300,000 people. No alcohol served. Vendors. Information booths. Three stages. Music. Panels. Speakers. Food. People moved at the ocean front parks like schools of fish and included every age group, groups of friends, handholding couples, and stroller-pushing families.
The weather was hot.
MTCIA Board members Ed Docter and Kate Cholewa took a stage twice to tell the Montana story to the throngs. Ed Docter also served on a panel discussing the economics of the cannabis marketplace. Whereas the larger atmosphere was that of a festival, within it small groups of advocates shared their states’ experiences, exchanged business cards, and expanded the growing national network of citizens who want to see this country deal realistically with hemp and cannabis policy.
Seattle itself is moving to license dispensing centers.
The speakers and panels covered the many diverse dimensions of the movement and included family members of those unjustly incarcerated, patients, those who work on behalf of civil liberties, and politicians. You can see Dennis Kucinich address the crowd here.
Those from other states were impressed with what we’re doing here in Montana. Divisiveness in states such as California and Oregon have undermined larger goals. Other states have tried to create associations of producers and haven’t been able to pull it off or hold it together. Yet, they recognize it as a critical piece of the puzzle in doing the work of reforming cannabis policies in this country.
Montana has its differences of opinion and even petty conflicts, but we’re doing well under incredible stresses, injustices, and challenges.
Another topic discussed at the event was whereas the press often talks about there being big money in the legal production and sale of cannabis, what they fail to discuss is the big money (tax payer money and confiscated money) that drives the prohibition industries.
And, those prohibition industries are funding politicians.
One of the stated reasons members of the Montana legislature set out to destroy the emerging medical cannabis market was that they didn’t want “those people” – the medical cannabis workforce – to have money and the access to the political process it can provide. This reason was stated on the floor of the Montana House of Representatives.
Denying Montanans incomes in order to block their access to political participation – that’s criminal.
And, it’s un-American.