I am writing today out of frustration and rage. During the first Board Meeting of the NCIA in Denver, I shared that medical cannabis was at risk in the State of Montana and that over 20 bills for regulating medical cannabis were on the docket. Please remember that the Montana legislature meets every two years for a period of four months, so any laws passed by the end of April, we live with for the next two years.
The situation in Montana has gone from concern to critical. A bill to REPEAL medical cannabis just passed a House Committee by a 10-5 party line vote and the bill is scheduled for a full House floor debate, Tuesday February 8th.
We have moved from a 62% voter approval on an initiative, to the House Committee passing a bill to REPEAL medical cannabis. There are two more REPEAL bills yet to be heard and more regulatory bills.
A group, Safe Community Safe Kids, and what appears to be the LDS church is behind the major opposition and their organizational roots are very strong in Montana. Obviously the funding for their effort is significant. The testimony presented before the Committees has been ludicrous, beyond belief, and the press in the State refuses to pick up on it.
This group tried to launch a REPEAL initiative 10 days before the filing deadline for the general election and received over 20,000 signatures, which, in a State with a population of 1 million, is significant. Their objective is to repeal medical cannabis, first in Montana, and then move to other states still attempting to secure approval. They were apparently effective in South Dakota.
While some of the opposition wants full prohibition, the majority of Montanans simply want regulation. They are being told it is out of control and there are no solutions. The return to prohibition needs to be stopped now or it could very well cross the country using Montana as the poster child.
I have attached for your reference The 2011 Legislators’ Guide to Medical Cannabis. This Guide was delivered to the all legislators, major departments, the press and the Governor’s office. In the guide, I address the issues of regulation, the facts about cannabis, myths and a great deal of information along with reasonable, although not perfect, recommendations.
Getting the legislators to read it has been a challenge so at each hearing on another cannabis bill, I hold up the book and give a handout on the specifics for that bill. An electronic copy of the Guide can be downloaded at here.
Senate Bill 154 will be heard in Committee next Friday, February 11th. The sponsor has so many “proposed revisions” that any outcome will be convoluted. I have written a revised SB 154. In it, I combine some of the best things from HB 68 (a bill calling for reform of the current law), parts of SB 154, and those parts of The Legislators’ Guide that have yet to be incorporated into any proposed bill, but solve significant industry issues.
I have asked the President of the Senate and the bill’s sponsor for their thoughts on how to proceed with my recommendations on SB154. My revised SB154 addresses, for the first time, the actual science of a plant, how it grows and produces yield, and offers the industry safeguards that will appease the general public as well. I expect to broadcast this version of the bill across the social networking community shortly.
Unfortunately, we cannot fight this battle without the help of our friends. I am personally concerned that the current professional lobbying efforts have been insufficient to stem the tide against us. We believe the Governor will veto a REPEAL bill if it goes to his desk, but the House may have the necessary votes to override. I should mention the REPEAL bill’s sponsor is the House Speaker.
Our fund raising efforts in Montana have been very difficult. Most of the industry is still reeling from business investment and cash is limited. We participated in a joint industry fund raiser in Missoula last month. While the net proceeds were minimal, the Montana Medical Growers Association has yet to see any of those dollars to facilitate our strategy. Those funds are still being held by the lobbyists.
I strongly feel we need a comprehensive advertising campaign to reenergize the public support for the Initiative they voted for in 2004 and stop this insanity. I mentioned to some of you in Denver my concern over relying on traditional lobbying efforts and that an advertising campaign may be needed and we might need financial help. Some of you have offered to help, thus this letter is not only to inform everyone about our plight in Montana but also to ask for your help.
Our goal is $150,000 based on anticipated expenses to be used by April 15th.
The Montana Medical Growers Association is a 501c5. Contributions to the MMGA may be considered a business expense. Please specify “Montana Patients First Fund- MPFF” in the memo section on the check. If anyone is interested in independently sponsoring any newspaper advertising, please contact me. Please send your check to:
Montana Medical Growers Association
PO Box 10628
Bozeman, MT 59719
Patients Out Of Time will be accepting donations as a 501c3 (charitable contribution) on behalf of the effort to save medical cannabis in Montana. To contribute, please visit www.medicalcannabis.com and “click donate”. Checks and money orders may be made out to:
Patients Out Of Time, Inc.
1472 Fish Pond Rd.
Howardsville, VA 24562
Please put “Montana” in the memo portion of the check.
Or call Patients Out Of Time – Montana at 406.594.7932
We have defense ads ready to run across the State explaining the need for regulation, that practical solutions have been proposed, and that turning more than 30,000 people into felons is not in the best interest of the State.
The compassionate care of the patients of Montana is at stake; any assistance you can give will be greatly appreciated. I have attached a more generic letter without reference to the NCIA for forwarding to potential donors.
Executive Director, Montana Medical Growers Association