Monday, February 14, 2011

Montana House votes 63-37 to repeal medical marijuana law

By "Radical" Russ Belville on February 10, 2011

I have been warning medical-only marijuana supporters for some time that the Achilles heel of medical marijuana is that it forces all cannabis use into a frame of “medical” vs. “criminal” and the line between the two will be pushed by the latter toward the former.  I’ve predicted that the 28% gap between those who support legalization of marijuana and those who only support medical use will haunt us when those folks who thought they were voting for 500 cancer and AIDS patients at death’s door to use cannabis realize that “ganjapreneurs” are exploiting loosely-written regulations to create 20,000 seemingly-healthy legal tokers.

Now the gauntlet is thrown down in Montana, where all that stands between the repeal of medical marijuana is a 28-22 GOP Montana Senate and Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

(KRTV) The Montana House of Representatives has approved a measure to repeal the state’s Medical Marijuana Act with a vote of 63-37.

During Friday’s legislative session, Speaker of the House Mike Milburn (R-Cascade) said that Montana was “duped” into passing the Act.

Milburn said that many of the people who have been approved for medical marijuana “aren’t the terminally ill.”

MT State Representative David Howard (R-Park City) agreed with Milburn, stating that “Montana was conned”.

Montana Caregivers Network's Jason Christ (AP Photo)

What could have caused the legislators to reject amending and embrace repeal in a state that supported medical marijuana by a 62% popular vote?

(Stash via AP) A search of the offices of an outspoken medical marijuana provider turned up 729 medical marijuana recommendation forms apparently signed by physicians with no patient information filled in, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

Several former employees of the Montana Caregivers Network have told police that pot provider Jason Christ kept pre-signed forms, and that information was used to obtain a warrant, the Missoulian said.

(Billings Gazette) MISSOULA — Medical marijuana guru Jason Christ, known for in-your-face tactics that include smoking a bowl on the Capitol lawn in Helena, appears to be just as confrontational in his business dealings.

People’s unpleasant experiences with Christ involve alleged website hijacking, a lease dispute, a reported bomb threat and alleged stalking and death threats. During their divorce, his wife twice sought and received restraining orders.

(The Missoulian) Jason Christ, perhaps Montana’s best-known medical marijuana proponent, faces an accusation of felony intimidation in connection with an alleged bomb threat at the Verizon store on South Reserve Street in August.

Two of the Verizon store employees got a restraining order against him following the Aug. 18 incident, after calling police to report that Christ had threatened to bomb the store if he didn’t get to speak to a manager.

Shortly after police left, Christ allegedly called the store again – but this time, the conservation was recorded. Christ’s first audible words, according to the transcript, were:

“Are you white, black, Hispanic, or what, so I can know ta call you racial slurs.”

Twice during the conversation, Christ said he was disabled – he has said in the past he uses copious amounts of medical marijuana to relieve the pain of hemorrhoids and Crohn’s disease – but he also threatened to “kick the (expletive) out of your store and break things and knock over computers and knock over stands.”

He ended that particular outburst with “(expletive) you, (expletive) you, (expletive) you, (expletive) you, (expletive) you, (expletive) you, (expletive) you, (expletive) you, you piece of (expletive).”

(Stash via AP) The Montana Board of Medical Examiners says Internet-based video examinations for people seeking approval to use medical marijuana don’t meet the board’s standards.

Medical marijuana providers in the state have been connecting doctors with those seeking medical marijuana using the web video service Skype.

The Montana Caregivers Network contends the video examinations are needed for people whose regular physician won’t recommend medical marijuana and who can’t travel.

(Billings Gazette) It took me eight minutes to get a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana.

Jason Christ thinks I waited too long.

My eight-minute conversation with a doctor over Skype, an Internet video-communication program, was unnecessarily long, Christ said.

“It sounds like it was pretty thorough,” he said after I described it to him. “It’s not really necessary to have a doctor who does an in-depth evaluation, like an hour-long evaluation.”

(KFBB) Jason Christ of the Montana Caregivers Network has never been shy when it comes to his advocacy for medical marijuana.

“What we’re seeing here is a direct result of backlash that was incited by things like Jason Christ’s cannabis caravan clinics on steroids as well as his own personal behavior,” says Tom Daubert from Patients and Families United on January 13th, 2011.

Christ’s response to the comments made in the media are, “there’s a lot of comments about people who are public figures, it happens all the time. It’s nothing new.”

During interim committee meetings this summer on the issue, Christ could often be found “toking” up right outside the Capitol. “I do not believe, I do not comprehend how a single person still has ruined it for everybody, I’ve heard that from a few, very vocal medical marijuana proponents and they’re simply wrong. The situation speaks for itself,” says Christ.

I think I mis-phrased the question: Who could have caused the legislators to reject amending and embrace repeal in a state that supported medical marijuana by a 62% popular vote?

It’s not too late – get involved!  Since 1973, when Oregon became the first state to decriminalize, there have been twelve states that have decriminalized marijuana laws by votes of the people (through initiative or legislature*) and fifteen states and DC that have legalized medical use of cannabis.  None of these states have ever repealed or even scaled back these reforms and some states, like Oregon, have significantly expanded their programs.  Repeal in Montana would be the first marijuana reform state ever lost in 40 years of Drug War.

Join up with Montana NORML and Montana Patients & Families United to save medical marijuana in Montana!

Contact Gov. Schweitzer here and tell him if the Senate passes this repeal, only his veto will keep nearly 30,000 Montanans from becoming criminals overnight:

Governor Brian D. Schweitzer
Office of the Governor
Montana State Capitol Bldg.
P.O. Box 200801
Helena MT 59620-0801
(406) 444-3111, FAX (406) 444-5529

*Alaska decriminalized marijuana in 1975 via Supreme Court decision Ravin v. Alaska which recognized an Alaskan constitutional privacy right to possess marijuana in the home.  Alaskans re-criminalized by initiative in 1990 which was then decriminalized again in 2003 when that initiative was declared unconstitutional.  So the people of Alaska, technically speaking, never voted to reform their marijuana laws.


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