The integration of cannabis into the society will have far-reaching impacts - not as a result of people consuming it, but as a result of people understanding it. The emerging legitimate cannabis market and industry impacts the society, the culture, and the economy. As a writer, lobbyist, and policy wonk, Kate Cholewa offers a broad perspective for those both inside and outside the movement and industry.
The buzz beyond the buzz
Members of the Montana delegation (Senators Baucus and Tester and Reprentative Rehberg) all came out in defense of 2nd amendment rights after a memo from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) stated that medical marijuana users (or even those with referrals whether they actually ever used cannabis or not) did not have the right to own or purchase firearms.
It is interesting to note that cannabis is treated as considerably more dangerous than guns. In Montana, you don’t need a permit or a license to purchase a gun. You do need a “permit” in the form of a referral to purchase cannabis. You are not limited to how many guns you can have. You are limited to how much cannabis you can be in possession of.
In the U.S., in 2007, there were 17,352 gun-related suicides, and 12,632 gun-related homicides. 1520 of those deaths were of children age 0 – 17.
Death by cannabis: 0.
So, the ATF was taking away a person’s constitutional right to something that kills nearly 30,000 citizens per year, more than 80 a day, because of his or her utilization of a therapeutic plant that has not only not killed anybody, but has brought relief to or restored the health of hundreds of thousands.
And, while our Montana delegation is willing to stand up for people’s right to a product that kills more than 80 people a day, they have not been willing to stand up for people’s right to a plant with therapeutic properties that is safer than aspirin (16,000 deaths by aspirin per year for arthritis patients alone).
Pharmaceuticals. Cigarettes. Alcohol. Guns. All have a rap sheet when it comes to killing people. Yet, cannabis is the outlaw.
There is no reason why those who utilize cannabis should be denied a constitutional right afforded other citizens, even if it is a right some citizens are uncomfortable with or would like to see greater regulation of (“gun control”). However, it is difficult to ignore the hypocrisy and pandering of our delegation when they have ignored federal agents overrunning our state borders and indicting citizens under the claim that Montana’s laws don’t matter.
We’re glad our delegation is willing to protect guns. But what about people’s lives and their health? What about people’s liberty? What about the fact that people, Montanans, go to prison and have their lives ruined because of a fiction about cannabis made up 80 years ago to protect economic interests? What about the fact that Montana citizens voted in access to medical cannabis?
Was the Montana delegation protecting citizens, or pandering to them?
Following the AFT memo, many members of the Montana Cannabis Industry Association (MTCIA) sent letters to our delegation asking that they support and/or sign on as co-sponsors to H.R. 2306 which would recognize state sovereignty when it comes to medical marijuana laws. The group, The Montana Coalition for Rights, also sent the Montana delegation a letter asking that they introduce legislation with similiar aims. Their letter was a request that the delegation “introduce and enact legislation that will exempt Cannabis from federal enforcement actions in states which have enacted or may enact medical marijuana laws” and “respect state sovereignty with respects to medical marijuana laws.” They asked for a response by October 5th.
Will our delegation respond to these groups and citizens? Will their letter and emails be acknowledged?
Is our delegation’s willingness to stand up for tens and thousands of Montanans real, or is it just a press hit?