Written by John Plestina
(Editor’s Note: This is the second installment of a two-part series addressing the recent vote by the Fort Peck Tribes Executive Board to legalize medical marijuana, potential roadblocks in federal law, whether the tribal law would compliment or clash with Montana’s 11-year-old voter-approved measure that allows medical marijuana and attempts to overturn the Montana statute.)
Forget the 1970s and ‘80s Cheech and Chong movies glorifying pot smoking. Toking to get a buzz remains illegal.
Montana voters approved an initiative in 2004 legalizing medical marijuana by prescription only and with a host of legal restrictions.
To date, 22 other states and the District of Columbia have statutes legalizing marijuana for medical reasons only, and Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana for adults 21 and over. Legalization in the nation’s capital comes with the strictest restrictions on legal use in the nation.
Now that a 60 percent majority of the Fort Peck Tribes Executive Board has voted to legalize medical marijuana on the reservation and recognize Montana medical marijuana cards carried by enrolled tribal members effective Oct. 1, questions loom over a federal prohibition of possessing, distributing or cultivating any amount of medical and recreational marijuana and allowing federal authorities to disregard state law.
Legal opinions have determined the Montana law does not apply to the seven Indian reservations within the state and other federal lands. It has been interpreted that non-Indians living in Wolf Point, Poplar and elsewhere on the Fort Peck Reservation cannot legally use medical marijuana.
Federal agents raided marijuana greenhouses and dispensaries in 13 cities across Montana in 2011 in a crackdown that federal prosecutors said was aimed at medical marijuana suppliers that were engaged in large-scale drug trafficking.
That federal action came two years after the federal Ogden memo said the federal government would not prosecute medical marijuana providers and patients in states that legalized it.
The Billings Gazette reported Sunday, Aug. 16, that Michael Cotter, U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana, declined to comment on the priority of future federal prosecution of medical marijuana providers.
Between 2009 and 2011, the numbers of medical marijuana providers in Montana increased, as did the number of Montanans issued cards allowing them to lawfully use marijuana for medical purposes, at least as determined in state law. That number increased from about 4,000 to 30,000 during the two-year-period and then dropped to less than a third of the 30,000 the following year. The Montana Department of Health and Human Services has released recent data that registered medical marijuana patients have increased from 8,681 in June 2012 to 12,017 patients in June of this year.
Legal medical marijuana providers have increased from 390 in June 2012 to 442 this June. There were 4,438 dispensaries operating in Montana in 2011.
Critics of the 11-year-old law cite medical cannabis being converted for recreational pot smoking and illegal drug trade.
In April 2011, then Gov. Brian Schweitzer vetoed a bill that would have repealed the voter-approved initiative. That was at the same time state lawmakers were working on legislation tightening regulation.
The Legislature also passed a bill that same year to dismantle the program by disallowing compensation for providers and limiting the maximum number of patients to three.
A legal challenge in a state district court in Helena questioned whether the Legislature could restrict access to medical marijuana and succeeded in eliminating the ban on compensation and the three-patient limit.
A state appeal to the Montana Supreme Court determined that a district court judge erred and bumped the decision back to the lower court. The Helena judge made the same decision.
The state has again appealed the district court decision to the state Supreme Court.
The Legislature, also in 2011, passed the Montana Marijuana Act, repealing the Montana Medical Marijuana Act that voters approved in 2004. The 2011 legislation provides for a gradual shift in the state medical marijuana system.
The state Department of Public Health and Human Services began accepting applications for providers and registry identification cards to persons with qualifying medical conditions in June 2011. The new law included a 30-day application approval process for registry identification cards and prohibited unregistered providers from being in possession of mature marijuana plants, seedlings, cuttings, clones, usable marijuana, or marijuana-related products. The 2011 legislation mandated that as of Oct. 1, 2011, all prescription marijuana providers pass background checks.
Montana’s medical marijuana program has been called unworkable by some state lawmakers resulting in two bills introduced into the last legislative session early this year. Neither made it out of committee.
Registry identification cards are issued to Montana residents only and are valid for one year or less, depending on the recommendation by the prescribing medical provider.
There is no provision within the law allowing reciprocity with other states.
The existing Montana law requires that minors younger than age 18 have permission from a parent or guardian, that the parent or guardian acts as the provider and have a recommendation for a second physician.
Restrictions also include that: registry identification cardholders may not provide marijuana to any person unless the cardholder is also registered as a provider and the recipient is registered as that cardholder’s patient; a person may not be a registered cardholder if the person is on court-ordered probation, in the custody of or under the supervision of the department of corrections or a youth court; prohibits cardholders from providing marijuana to any person unless the cardholder is also registered as a provider, and the recipient is registered as that cardholder’s patient; makes the identities of cardholders available to law enforcement; requires that cardholders who are suspected of DUI during law enforcement traffic are required to submit to blood draws to analyze the amount of THC in the system; prohibits smoking marijuana in plain view of the public; prohibits use at primary and secondary schools, colleges, on property owned or leased by a school district or college; prohibits use at healthcare facilities, onboard any public or school bus, public parks, recreation and youth centers, churches and other place of worship; does not shield cardholders from workplace drug use policies; allows insurance providers to decline compensation for the cost of medical marijuana; and prohibits subsidization through government programs.
Cards are revoked of persons convicted of DUI because of marijuana, any misdemeanor or felony drug offense, for allowing another person to be in possession of usable marijuana, marijuana infused products including edibles, plants or seedlings, or the registration card.
The Montana law limits legal possession to a maximum of four mature plants and 12 seedlings, but is vague about how cardholders could legally obtain marijuana plants. If a cardholder has selected a provider, that cardholder is not authorized to be in possession of plants and if the cardholder has elected to grow his or her own, there is no person legally authorized to provide plants to that person.
Plants legally grown must not be visible from streets or any public area.
Cardholders growing marijuana must notify DPHHS of the location of the plants.
Written by John Plestina
Wolf Point’s sixth-graders will remain at Northside Elementary School for the 2015-2016 school year, said Gary Scott, Wolf Point School superintendent, in response to a proposal to move them to the junior/senior high school to help alleviate the teacher shortage. (Photo by John Plestina)
District superintendent Gary Scott told The Herald-News Saturday, Aug. 15, that teaching positions had been filled during the previous week, allowing sixth grade students to remain at Northside Elementary School.
A proposal to move sixth-grade classes and teachers to the junior high wing of the combined junior and senior high school building received negative responses from parents and teachers during a meeting Monday, Aug. 10. School district trustees voted at that meeting to leave the decision with the school building administrators.
The next day, Scott said it appeared unlikely the students would be relocated.
At issue has been a shortage of teachers at all district schools and difficulty recruiting.
Several parents and teachers cited at the Aug. 10 meeting that at least a full school year is necessary as preparation to transition incoming sixth-graders into a junior high setting, and that 14 days notice was not adequate.
Some parents and one Northside School teacher said some children might not be able to adapt to a life-changing event without adequate preparation and that some could be at risk of failing.
Many junior high and middle schools in Montana and across the nation include sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students.
Written by John Plestina
I keep hearing that many people believe killing a cricket brings bad luck. If that is true, I must be cursed for life because I might qualify as a serial cricket killer.
The supposed curse is even if the disgusting pests invade our homes, we are putting a cricket out of it’s misery by stomping on it a second time after only wounding it with a sole or heel, or we are using it for bait for fishing.
I’m under siege in my house by hundreds of crickets for the second straight summer. They were everywhere in July and August last year and again this summer. At one point last year, a single bug bomb deployed in my basement left hundreds of little corpses on the floor for me to clean up. That evidently reduced the numbers of eggs left in the walls, carpeting or wherever as there are fewer crickets this year. I’ve probably killed at least a couple of hundred so far this year. Maybe that does not make me a serial killer. If it does, call me “Dexter.”
I try to rid my home of crickets without being a sadist, locked and loaded with my can of Raid, bug bombs a couple of times a month and sometimes with a fast foot at times I see a doomed cricket on the floor that doesn’t succeed in hopping away before I can stomp it. I have not resorted to firearms or explosives, yet.
There are some pretty wild stories out there.
Some folks in Asia believe killing a cricket brings very bad luck for 10 succeeding generations. I think that’s about 200 years after my daughter and grandchildren. There is even a belief that imitating the disgusting chirping sounds male crickets make brings bad luck.
Crickets, which are related to grasshoppers and use their hind legs to hop, are defenseless, soft-bodied bugs with round heads and long antennae. They live just a couple of months unless I happen to step on them first if I’m faster than they can hop away.
We’ve all heard the males’ amorous mating calls that consist of annoying, persistent chirping that attracts female crickets while torturing humans, especially when we are brazenly awakened to the merciless serenading. I don’t suppose I would get a date if I tried that.
Doing nothing during the daytime hours and singing love songs all night sounds like the good life. The plus side is that by the time crickets reach the adult chirping stage of their development, they have about three weeks remaining to live unless they cannot find food. In that event, they die even faster.
What’s not good is that each female can lay over 100 eggs, guaranteeing a fresh crop of the disgusting, little cannibalistic critters.
Despite crickets being disgusting pests, some folks like them.
In some Asian cultures, crickets are kept indoors in cages to bring cheer. They haven’t brought me cheer.
Crickets are kept as pets in several countries in Europe and Asia. No thank you.
In Brazilian folklore, crickets are omens of coming events.
The grasshopper-like bugs appear as likable characters in American and European literature. English author Charles Dickens’ 1845 fairy tale The Cricket on the Hearth features ― you guessed it ― a cricket. The chapters are called “chirps.” Jiminy Cricket, with his top hat and umbrella, is the Disney version of the Talking Cricket, a fictional character from Italian novelist Carlo Collodi’s 1883 book The Adventures of Pinocchio, and in movies based on the book.
How about cricket fighting. Not dog fighting and not cock fighting. Cricket fighting has been sort of a “blood sport” in China involving the fighting of male crickets that dates to the Tang dynasty from 618 to 907 A.D.
Shall I gross you out a little more?
People eat them deep-fried as snacks in Vietnam and other countries in the southern part of Asia. Yuck.
Here in the U.S., farmed crickets are incorporated into some protein bars, baked goods, and protein powders for weight loss, and used as food for zoo and laboratory animals.
There are 213 insects known to exist in Montana, including several species of crickets. They include Mormon crickets and house crickets. I think I’ve got one of those two in my house. They have black shells.
About 900 species of crickets exist worldwide, except in very cold climates. Too bad they flourish in Montana.
Written by John Plestina
Three transients accused of driving to Glasgow in a stolen a pickup truck to visit a friend in jail had initial appearances in 15th District Court Wednesday, Aug. 12.
Authorities allege that two women from Missouri and a California man used a stolen truck to visit a Florida man in the Valley County Detention Center Tuesday, Aug. 11. According to the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office, the pickup was stolen from Cherokee Village, Ark., and had Wyoming license plates that were reported stolen from another vehicle.
A RCSO deputy arrested the three people after spotting the stolen truck at Town Pump in Wolf Point, followed the pickup into the Albertson’s parking lot where he conducted a traffic stop.
RCSO undersheriff John Summers said it has been reported that they had used the stolen truck to visit Julian Tyler Baughman, 32, of Tampa, Fla., at the jail in Glasgow.
Baughman is one of two men accused of taking RCSO deputies on a high-speed chase in a stolen truck through Culbertson in July that ended with officers shooting out the tires to stop the pickup in a field.
Amanda Marie Broyles, 41, of Lexington, Mo., Brett Joseph Sandy, 25, of Orange, Calif., and Shannon Temmel, 40, of St Louis, Mo., were taken into custody and brought before District Judge David Cybulski the next day for initial appearances. They will enter pleas during arraignments in late August or September.
All are believed to have recently lived in Williston, N.D.
According to the RCSO, Temmel claims to be Baughman’s girlfriend.
Broyles is facing four charges: obtaining or exerting unauthorized control over property valued in excess of $1,500, which is felony theft; displaying a license plate assigned to another vehicle; operating a motor vehicle while the privilege to do so is suspended or revoked in North Dakota; and obstructing a peace officer by providing a false identity.
Sandy is charged with felony obtaining or exerting unauthorized control over property valued in excess of $1,500.
Temmel is charged with felony obtaining or exerting unauthorized control over property valued in excess of $1,500.
The Valley County Detention Center is holding Broyles and Temmel for Roosevelt County. Sandy is lodged in the Roosevelt County Jail. All three are held on $25,000 bail.
Baughman and Kevyn Alan-Addison Johannesson, 26, of Williston, N.D., are alleged to have taken RCSO deputies a high-speed chase in a stolen vehicle that started in Culbertson and ended with deputies shooting out the tires to stop the truck in a field outside Culbertson on July 7.
They were arraigned July 29. Baughman pleaded not guilty to three counts of felony theft, criminal endangerment, fleeing from or eluding a peace officer and two counts of criminal mischief. Johannesson pleaded not guilty on the same date to three counts of felony theft, criminal endangerment, fleeing from or eluding a peace officer and two counts of criminal mischief.
Baughman is held in Glasgow and Johannesson in Wolf Point.
According to charging documents, a RCSO deputy pursued Baughman who was driving a van reported stolen in Williston on U.S. Hwy. 2 in Culbertson. Baughman attempted to elude the deputy and later exited the van and got into the passenger side of a pickup truck driven by Johannesson, who took the deputy on a chase with speeds reported as high as 80 mph that ended in a nearby field after one deputy fired three shotgun blasts and another discharged two rounds with a rifle into the tires to disable the vehicle.
The pickup was reported stolen from Williston.
Over $30,000 worth of stolen tools and equipment was recovered from the van, according to court documents.
The Montana Standard of Butte reported in April that Baughman and a woman identified as Shannon Michelle Culey, then 39, of St. Louis, Mo., were arrested for attempting to steal a pickup truck in Butte and being in possession of a car that was reported stolen in Billings that contained between $2,000 and $3,000 worth of stolen items. A records search showed that Culey has used the alias Temmel.
The Williston Herald reported in January that Johannesson was arrested and charged with felony possession of contraband after he was released from the Williams County Jail in Williston, and that he admitted to stealing a four-wheeler and is facing two counts of burglary, one count of felonious possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, two counts of felonious theft of property in North Dakota.
Written by John Plestina
Smoke wafting into Roosevelt County from fires ravaging in western Montana, Idaho and Washington have created a smoky haze that the National Weather Service in Glasgow predicts will continue until at least until the weekend.
NWS meteorologist Patrick Gilchrist said a silver lining might be beautiful sunsets because of the haze.
“At this point, the majority [of the smoke] is going to depend on how much fire activity we see in Washington, Idaho and western Montana,” he said Monday, Aug. 17.
The Thompson fire in Glacier National Park has consumed at least 13,000 acres. While a few others are burning in western Montana, dozens are burning in Idaho and Washington, including the 277,000-acre Soda fire in western Idaho.
Gilchrist said prevailing winds should keep some of the haze in the area at least until the weekend.
Drifting wildfire smoke was also reported in Billings.
High temperatures, dry conditions, lightning and wind have helped to spark fires across the three-state region as well as in California.
The National Weather Service reported Sunday that smoky conditions had improved slightly as winds pushed smoke into southwest Montana and Wyoming.
Wildfires have burned thousands of acres in Glacier National Park, other areas in Western Montana and in the two nearby states. Many residents of the impacted areas have been evacuated.
Smoke has resulted in an air quality alert in parts of western Montana with air classified as unhealthy.
Predictions for fire danger remain high in western Montana, which has been called a tinderbox due to minimal precipitation and a weak snowpack.