As many of you have heard, Ed Doctor’s year-long tenure as the president of the MTCIA has come to an end. Ed has taken the MTCIA’s cause and made it his personal responsibility, and that commitment has made the organization what it is today. His leadership, insight and humor will be missed. Ed also resigned his position as a board member so that he can do the important work of starting a Political Action Committee. The most fundamental change we can make is in ushering in a new set of elected officials who understand our mission and will help us realize our goals for a well-regulated state program. The MTCIA cannot take that type of political role, and so Ed will begin the process of putting together an organization that can champion the will of the people through our state’s leadership. Ed has the complete support of the MTCIA, and we look forward to seeing him amaze us again. We have also seen several other changes in recent months. Kate Cholewa and John Masterson have stepped down to pursue other matters. The board has added Nicole French, Erin Bell and Elizabeth Pincolini. We welcome these valuable additions to our board of directors.
The MTCIA has selected a new president, and I am both honored and humbled to take on this role. I could not be more dedicated to helping medical marijuana find its proper place in Montana, and I will continue for as long as I am able to do so. The fact that the MTCIA’s decision was made even in light of my pending charges by the federal government is a profound statement of support and I am deeply moved and inspired to take on this challenge.
First of all, I believe that the lawsuit against the state of Montana for its attempts to destroy the industry is a fight worth waging. If it had not been for the suit, there would effectively be no providers today. When the vast majority of patients are either too sick or do not have the resources to grow their own cannabis, the amazingly brave work done by those who continue to help patients demonstrates an extraordinary amount of compassion for those in their care. These people deserve our vocal and visible support, and we will continue to do what is within our power to provide that support. Of course, this battle comes at a steep financial price, but I truly believe that Jim Goetz was the right choice when we made the decision over a year ago, and he is the right choice today. Mr. Goetz has done work of the highest caliber, and he deserves our continued financial commitment. Simply put, when the fighting gets tough, that is the wrong time to remove one of your best warriors. Everyone currently in operation today should take note of the fact that he personally fought on behalf of our cause and has done what none other has been able to do – turn back the government’s rising tide of condemnation and hatred for what we know is right for this state’s citizens.
Secondly, I believe just as strongly that the MTCIA must take on a greater role of advocacy and public relations with respect to members of the industry, as well as those patients who rely on them. Our story needs to be shared with the national press and advocacy groups outside our state. The federal government and our own state government have done everything possible to snuff out the flame we collectively started through a voter initiative in 2004, and that story should be told. Other states and other medical marijuana patients and providers can benefit from the lessons we have learned. I am currently working with several groups outside the state in order to raise awareness of the battles being fought here. Montana is not an “also ran” medical marijuana state when it comes to the federal government’s war on drugs; it is in fact the front line. The nation needs to understand what we are going through.
In the coming weeks, we will initiate a public relations campaign that is being funded through donations from providers and private individuals who specifically believe in the value of a public relations initiative. This will not replace our legal battle, but will compliment it. Our first billboard will go up along I-90 sometime very soon. The overall message is simple: We did not vote for our elected officials to be our parents, but rather to be our voice. They work for We the People, and their job is not to tell us how to lead our lives. Rather, it is our duty as voters and citizens to demand that they run our government the way we want it to run. We believe this powerful message will hit home in a very real way for the citizens of Montana.
There is seemingly no shortage of bad news for medical marijuana providers and patients in our state. Indeed, these are the times that try men’s souls. The fair weather profit-takers have long gone, most likely underground, and even committed and caring providers have found it safer to simply leave the fight. But those who soldier on in this crisis have not shrunk from their service to a cause they know is right. All those who stand with us now deserve the love and thanks from the citizens of Montana. Governmental oppression is not easily beaten. But we have this consolation: That the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. Life as a caregiver in 2009 was easy, and what we obtain too cheaply, we value too little. It is only when the challenges are hard that we understand a thing’s true value. Can we put a price on personal liberty or physical heath? These things are beyond value; truly a priceless things. The federal government, with its armed and well-trained police force has named us its top priority for nothing more than political purposes. In so doing, it has trampled on our state laws, the Montana Constitution, and on the rights secured by the nation’s Bill of Rights. If this is not tyranny, then tyranny has no meaning in the US. We as Americans have a duty to oppose unjust laws, and the MTCIA stands ready to do just that. Stay with us during our fight, for history will show we are the victors. Take heart! We have only just begun to fight.