Sunday, June 23, 2013

Schweitzer face of Montana cannabis rights movement

Brian Schweitzer has a weed problem.

The sometimes bombastic, wildly popular Democratic former governor, now chairman of the board of Stillwater Mining Company, has been expected to enter Montana's race for the US Senate although a recent interview with Roll Call seemed to suggest that he'd rather stay in the state he loves than live in DC:
Roll Call: How are you, governor?
Brian Schweitzer: I’m doing fine. I’m actually in Georgetown.


RC: Georgetown, D.C.?
BS: No. Georgetown, D.C.? God, that place sucks. Georgetown Lake. … Come on, I don’t want that smell on me.
From Greg Tuttle, Billings Gazette:
Friedrick Jozef Schweitzer, who is a nephew of former Gov. Brian Schweitzer, appeared before Judge Mary Jane Knisely and pleaded guilty to felony criminal possession with intent to distribute, which carries a maximum prison term of 20 years. Schweitzer told agents he was a medical-marijuana patient and provider and that the shipped marijuana was for his patients. He also said he believed the package only contained an ounce of marijuana.
In 2004, in defiance of federal law, Montana voters passed an initiated change to the state's constitution that legalized the cultivation, distribution, and medical use of cannabis. Last year, that state's earth hater legislature gutted most of the law and Governor Schweitzer allowed the changes without signing the bill.

Now the legal cannabis industry is all but dead in Montana after raids on dispensaries and arrests of growers. One courageous former caregiver, Montana Cannabis, appealed and lost a lower court decision upholding the federal prohibition of the herb.

AP writer, Matt Volz, brings the story using the malapropism "pot" to describe medicine in his piece published at the Lee-owned Helena Independent Record:
...Chris Williams is stepping up his challenge of the federal operation that changed the face of the industry in the state. The March 2011 raids resulted in the prosecution of dozens of providers, shut down their businesses and caused many others to shut their doors out of fear that they would be next. Several other marijuana providers joined his lawsuit, as did the Montana Cannabis Industry Association, which also is suing to overturn the new restrictive state law and is backing a referendum asking voters to repeal the law in November’s election.
This interested party has voiced frustration with Democratic Governor Steve Bullock, because of his public silence on the issue.

New Mexico, on the other hand, has been virtually free from federal crackdowns. Considered the most restrictive medical cannabis law in the US, that state currently issues 21 permits per 100,000, New Mexico's earth hater governor recently signed additional coverage for cannabis patients. The law was hammered out in legislative committee instead of being codified by the passing of a voter-written initiative.

It has been fascinating watching the fascist right haranguing President Obama for what it calls his "regulatory tyranny stifling economic growth" while selectively ignoring the Obama administration erasing a promising industry and effectively chilling civil liberties.

On what grounds would SCOTUS choose to hear an additional appeal of the Montana law if it gets that far, especially in light of the Court ruling on provisions of health insurance reform as a tax?

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