Could the Legislature Have Been More Dishonest About Medical Marijuana?

During the Legislative session, I suggested that opponents of medical marijuana were using scare tactics to push through their moral crusade to ban the use of the drug. Now, I’m annoyed as anyone when someone decides it’s his constitutional right to smoke a smelly, vile weed at a Ray LaMontagne concert (cough, Missoula), but it’s hard to believe that these crusaders were doing anything other than lying in their effort to appeal to their base.

Remember lurid tales of teenagers engaging in prostitution to buy marijuana? Increased violence crime and even gang violence?

Well, as was so often the case during the 2011 session, the Montana GOP was about as far from the truth as James Knox is from an ethical business model. Crime has been going down in Montana–and the the latest statistics show that crime went down again in 2010, as Melissa Anderson reports:

A new report from the Montana Board of Crime Control indicates that violent crime and property crime are on the decline in the Treasure State.
That trend is a mirror of national figures; FBI figures for 2010 show that violent crimes nationwide are down by 5.5%, and property crimes declined 2.8% percent from 2009.
In Montana over the past 33 years, those numbers vary, but are still on the way down. Violent crimes went down about 7% since 2009.

Surely, though, marijuana use increased, as Republican legislators claimed? Certainly not, as Charles Johnson reports:

The survey also notes that the number of high-schoolers who have used marijuana in their lifetime is down from 42.2 percent in 2009 to 39.2 percent in 2011.
The Youth Risk Behavior Survey polled 4,148 high school students in 46 randomly selected Montana high schools in February. It’s compiled from a 93-item questionnaire developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A charitable interpretation of the claims made by legislators would be that they were misinformed–and on far too many issues, they certainly were. It seems evident, however, that once again, Montana Republicans were not only willing to overturn the will of the voters, but to lie shamelessly as they did it.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • One of our bloggers conducted voter ID surveys all over Billings last summer.  She said that after interviewing hundreds of households across the city, that not even ONE person claimed that medical marijuana was an important issue to them.  She consulted with the other YRs who were conducting the surveys and each of them concurred. This tells me that the base isn’t nearly as concerned about medical marijuana as the obsessive legislature would suggest.  They campaigned on job creation, smaller government, economic growth, etc.  It will be interesting to see how voters respond to this as the issue will certainly be on the 2012 ballot.  Will the issue mobilize the stoner voting bloc or will they remain locked to the couch? Initial reports from signature gatherers indicate that 25% of those signing the petition are first registering to vote. 

  • Lets see now………  The one person who probably had or should have had some clue as to these data…… was Mark Long.   This is the guy who , in front of legislative hearings, went to great lengths to represent that the impending criminal crisis, and exponential increase in teen marijuana use, had a clear nexus to medical cannabis approval in Montana.   An acclaimed expert in Drug Enforcement with the Montana Department of Justice – the same department that houses the Montana Board of Crime Control who collects this information, collates and writes the report noted herein….

    Deception or simply ignorance?  Either case should result in his dimissal for cause…..  Perhaps retirement would suit him…..?

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