2014 was certainly an historic year for marijuana. Oregon and Alaska joined Colorado and Washington with legalized recreational marijuana in their states, as well as the District of Columbia and Portland, Maine. After failing seven times since 2003, Congress finally passed a spending bill prohibiting the Department of Justice, including the Drug Enforcement Agency, from interfering with state medical marijuana and hemp laws and the US Department of Justice recently instructed US attorneys not to enforce marijuana prohibition on tribal land. Voters in Utah, Maryland, Minnesota, and New York approved medical marijuana. Stigma is dissolving as laws and attitudes change- the President of the United States stated that he doesn't think marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol. CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta reversed his stance on prohibition, offering our movement high-profile credibility. More Americans identify tobacco, alcohol and sugar as more harmful than marijuana. Our momentum is only increasing and the associated policy shifts are inevitable.
By the end of 2017, marijuana could be legal in 15 states and the District of Columbia. Unfortunately, Montana fell $199,162.34 short of the $200,000 fundraising goal that would have enabled us to pass a tax and regulate ballot initiative for 2016. Barring new funding sources, Montana is unlikely to be one of the states legalizing before 2018 as we raised a meager total of only $837.66 in 2014. Our website costs $828.00 per year, of which I have paid personally since it was implemented. We've remained completely dependent on volunteers for design and tech assistance and have saved all of the money we raised. Had the organization paid the website fees alone, we would have netted less than $10.00 in 2014, not including the inevitable cost of tax preparation in the next month.
Besides economic challenges, marijuana in Montana is also facing legislative challenges. The state's biennial legislative session is slated to begin in early 2015. As of today, at least a dozen bills directly regarding marijuana are being drafted, some of which are sponsored by allies of our cause, who are unfortunately politically outnumbered in our legislature. The others, being drafted by known prohibitionists seeking to force welfare recipients to be drug tested, prohibiting marijuana rule-making by any agency in Montana, and affirming that "Schedule I drugs are illegal" (thank you, Senator David Howard) are troubling. No evidence has thus far indicated that this legislature will be any more receptive to thoughtful marijuana law reform than those in 2011 and 2013.
Montana NORML's all-volunteer board's resources were stretched incredibly thin throughout the year and it has at times been difficult to remain encouraged, but we are very appreciative of the support we've received and remain engaged and dedicated to this cause. We look forward to another fascinating year in marijuana law reform and are hopeful that Montanans are more interested in a ballot initiative in 2020 than they were for one in 2016. Marijuana isn't going to legalize itself.
Download Montana NORML's 2014 annual report.