Riding for the brand — update on Montana’s first cannabis/hemp processing facility

A few nights ago, I got a chance to watch a screening of the new documentary “Code of the West.”  Then was treated to a fascinating panel discussion regarding the still controversial laws and evolution of our culture.  During which I had the privilege of watching Helena’s Mayor Jim Smith endorse the legalization and taxation of cannabis for all adults!  Below is a trailer for the new documentary.

Official Trailer — “Code of the West”

In agreement with all the reviews which have been coming out across Montana and the country, I thought it was a truly great film that captures the essence of this ongoing battle over medical freedom.

The title for “Code of the West” comes from another, separate piece of legislation which found approval from our Montana lawmakers during the chaotic 2011 session.  Basically, it lays down the code that cowboys tried upholding themselves to long before the days of big brother.  Which, in the distilled form of James P. Owen’s ten rules to live by, don’t sound half bad.

“Ride for the brand”, rule number seven, highlights a fascinating dynamic of politics that I feel is worthy of great exploration.  Because I am in the process of developing a profitable and ecologically responsible business which relies on defying the federal government’s chosen view of this plant.

What’s becoming more apparent, over the time I’ve spent watching these events unfold and becoming politically activated myself, is that a lot of people are unconcerned with the entire topic of cannabis until they realize how it impacts them economically.  Meaning that my little (yet rapidly progressing) business project could become a powerful political bargaining chip this election season.  After all, what politician wants to come down against local recycling, responsible manufacturing and healthy profits; in addition to dictating who has access to what medicine?

The project I’m referring to is a cannabis/hemp processing facility that will initially be turning stalks and stems of medical cannabis plants into high-quality building materials, papers and textiles.  Using an ancient method, called water retting, which also produces large quantities of organic fertilizer.  In today’s quickly-evolving market, it’s a goldmine.

Meaning the only real obstacle to developing an ultra-green and economically sustainable business from scratch is a few pieces of sturdy equipment (hemp fibers are far tougher than cotton, timber or basically any other fiber on earth.)  The Controlled Substances Act (CSA), under its current (outdated, therefore false) interpretation may be viewed as another obstacle.  But I’ve come to view it as free advertising and an opportunity to help change our severely broken laws regarding this plant.

Some people, including a few lawyers, have warned me about the potential ramifications of starting any sort of business associated with the medical cannabis industry in this wildly charged political climate.  My own extensive research into the medical and industrial potential of this sacred herb has left me convinced it should not be criminalized or in any way demonized.  Cannabis ought to be a celebrated part of our heritage and future.

Ganja, an ancient Egyptian sanscrit word for the plant, has unlimited potential in both medicine and manufacturing.  Reforming these counterproductive laws is not only imperative, it is a great lesson for the quickly growing number of us who believe our government is overdue for more extensive restructuring.   The enemy we face is not merely a law, it is the corruption of power inherent in our current form of government.

Even the infamous CSA itself has in it the explicitly defined process through which our U.S. Attorney General is to update the scheduling of substances in light of new information, medical usage and scientific understanding.  They are clearly subverting the intent of this law.

In addition to numerous lawsuits challenging current drug policy on medical grounds and ongoing reform efforts like the petition going around Montana to end cannabis prohibition for adults, there is also significant headway being made in the spiritual recognition of ganja.  A church in Hawaii recently won an instrumental case where the U.S. Ninth District Court of Appeals found they had a legitimate claim to using the herb as sacrament protected under the 1st amendment and Religious Freedom Reformation Act (RFRA.)

The U.S. Supreme Court chose not to hear an appeal, thus giving a pivotal case tacit approval.  A good summary of the case and its potential ramifications can be found here.  Links to all of the official court documents and some very interesting comments can be found here.  Even if we were to somehow fall short on all the current efforts to end prohibition at the ballot, this brutal war appears to be ending anyway.  Medical freedom will be ours and the recycling of cannabis fibers will soon be big business.

More recent developments worth noting include the personal appeal from a cancer-stricken New York Supreme Court judge, who unequivocally states “This is not a law-and-order issue; it is a medical and a human rights issue…” in an opinion piece for the New York Times.  It’s receiving extensive media coverage and poised to become a huge catalyst for an about-face by politicians and others formerly critical of the plant’s medical utility.  Much like “Code of the West” is already doing in theaters across Montana, the U.S. and beyond.

Perhaps the most fascinating development of this whole mess is our government’s ongoing efforts to prosecute lawyer Chris Lindsey, for doing his job by helping Montana Cannabis follow state and local laws.  He is now facing almost seven hundred years in prison because he wouldn’t take a deal (doing so would have him disbarred and require admitting guilt to crimes he did not commit.)  The insane length of his proposed sentence comes from erroneous gun charges which each carry a mandatory minimum; unlike most violent crimes…  A great article, written by Lindsey himself and found at Medical Marijuana Business Daily, explains the situation and concludes with some good thoughts on the future:  “…History is written by the victors, and we will be the victors regardless of the battles fought against us now.”

So, for my part, I’m not going to wait around for change any longer.  I am currently working with the CI-110 petition to give adults in Montana the freedom to choose cannabis, plus I have recently been granted the title of Deputy Director for Montana NORML.  A position with many opportunities to help fight against tyranny and inform people of the possibilities which hemp and cannabis fibers allow for a more efficient economy.  Who knows, maybe Willie Nelson will decide to invest in our processing facility or even open his own?  Please contact me at gonzo0013@gmail.com for more info.


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