Thursday, August 26, 2010

Law officer on the law

Posted on Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Last week the Indy printed an article about public access to criminal justice information (see “etc.,” Aug. 19, 2010). Reporter Jessica Mayrer had an interesting assignment, but was apparently constrained by time and space from giving the public an adequate primer on accessing criminal justice information from source agencies. Your readers should know that there are two types of criminal justice information, “Confidential” and “Public.” The Missoula Police Department (MPD) can only legally disseminate public criminal justice information under most circumstances and our state constitution gives considerable weight to issues of individual privacy. The sanctions against criminal justice agencies for improper dissemination equal or exceed those of failing to give proper access to public information.

Public criminal justice information access means that an agency such as the Missoula Police Department is required to make available for viewing during normal business hours any of certain documents it has created and stored. The only public information created and stored by the MPD are “initial offense reports” and “initial arrest records.” These reports and records are accessible to the public as required by law. Requests for copies of these reports are processed in as timely a manner as possible and the city does charge a fee of certain parties for certain reports. All other information is generally considered confidential and there are legal processes to secure that information if deemed proper by the courts.

Citizens can find additional information about how to view or receive public criminal justice information by visiting the city of Missoula website at www.ci.missoula.mt.us and looking under the “Services” tab for Police Department. Recent improvements to our website include links accessing daily online summaries (including maps) of crime activity going back seven days, unrestricted access to the MPD’s policy manual and a wealth of other information.

We appreciate Mayrer’s recognition that the MPD works well with local media to share information. It is a vital partnership that we view as critical to keeping the public informed and prepared. The MPD hopes to be as transparent as legally possible and wants to make sure the public is well versed in how to access information it is looking for. We also always welcome feedback about our delivery of law enforcement services in the Missoula community.

Mark Muir

Chief of Police

Missoula

Banding together

Posted on Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Thanks to Gov. Brian Schweitzer, Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester, and British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell, Glacier National Park, the North Fork Flathead River and Flathead Lake are more secure today than a year ago.

The victories began this past winter during the Vancouver Olympics when Campbell announced that he would place the Canadian Flathead Valley off-limits to mining and energy development.

Gov. Schweitzer’s quiet, behind-the-scenes work built a relationship with the premier that resulted in a historic agreement that included the ban on mining in the North Fork watershed. After signing the agreement, he said, “I can say of all of the things I’ve managed to accomplish, there’s none I’m more proud of.”

Montana’s senators have also been working diligently to protect our side of the North Fork. Sen. Baucus has championed protection for Glacier and the Flathead’s clean waters since he was first elected to Congress, and he has been joined in recent years in an effective partnership with Sen. Tester. Together they initiated legislation to implement terms of the transboundary agreement. They reached out to energy companies holding leases in the North Fork, and have achieved an unprecedented retirement of over 250,000 acres of leases at no cost to U.S. taxpayers.

Our senators’ hard work continues to pay off. Their legislation to protect the North Fork of the Flathead from energy extraction and hard rock mining (S. 3075) has advanced to the floor of the U.S. Senate. This legislation stands a good chance of becoming law before the end of the year.

And, just last month, the United Nations report on the visit last year by a science team to evaluate the potential impacts of mining on the Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park was released. It declares how important the transboundary Flathead area is and that coal mining would degrade the Peace Park, a World Heritage Site. The report affirms the importance of the Schweitzer-Campbell agreement and the passage of S. 3075.

These successes have happened because local citizens want to protect clean water, Glacier Park and Flathead Lake. Local businesses, communities, elected officials and outdoorsmen and women understand that protecting clean water and Glacier make good environmental and economic sense.

But our job as a community to protect these treasures remains unfinished. It is critical that a U.S.-Canadian agreement to protect the Transboundary Flathead region be completed at the federal level.

Our actions today will ensure that future generations have the same opportunity to experience the natural wonders of Glacier National Park, the Flathead River and Flathead Lake. By working together, we will protect the legacy of the park, our famous waters and wildlife, and special way of life.

Dave Hadden

Director

Headwaters Montana

Robin Steinkraus

Executive Director

Flathead Lakers

Will Hammerquist

Program Manager

National Parks Conservation

Association’s Glacier Field Office

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Another take, with emphasis

Posted on Thu, Aug 12, 2010 at 4:00 AM

I feel an undeniable urge to respond to the letter from Joyce Nalepka. Her letter was so fraught with false assertions, histrionics and outright lies concerning the “dangers” of cannabis that I could not let it be.

While she attempts to endear herself to us by explaining how her son played baseball in the state for two seasons, I am unimpressed. One family member spends six months in our state and you have the nerve to suggest that you know what is best for us? My brother and his family have lived in Maryland (very close to you, I might add) for over 20 years—perhaps I should come over and run for governor; I’m obviously qualified. We have not “experienced the same trauma of having to fight the drug legalization movement.” We, as citizens of the great state of Montana, voted to legalize the compassionate use of medical cannabis. We embrace the idea of states’ rights in Montana. While we would never guess what would be best for the folks of Maryland, we’re pretty sure we know what works for us, here in Montana.

The boring re-assertions of how potent the “new” marijuana is compared to the ’60s is already so easily refuted and grandly false. Oddly, it seems as though the cannabis seed sellers who have been making these grand claims (completely without proof) so they can charge $20 to $40 per seed, have inadvertently fed the war on drugs hysteria about the magical, amazing potency of the new marijuana. Through reading peer reviewed scientific journal articles, my own personal analysis experience and discussing results with cannabis testing laboratories in other states, I can assure you there are very few growers out there talented enough to coax anything over 10 to 15 percent THC.

Luckily, through state-by-state legalization, a few brave scientists are able to glean factual knowledge about the cannabis being grown in this country. Cannabis has been found to contain hundreds of discreet compounds; THC is only one of them. When you say, “today, it (the THC level) goes as high as 47.5 percent,” I had to laugh out loud. To honestly believe that a plant can contain 47.5 percent of one compound is ridiculous. I believe water, H2O, would be that compound. What about chlorophyll, cellulose, starch? Is all this science boring you?

Again, your ignorance and hysteria overshadow any sympathy you might get for your position with ridiculous statements like, “Today’s marijuana is so potent, even the kids have nicknamed it ‘skunk’!” Those kids, aw shucks. Here’s another boring scientific fact for you: The compounds responsible for the wide variety of smells that emanate from various strains of cannabis have nothing to do with the level of THC. Skunk is only one of the smells evident in the different varieties of cannabis. You may be surprised to learn that cannabis can smell like frankincense, lemons, blueberries and even lavender. These odors come from some of the other hundreds of compounds found in cannabis.

I see by your signature, you are the “president” of the Drug-Free Kids: America’s Challenge in Maryland. Good for you. Nothing in our law suggests the legalization of cannabis for children everywhere. Our law allows adults and their doctors to decide on a constructive course of treatment for their debilitating conditions. So, this may embarrass you with your passionate plea, but we appear to already be on the same side of that issue.

In the meantime, please direct your energy and passions toward the citizens of Maryland. I’m sure they don’t appreciate you diverting your attention all the way across the country, when you could be dealing with the innumerable social injustices rampant in Maryland. We’ll worry about Montana.

Rose Habib

CannabAnalysis Labs

Missoula

Pot lady put down

Posted on Thu, Aug 12, 2010 at 4:00 AM

In a recent letter, Joyce Nalepka of “Drug Free Kids: America’s Challenge” made a number of interesting claims (see “Pot is strong, bad,” Aug. 5, 2010). I’ll address a few of them.

First though, please, Google search “Joyce Nalepka.” Catch her claiming that everyone who smokes a joint supports the “Afghanistani” drug dealers associated with 9/11. (What?) Or her claim that membership in Students for Sensible Drug Policy should be treated just like illegal drug use. (Witch hunt, anyone?)

Ms. Nalepka apparently would like to have the hundreds of thousands of Montanans who have ever consumed cannabis be arrested and incarcerated for their sins. This anachronistic prohibitionist fails to recognize fundamental principles of justice and liberty held dear by Montanans, and a few other pesky details known as “facts.”

In its 40-year history, NORML’s position has always been clear that there is nothing wrong with responsible adult use of marijuana, and that to treat adult use as a criminal matter is an expensive policy disaster and a moral outrage.

As for Ms. Nalepka’s claim of cannabis containing 47.5 percent THC: The government’s own data on the matter, gathered and analyzed by the Potency Monitoring Project at the University of Mississippi, finds that there has been a modest increase in average potency since the early 1980s, from around 4 percent to around 10 percent recently. However, this does’t make marijuana more dangerous—people simply use less.

 

Ms. Nalepka also implies that marijuana cannot be used as medicine. However, the federal government owns a patent (No. 6630507) on cannabinoids as neuroprotectants, there are thousands of studies that prove the clinical effectiveness of cannabis in combating a wide variety of ailments, and there’s an FDA-approved synthetic form of THC available as a prescription. At this point, to deny this natural plant’s medical value is absurd.

The tide is turning, and prohibitionists like Ms. Nalepka are fast becoming an endangered species. Montana’s medical marijuana program is a blessing for many people, but now it’s time to get past medical, and regulate cannabis for all adults.

John Masterson

Director

Montana NORML

Missoula

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Criticizing Plan C

Posted on Thu, Aug 5, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Cap and trade went nowhere. The proposal to allow the Environmental Protection Agency to impose heavy-handed regulations on greenhouse gases was a flop. So what’s Plan C for the Obama administration’s quixotic crusade against affordable American energy? Well, this one’s the most dangerous idea yet.

President Obama’s new proposal, found in his 2011 budget, is to prohibit American oil and natural gas companies from deducting their taxes paid to foreign governments from their U.S. income taxes.

It’s been long established in U.S. tax policy that American companies are allowed a credit for foreign taxes paid against their domestic income taxes. If we didn’t allow that, American companies would pay twice for the same income, essentially pricing them out of most foreign markets. It would put us at an insurmountable competitive disadvantage with companies from other countries.

President Obama’s proposal targets only oil and gas companies, and appears to be a thinly veneered attempt to restrict the energy supply in this country. This will ratchet up costs and force us to turn to foreign energy sources while alternative energy options develop over the next four to five decades.

The economic consequences of this proposal will be severe. Thousands of American jobs will be handed to foreign competitors. The stability of our energy supply will be threatened as we lose a huge share of the global energy market.

If the president’s first two command-and-control approaches to address climate change were bad, this one’s ten times worse. Take action—call Sens. Baucus and Tester and tell them to kill this proposal!

Jocelyn Galt

Missoula

Pot is strong, bad

Posted on Thu, Aug 5, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Although I live in Maryland and not Montana, I feel a strong connection to the state because one of my sons spent two summers there playing minor league baseball, and because Montana, like Maryland, experienced the same trauma of having to fight the drug legalization movement.

We discovered drug paraphernalia being sold in 31 outlets in our county just outside Washington, D.C. Another young mother who was a stay-at-home attorney and I co-sponsored a bill to close the shops in Maryland. We won a unanimous vote to pass the bill in 1980.

Because the shops were providing funds to the drug legalizers to pay for their pro-drug work, they literally came out of the woodwork when they started to see us speak at PTA meetings, on radio and TV, at Elks’ meetings and county council meetings. These outlets also sold books and magazines that claimed “marijuana was a harmless drug” that “helped you drive more safely,” made colors brighter, etc. In many of the shops, paraphernalia was sold out the front door and drugs out the back!

The founder of the pro-legalization movement under the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Keith Stroup, wrote a letter to the editor of High Times magazine that stated: “There is no particular evidence that even those few young people who smoked a great deal of marijuana hurt themselves, academically or otherwise.” NORML has little regard for the truth.

Robert L. DuPont, first director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, has said marijuana harms every major system of the body, including the brain, lungs, reproductive and immune systems. Make no mistake, the legalization movement is using the “medical” marijuana movement to achieve full legalization.

Just this last year, we documented 18 nations, including our own, that link marijuana use to depression, psychosis and schizophrenia.

Today’s marijuana is so potent, even the kids have nicknamed it “skunk”! In 1960, marijuana contained 4 to 6 percent of the ingredient that produces the “high.” Today, it goes as high as 47.5 percent.

To bring attention to the strength of marijuana and the need for legislators to help stop the so-called “medical” marijuana industry, we developed a Skunk Award that is given to any legislator who introduces, supports or signs a “medical” marijuana bill.

I urge the citizens of Montana to stand tall and motivate your friends, neighbors and relatives to say “no” to so-called “medical” pot.

We did get to know a lot of Montana folks because our son lived with a “host” family during the season. In fact, his host was a radio broadcaster and he became our guide around the area. I hope he sees this and helps spread the word throughout your beautiful state.

Joyce Nalepka

President

Drug-Free Kids: America’s Challenge

Silver Spring, Md.

Wishes, desires, immigration?

Posted on Thu, Aug 5, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Many of us Americans don’t agree with the way our federal government is handling the illegal immigration problem. We live in a country where the government is supposed to be the voice of its people, as well as do the bidding of its people. But lately the federal government is doing exactly the opposite. If you’d like to see something done about the illegal immigration problem, please write to Sens. Tester and Baucus, and Rep. Rehberg.

Please do not be complacent. It’s up to us to do our part. Many of us Americans want things to change but are so complacent we do nothing to make our wishes and desires happen. Please don’t allow that to happen in this situation.

Ryan D. Bennett

Hopewell, Va.

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