Montana Media Realize Medical Marijuana Still Exists

by William Skink

Providers of Cannabis for medicinal purposes still operate in legal limbo, which readers of the Missoulian were reminded of last week in an article you can read here. For this post, I’ll highlight this excerpt:

Medical marijuana has been the subject of debate, and seen fluctuating waves of public opinion, statewide since its legalization in 2004.

Massive traveling marijuana clinics, dubbed “cannabis caravans,” roved the state from 2009 to 2011, setting up camp in conference rooms at large hotels.

It was at these so-called clinics that hundreds of people received a recommendation for the drug after a very brief consultation with a doctor. Sometimes the doctor was from out of state, traveling with the caravan; other times, the doctor would see patients via Skype.

Many of the caravans were organized by an outlandish marijuana activist, Jason Christ, who made headlines by smoking marijuana outside the state Capitol and filing numerous lawsuits in Missoula County District Court and U.S. District Court, including one attempting to sue the city police, Missoula County Attorney’s Office and 9-1-1 for $50 million.

Christ is no longer in Montana, and is no longer associated with this state’s medical marijuana industry.

First, I think it’s just fantastic that the Missoulian is still talking about Jason Christ in 2015. For those of us who watched the medical marijuana disaster unfold, it was the marriage of that sociopath and the media that helped sensationalize this issue, which is one reason public opinion fluctuated away from the level of support medical marijuana had. Too bad Jason is no loner in Montana, because Lee Enterprises loved reporting on anything he did. They made him the poster boy for an entire industry, then reported his every move, which was a significant factor in destroying that industry.

There were a lot of blog posts about this issue during the controversial years that culminated in some of the worst legislation I have ever seen on any issue getting passed. I wrote this post critical of the media in 2010. Here is one great comment from someone directly involved, Montanafesto:

It is disappointing that the media is willing to feed Christ’s malignant narcissism at an entire industry’s expense. I too would appreciate seeing articles about the people whose lives have been improved by the medical marijuana industry. I doubt there are many more people using marijuana now than were before medicinal use was legalized in the state- the difference is that now most of the money remains in Montana instead of being smuggled in a backpack to Northern California. Warehouses, vacant for years, have tenants. Gardening supply stores are cropping up all over. Approximately 5000 Montanans have caregiver jobs. Does anyone know how much money it requires to successfully grow marijuana in Montana? I think many would be surprised. There is this stigma that caregivers threw some seeds in their backyards and suddenly became millionaires.

Ignorance contributes to that attitude, but Christ’s behavior does as well. Obviously Montana has had substantial growth in the industry- which has exposed areas in the law that require at minimum, clarification. Blaming the media isn’t quite fair though- If Christ wasn’t placing himself in the spotlight with his bizarre and sociopathic behavior, the media wouldn’t have anything to cover. I agree that Christ does represent everything that is wrong with medical marijuana in Montana and should legislators repeal or enact massive regulations within the industry, I blame Jason Christ.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the legislature. There are already plenty of repeal and restrict bills being proposed and Republicans are looking to destroy medical marijuana rather than focusing on the fiscal promises that got them elected. What a shame.

Republicans did mostly get their way in destroying the industry, but in order to do so they had to pass legislation that violated all kinds of constitutional rights, which jhwygirl wrote about in this post in 2011.

And here we are in 2015, with the media once again reporting on a (up until now) quiet uptick in providers and green cards. Anyone talking to the media needs to be incredibly careful.

Anyway, I don’t have time for a more involved post right now, so I’ll leave readers with a little bit of good news, at least I think it’s good news. The Missoulian has a new editor, 37 year old Matthew Bunk. Bunk is replacing Sherry Devlin who has been an editor at the Missoulian since 2004.

It was way past time for a change.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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7 Responses to Montana Media Realize Medical Marijuana Still Exists

  1. petetalbot says:

    Do you know anything about this Matthew Bunk, Skink? Me neither, except what I read in the paper today. There are differing opinions out there about Sherry Devlin but this much I know: she was a veteran journalist and worked her ass off for the Missoulian, and for that she was demoted. With newsrooms being eviscerated and salaries being frozen or cut, I’m going to take a wait and see approach on this new editor.

    In the article today Bunk said that he is a “policy wonk and political junkie.” Considering that Lee Enterprises failed to send anyone to the Montana Democratic convention last weekend, that “political junkie” tag may not come in very handy.

    On the lighter side, the headline on the jump-to page in today’s paper read “Bunk.” I wonder if that wasn’t a layout editor’s subliminal message.

  2. geez, I said in editor instead of an editor at the end there, which is pretty funny. maybe I need an editor?

    Pete, maybe you think I’m being unfair to a hard working veteran journalist. I can’t speak to her work ethic and will take your word that she’s worked hard for many years. lot’s of people work hard and still lose their jobs. what most of us don’t have is an editorial responsibility to ensure the information that makes it into the paper is accurate, that the news being reported is being done so objectively. that’s her job, and I don’t think she’s very good at it.

    also, you and I aren’t helping. what the Missoulian didn’t write about you did write about, for free.

    • petetalbot says:

      Lord, I hope folks aren’t relying on me as a news source.

      • I’ll pull a Swede here, and highlight one quote as if it is mammon. Still, it is worth a hmmmm…given its source. In 1953, in a toast before the New York Press Club, John Swinton, former Chief of Staff of the New York Times and the “Dean of his Profession” stated:

        “If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone. The business of journalists is to destroy the truth; to pervert; to vilify; to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell this country and this race for their daily bread. We are the tools and vessels for rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.”

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