In 2012 when Steve Bullock was Montana's attorney general running for governor he failed to show up for the rights of same-sex couples to marry and for an initiated therapeutic cannabis law.
His silence on one high-profile case was so deafening that his collusion with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and other Justice officials could barely be heard whispering it in courtroom hallways. The jury in the case didn't hear all the facts because the judge sent them home after instructing them to ignore the medical value of cannabis.
Chris Williams was the only person in the case not to plea bargain but his former partners took deals and testified against him. Williams faced forty five years in prison, was found guilty on eight charges and was led away in handcuffs. He ended up spending some five years in federal prison.
Federal attorneys danced around the elephant in the middle of the U.S. District courtroom in Helena for the third day in the trial of Christopher Williams, finally mentioning Montana’s Medical Marijuana Act only after the jury was dismissed for the day on Wednesday. Williams readily agreed that he had formed a partnership with Thomas Daubert, Chris Lindsey and Richard Flor in the spring of 2009. But it was only after the jurors had left the room that Daubert, Lindsey, Williams and his attorney, Michael Donahoe, outlined before Judge Dana Christensen the full story of why they created the business and wanted high standards.Eve Byron revisted her 2012 stories in the aftermath of the case.
“This case is being prosecuted in federal court. As such, the case is governed exclusively by federal law,” Christensen said. “Under federal law, marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance. Federal law prohibits the manufacture, distribution, possession with intent to distribute, simple possession and use of marijuana for any purpose. State laws related to the legality of marijuana in certain circumstances have no bearing on the issues before you and provide no defense to any charge against the defendant as set forth in the superseding indictment. [Medical cannabis defendant tells full story after jury leaves]
Fifteen years ago, three men tried to create the “gold standard” for growing and dispensing medical marijuana in Montana. Instead, the lawyer, the lobbyist and the farmer wound up as convicted felons. The number of registered patients dropped over the years as various reforms were enacted. But that’s changing, too; as of Jan. 1, 2019, Montana reported 31,186 patients were enrolled in the state medical marijuana program. Although Lindsey is still active in the legalization movement, he, Daubert and Williams all paid dearly for their involvement in Montana's medical marijuana industry. Daubert said the fourth Montana Cannabis partner, Flor, perhaps met the worst fate. Flor died from medical problems in a Las Vegas jail during a layover in a prison transfer in August 2012, while serving his five-year sentence. [The lawyer, the lobbyist and the farmer: Montana marijuana advocates' rise and fall]Medical insurance has been a hot topic during Montana's 2019 legislative session and in 2017 the body voted to tax therapeutic cannabis. Democratic Governor Steve Bullock vetoed an earth hater bill that would have restricted women's access to reproductive health care.
Despite Republican entrenchment Democrats in Montana's legislature worked to bring better testing for contaminants to better serve that state's therapeutic cannabis patients and providers. Montana and the legislature are being flooded with cash from Koch-backed 'Americans For Prosperity' in a state where the far white wing is pushing the legislature to seize federal lands to mine, log, graze, whatever to pay back their benefactors.
It's been said countless times that The Last Best Place is not Oregon (even though the states show commonality in the white nationalist bloc) and elects Democrats with Blue Dog credentials: both Senator Jon Tester and Bullock believe that with vigilant environmental oversight they would support TransCanada's tarsands enema beginning in Montana. Montana's Left has a hard-on for what it perceives as Democrats being GOP-lite who have deserted progressive ideals just to woo centrist voters.
Practical choices beat Democrats in 2016 because our candidates ran away from President Obama, marriage equality and cannabis rights but now Democrats are keenly aware that to energize millennials and a jaded base radical times call for sensible approaches to reforms of civil liberties for all adults. Unless money is raised the earth haters and Nazis of the GOP will keep defining our priorities and buying elections.
Hey, Governor Bullock, instead of gallivanting off to Iowa don't make the same mistake Brian Schweitzer made by allowing a US Senate seat fall to Steve Daines; retake it.