t see a medical marijuana storefront any much different than a pharmacy.

Frankly, it seems to me that by banning medical marijuana stores, Whitefish is circumventing the will of the legislature which legalized medical marijuana and made provisions for providers to operate….but hey, I’m no lawyer, right?

At the state level, there’s also some talk of regulating them as nurseries under the Department of Agriculture. That makes sense. It’s a cash crop. Determining its true economic impact starts there.

This past session there was a foolhardy (IMHO) rush to write laws related to carbon sequestration – and while I won’t lecture on why I felt that was inappropriate, I can’t help but wonder why Montana wouldn’t get ahead of the curve on what is clearly a trend towards legalization. The feds appear to be working on true legalization of marijuana.

Hell – it might be the only thing that’ll help California’s economy recovery. California has approved a ballot initiative for 2010.

What is they say? As California goes, so goes the rest of the nation?

by jhwygirl

Montana Agriculture Department has issued the state’s first industrial hemp production license – the first since approving it into law in 2001.

Federal Law requires a special permit to grow hemp.

Laura Murphy, who works for a Bozeman medical marijuana business, plans to lease some land near Ennis and grow the crop. She has no intent of obtaining the federal permit.

Interestingly, last week the Obama administration announced a new no-prosecute policy towards medical marijuana in states where medical marijuana has been made legal.

Clearly there are some significant distinctions between hemp and medical marijuana. Hemp has thousands of beneficial uses – medical marijuana, on the other hand, is a waste if you don’t put it up in smoke, so to speak.

It’s an interesting case on state’s rights, though – Montana even reaffirmed its committment towards industrialized hemp this past legislative session when it passed a joint resolution urging congress to legalized the production of hemp.

Both of those bills, btw – the 2001 law and the 2009 resolution – had overwhelming support in both the house and the senate.

Will the Obama administration take the same hand with hemp as it plans with medical marijuana?

I also ponder the parallels of this issue another 2009 legislative session law, Rep. Joel Boniek’s HB246, a bill to exempt Montana-made firearms and ammunition from commerce clause.

Disclosure: I am not fan of Rep. Joel Boniek.

Now – aside from the sheer lunacy of a state writing into law (or a legislator voting for, or a governor signing into law) a bill that is simply titled “AN ACT EXEMPTING FROM FEDERAL REGULATION UNDER THE COMMERCE CLAUSE OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES A FIREARM, A FIREARM ACCESSORY, OR AMMUNITION MANUFACTURED AND RETAINED IN MONTANA; AND PROVIDING AN APPLICABILITY DATE,” the bill was intended to directly challenge state’s rights via the every powerful-and-easy-to-scare-up-tons-of-both-press-and-cash on media magnet: Guns.

Exempting from federal regulation? Under the Constitution of the United States? Really? How do you take an oath of office to uphold the laws of Montana and the United States….oh, never mind.

2001’s hemp law, on the other hand, took the approach of not only legislating an affirmative defense for anyone who obtains the state’s hemp-growing license, it requires the state to petition the federal government for a change or waiver.

As the Missoulian article points out, the state did apply in 2002 to the feds for recognition of the (then new) state law. Montana was denied. The Ag Department is currently considering whether to reapply now that they have issued a license – but points out it will administer the law.

Maybe our delegation should step in here and ask for a statement from the Administration regarding hemp production? Given it not only had overwhelming support, that support in Montana has been long and was just recently reaffirmed.

by jhwygirl

Another piece of proposed legislation that has received a lot of attention is SB212, proposed by Senator Verdell Jackson. It sits in the senate judiciary committee having had its hearing last Tuesday. It was well attended.

This, too, the chair of the judiciary committee gave indication that he would like to bring to a vote sometime this week. The committee meets every day, at 9 a.m., in room 303.

You can listen the testimony by going here to download it. You must have RealPlayer.

There’s some additional information in this previous post.

Again – in order to survive, it must pass this committee vote. If you care about this bill, it is crucial to contact the committee and let them know your thoughts. See this post for a list committee members, along with contact information.

by Angela Goodhope

Robin Prosser was Montana’s leading medical marijuana patient-activist – until she took her own life last October. She also was a good friend of mine. I first got to know her when she went on a month-long hunger strike in 2002, to publicize her predicament, and I spent a lot of time with her over the years.

There are lots of reasons why I have been moved to focus my energies as a progressive political activist on the goal of ending the so-called “war on drugs.” Knowing Robin Prosser, knowing of her life and struggles, was one of these reasons – and I will forever be grateful for it.

Robin quite simply was oppressed to death by the government. The fact is that the “war on drugs” is really a war on people. It’s old-fashioned oppression of those among us that the government finds it convenient to dislike. It’s a war that’s meant to be waged, not won. Like the so-called “war on terror,” the “war on drugs” has functioned as an extraordinary financial boondoggle, spawning the prison-industrial complex and the world’s largest population of prisoners, most of whom permanently lose the right to vote, the right to college loans and government subsidized housing — even all veterans’ benefits. Our country imprisons more people for nonviolent use of drugs – mostly marijuana – than all of Europe, which contains more people, does for all crimes combined.

Robin Prosser suffered from systemic lupus for 22 years, a horrible medical condition in which her immune system literally attacked her own body’s organs, causing severe and almost constant pain. Meanwhile, she was allergic to most “traditional” drugs – and only certain strains of marijuana helped control her condition and make life bearable for her. That’s why Robin became an activist – she fought for the fundamental human right to be allowed to follow her doctor’s recommendation… without the added burden of having to fear arrest and prison.

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