Solving the Cannabis Conundrum

Here in Montana, we are in the middle of a monstrous debate regarding the use of cannabis as medicine.  The voters approved of “medical marijuana” by a sizeable majority in 2004, but ever since the issuance of a now infamous 2009 federal memorandum, the industry has been growing exponentially and frightening a lot of folks for various reasons.

One of these reasons is that our federal government still considers the plant a “schedule I narcotic”, even though the above-mentioned memo clearly recommends against using taxpayer dollars to persecute people using the plant in accordance with their respective state’s laws.

The Holder memo does not concede that cannabis has proven safe and effective medical uses, however it does indicate at least a bit of understanding as to why our current laws don’t make any sense and are a huge burden on taxpayers.

To put it simply, that memo is a way for the federal government to dance around having to admit the cannabis plant has proven medical value.  And the only reason for doing this is to keep the plant listed as a “schedule I narcotic”, which according to the definition of the Controlled Substances Act, clearly states that no plants or substances with proven medical value can be listed as a “schedule I narcotic.”

For many, it is probably not the least bit shocking to learn that our government manipulates its own laws in order to keep waging its chosen wars.  After all, that has been the modus operandi of our “leaders” for quite some time now.   But the existence of this memorandum also means something else.  Something much bigger, and truly shocking.

While maintaining that cannabis has no proven medical utility, the memorandum points out key factors in determining whether or not to pursue cannabis-related charges.  They are simple and straightforward:

  • unlawful possession or unlawful use of firearms;
  • violence;
  • sales to minors;
  • financial and marketing activities inconsistent with the terms, conditions, or purposes of state law, including evidence of money laundering activity and/or financial gains or excessive amounts of cash inconsistent with purported compliance with state or local law;
  • amounts of marijuana inconsistent with purported compliance with state or local law;
  • illegal possession or sale of other controlled substances; or
  • ties to other criminal enterprises.


While this may seem rational and ordinary, it is actually a huge about-face by our federal government with regards to the cannabis plant.  These guidelines clearly show that our government knows cannabis has legitimate uses in our society.  Uses that have nothing to do with weapons, or violence, or criminal enterprises.

All of which has led the feds to effectively revert control over the plant back to those states who choose to regulate it themselves.  Which is exactly what the federal government did to end alcohol prohibition back in the thirties.

Yet, here I am over a year later still fighting tooth and nail for my right to use the medicine of my choice.  A right which I paid good money and spent a whole lot of time to secure once already, but it seems that wasn’t enough.  Now the Montana legislature is holding my future health and that of tens of thousands of fellow Montanans in their hands.

Perhaps the most frustrating and confounding part of this entire situation is the fact that cannabis has also been used as religious sacrament by the majority of civilizations throughout history.  Yet those who have gone against the government typically end up with a judge telling them that their faith is illegitimate and just another excuse to “get high.”

Clearly we are dealing with a gross violation of the first amendment here, so why is nobody talking about this aspect?  Why is it that when I used to point out this glaring contradiction in the comment section of my local newspaper’s website, it would always disappear?

And, while I’m at it, can anybody explain why it was recently reported in the other local paper (The Independent) that our Governor Schweitzer is in possession of a list of drug prices which are reportedly kept top secret according to federal law:

..”I would like to stand on the highest mountain in Montana, and shout price-by-price, rip-off by rip-off, the shenanigans here showing how much more the American consumer is paying,” the governor said. 

The Associated Press requested a copy of the price list last fall and was turned down by Schweitzer, who otherwise considers himself a champion of open government. 

The AP, in conjunction with other news organizations, followed up by co-signing a letter by an attorney insisting upon the document’s public release, saying that a document in the governor’s possession is a public information. But the governor’s office rejected the request, saying a federal law guarantees that the prices are confidential. ..”

While our Governor is making noise about this most pressing and often depressing topic, the Billings Gazette is finding the time to weigh in on the “medical marijuana” conundrum themselves.  Here’s my favorite part of their latest pharmaceutical puff piece (titled Gazette opinion: State medical marijuana law needs fixing):

“..The use of medical marijuana for “chronic pain” has been abused, causing the number of legal card holders to skyrocket from 3,921 in September 2009 to 28,379 in February 2011. The use of marijuana as a pain remedy requires additional restrictions…”

Why do they attribute this stark rise in use to “chronic pain” instead of the federal memorandum released in October 2009 which said the feds would back off on people following state law?  Do they really assume their readers have no memory of the sequence of events which unfolded barely over a year ago?!

I suppose that I could ask rhetorical questions like this all day without getting anywhere, but if any Montana legislators happen to read this then I would like to ask them one last question.  What exactly gives you the right to dictate which substances I can or cannot put into my body?  Your beef should be with the federal government, not your tax paying constituents.


One Response to Solving the Cannabis Conundrum

  1. Pingback: Solving the Cannabis Conundrum | Abel Williams

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