Cannabis Opponent: Cancer Patients should try praying

The Medical Marijuana Wars have heated up in Montana.  There are three competing visions.  First, an outright prohibition.  Steve Zabawa is the man behind I-176, a failed ballot measure that would have made cannabis fully illegal in Montana with no exceptions, even for people suffering end-stage cancer.  He has spent over $200,000 of his own money to make it happen (Zabawa owns a Mercedes dealership in Billings).  But he failed to gather enough signatures to get his measure onto the ballot and so he is now making a last ditch effort to claim that the Kalispell elections office misplaced thousands of signature petition sheets.

Why would a person waste his time and money on this effort at a time when cancer patients and others with serious disease are finding new hope for pain management with medical cannabis?  The answer probably won’t surprise you.  On his website, Zabawa suggests that the cancer patients should instead find “other ways to cope, such as going to work, physical exercise, hobbies, or praying.”

Zabawa has also written that in high school and college he “believed illegal drugs were harmless and a great way to party.”  But now that he’s done his share, he says they ruin the lives of others, and so he’s changed his mind.  In his writings, he treats medical marijuana no differently than heroin, meth or crack.  In fact the logo on his Safe Montana website seems even to imply that alcohol should also be made illegal.  

And as with most right-wingers, the hypocrisy is always right around the corner.  Zabawa once tried to profit from a medical marijuana scheme.  A medical grower in Billings sought to rent out premises owned by Zabawa, but according to the Billings Gazette the deal fell apart when Zabawa demanded that he receive 10% of all proceeds from sales of weed.

The second vision is embodied in a 2011 law that gutted a citizen initiative that had authorized medical cannabis. That law limits providers to only three patients apiece, and would thus put out of business most medical growers and make it impossible for patients to get medical marijuana. That law, after being suspended amid years of legal challenges, is scheduled to finally go into effect at the end of August, according to a recent court order.

The third vision, the one everyone should support, would restore rationality to what we have on the ground now, a well-regulated medical industry in which growers can keep themselves in business and patients can obtain what they need. A ballot measure, I-182, has qualified for the ballot in 2016 that will enshrine this regime.

Two interesting questions. First, what happens in the unlikely event that both the pro and anti ballot measures are voted up? Answer: A court might make a ruling but probably the legislature would end up having to resolve it. That’s what Zabawa is hoping for, for the last time the legislature took up this issue it created the horrible 2011 law which is about to go into effect. That effort was led by Sen. Jeff Essmann and other religious conservatives, of which Zabawa is one (he is an active member of the Mormon church where doctrine requires adherents to eschew not only drugs, but alcohol and even stimulants such as caffeine as well. Not all Mormons follow these rules. Whether Zabawa does is unknown).

Second question: why shouldn’t the implementation date for the 2011 law be pushed back to December or January so that the voters can decide the issue once and for all? Might not the the 2011 law be mooted by passage of one of the ballot measure? This question is being litigated in state court as we speak. The I-182 proponents, led by Kate Cholewa the longtime pro-cannabis activist and lobbyist, are asking a judge to delay implementation of the 2011 law until after the election. The Attorney General’s office is fighting against it, seeking to have the 2011 law go into effect at the end of August. Tim Fox has gotten some heat for it.  Two weeks ago the prominent Helena citizen Bob Ream, who is suffering from pancreatic cancer, wrote a public letter to Fox explaining that that he’s found it to be be very helpful while he undergoes treatment. He called on Fox to allow voters to decide the issue in November. The Cowgirl Blog strongly agrees with Ream.  Fox should tell the judge that he agrees with a January effective date for the stupidity-packed 2011 law.

The voters decided in 2004, by an overwhelming majority, that cannabis should be legal as medicine. Twelve years later, voters are being forced to repeat themselves.


21 Comments on "Cannabis Opponent: Cancer Patients should try praying"

  1. I hardly know how to respond to this sanctimonious hypocrite. I’m a 65 year-old veteran carting around half a pound of steel in my body that causes me endless pain. Nature gave me a cure, Big Pharma another-and they seem to be seriously threatened by the number of us who choose Nature over Big Business. I’m an adult and the 9th Amendment was put in the Bill of Rights to cover just such personal decisions as this. Also abortions, tattoos and weird hair cuts-it’s shameful SCOTUS has refused to rule on this issue and instead tried pawning it off as an extension of the 10th Amendment. Our Founders clearly saw this as two different issues-one State and the other Personal. Both need protected.

  2. As far as I know, cytochrome errors do not effect cannabis, but all of big pharma’s pets are. As a major cytochrome error person looking at possible return of bone tumors, I find the pray, work, legal drugs comment not just offensive, but life threatening.

  3. I wish the Montana Republicans would quit trying to force people to live as THEY demand. Today’s MTGOP and Conservative Republicans are 100% against personal freedom and liberty, they are in fact flirting with Fascism and it must be stopped.

  4. My son died a little over two years ago from esophageal/stomach cancer. If he had not had cannabis to relieve side effects from chemo, radiation, etc., his ability to be comfortable and die with some dignity would have been compromised even more than it was. It gave him relief. To think that someone should suffer when relief is available is not only Un-Christian, it is truly heartless. I would never wish such a thing on anyone, but I would consider it seriously in the case of these righteous hypocrites.

  5. I have written over 2000 medical marijuana recommendations for patients
    80% of these patients are entirely off opiates for the chronic pain.
    Many have decreased their dependence on for the circles by over 50%
    Half of my rheumatoid arthritis patients are on no other medications at all besides cannabis
    Cannabis is not a gateway drug – it’s an exit drug
    If marijuana is a gateway to heroin, then kissing is a gateway to AIDS.
    The evidence is in: no one in human history has ever died from marijuana related complication or overdose
    Tim Fox has actually guaranteed that more illegal activity will occur by driving this economy
    Has actually guaranteed that more illegal activity will occur by driving this becoming to me underground . I’m sure the Mexicans have already sent a semi tractor full of their marijuana to Montana to satisfy the
    . I am sure the Mexicans have Artie sent a semi tractor full of their marijuana to Montana to satisfy the market and I have no doubt there’s other things on the truck besides marijuana
    Once again, the law of unintended consequences is about to land on Montanans and their families.
    We must do whatever we can to keep access to this life saving and agony protecting Herb.

  6. In 2004, a majority of Montana voters (keep in mind that includes all political parties)made it clear that they supported legalizing cannabis as medicine. Now, Montana voters are being asked to clear up the chaos created after that vote and it looks like I- 182 can do that. A well-regulated medical industry would be a relief as cannabis certainly has it’s place in treating people who have a true need it.

  7. How much is GW Pharma paying Steve and will a forensic audit of his holdings or any accounts that he is a fiduciary duty for show a financial conflict of interest here ? I met Steve May 26 in Billings. His first concern was that I was an attorney. He gave me the creeps.

  8. This all comes to a halt because of today’s announcement by the DEA to keep cannabis as a schedule 1 drug. The DEA will probably start cracking down on the dispensaries and individuals growing their own. Interesting article in USA Today concerning the DEA’s questionable seizure of funds to augment the budgets of state and local agencies. This was America once where you had to be proven guilty prior to any governmental body taking assets away from you.
    What this will do for the State of Montana’s medical cannabis remains to be seen. People like Zabawa need to spend some time in a cancer ward and watch the destruction of an individual from the effects of this horrible disease. Or maybe spend some time with a person experiencing the effects of MS. Thank you America for taking another dump on our veterans that sought to have this medicine available for their use. We should all be very proud-right?

    • The ninth circuit just ruled in favor of state regulated MM programs. I doubt a full blown Federal crackdown is likely. Half the states have some form of legalized cannabis now, and it’s on the ballot in 10, including Montana. Here in Oregon, where we enjoy full on legalization, everything is going quite smoothly.

  9. I’m with Coltyn….It’s better to be illegally alive, than legally dead. What is wrong with a government that had rather have people die and suffer, than live? A man made LAW should never trump a God given life.

  10. Just another right wing fake Christian. To take treatment from a cancer patient is one thing but to deny a child cannabis from bone breaking seizures of 200 a week is out right inhumane. He is a person of ulterior motives and they aren’t for the good of any one but Zabawa.

  11. What a hypocrite! Why doesn’t he come down with a life changing pain that doctors don’t want to treat with opioids because if that doctor wright’s to many prescriptions then the feds step in and slap them with a hefty fine. So! I guess my point is if you can’t get your medicine from your medical provider why go to them? All this will do is make the people that benefit from mmj criminals, because one day that patient is going to seek their mmj and get caught and go to jail.

  12. I actually had it happen to me at the V.A. “If I don’t do what the DEA tells me they will take away my license to write prescriptions”. Is what a doctor told me. So who do these people work for anyway?

  13. Zabawa and Church Lady Cherie Brady are on a mission from GOD !.. Their God !…Not yours!.. …and Godammit you better listen up ! Marijuana Kills people ! And it made a poor little pot addicted 6th grade girl turn to prostitution on the playground for a marijuana cookie !!!! . These FACTS were part of testimony given to the Montana Legislator’s ,by these two ignorant Bible Thumpers.

  14. The only thing that makes me uncomfortable is the dishonesty engendered by having Marijuana legalized only for medical purposes. With full legalization, casual users are not encouraged to think of themselves as sick. I would still like to reserve a state program of quality control, however, for those who need Marijuana for pain and seizure management.

  15. One can be damned sure that if prayer actually worked, that slimy jerk would have more hair on his head than Fabio.

  16. I can appreciate Steve Zabawa’s concerns about so-called “medical marijuana” availability in the general population; however, this paragraph from the Billings newspaper deeply affects my appreciation of Zabawa’s honesty:

    “Zabawa said it was true he proposed taking a portion of Higgins’ profits in addition to base rent, which he called a typical arrangement when a property owner leases space to a retailer. He also said Higgins, who was then expanding from a home operation, had little money at the time.”

  17. Zaba needs to just go back to tending his lemonade stand.

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