Patients for Reform, Not Repeal Responds to Bad Journalism in Billings Gazette

October 15, 2012

The following was posted on the Patients for Reform website earlier today:

Don’t Let Lazy Press Mislead You On SB 423
October 15, 2012

Here’s is how the Billings Gazette is defining the decision over SB 423:

“Voting ‘for’ means supporting the changes that have curbed medical marijuana businesses over the past year.

Voting ‘against’ means going back to the original, voter-approved 2004 law that allowed medical marijuana businesses to flourish.”

Here is how Montana Public Radio is defining the decision over SB 423:

“A vote for IR 124 keeps the legislature’s reform bill in place as it will be after the injunction is lifted and businesses really do need to shut down.

A vote against IR 124 puts Montana on another new path, the old marijuana law post federal raids and post new restrictions put in place by the State Supreme Court.”

Notice a difference? And the Billings Gazette put their inaccurate and misleading text under a headline about doing one’s homework, which they clearly didn’t do.

Let’s look at a “yes” vote. The Gazette says it supports the changes that have curbed medical marijuana businesses over the past year. This is a not accurate. As MPR learned when they did their homework:

Let’s start with a yes vote. It does affirm SB 423, the legislature’s reform. But that law has actually yet to be fully implemented.

“There’s still currently an injunction against that law taking effect,” he said.

That injunction is a result of a lawsuit by the Montana Cannabis Industry Association. It blocks the part of SB 423 saying providers cannot make money from their product.

So patients are still buying from some caregivers right now. The State Supreme Court has already ruled to lift that injunction, but it still hasn’t quite happened yet because of formalities in the appeals process. When the injunction is lifted, the state would then see SB 423 as it was originally intended for the first time.

And as for a no vote. The Gazette appears entirely clueless when it says a no vote is, “going back to the original, voter-approved 2004 law that allowed medical marijuana businesses to flourish.”

“Well, this is confusing too,” Brigham said, “because a no vote does not go back to the way things were a couple of years ago.”

Brigham points out that the medical marijuana shops across the state didn’t necessarily shut their doors because of SB 423. Remember, that injunction still allows them to operate, for the time being. The shops have closed down because of the federal raids and storefront owners’ fear the same thing would happen to them.

Also, this summer the Montana Supreme Court came out with several rulings restricting marijuana use outside of the Legislature’s reform bill.

“Nobody can claim that if people vote no on IR 124, that we’re gonna go back to the Wild West,” Brigham said, adding those days are gone forever.

I should have said, “nobody can honestly say” because apparently the Gazette is willing to say that which is entirely wrong and misleads their readers.

http://www.patientsforreform.org/