UPDATED: Anti Cannabis Crusader Group Has Only 7 Donors: Let’s Meet Them

SafeMontana, the group that is opposing an effort to fix MT’s medical cannabis laws has raised 100% percent of approximately $125,000 in contributions in 2016 from just seven donors, the Montana Cowgirl Blog has learned.


According to the COPP 2016 filings, six people other than its leader Mr. Steve Zabawa of Billings, have contributed to SafeMontana, which earlier this year failed to collect enough signatures to put an absolute ban on cannabis in Montana on the ballot with no exceptions (even as medicine for people suffering end-stage cancer).


One of this select group is GOP Billings legislative candidate Robert Saunders. Another is Supreme Court Kristen Juras.


Most of the rest came from Zabawa himself, as the Billings Gazette reported earlier.  Saunders donated nearly $1,500 toward the effort, while Juras donated $50. (To be sure, Juras is running a statewide supreme court campaign that has raised less than many state legislative candidates.) Here is the report showing Juras and Zabawa are the only donors for that period.  Here is the report in which Saunders and Zabawa are the sole donors – and here’s a screenshot showing the other four total donors.



Screenshot taken from Safe Montana website

The revelation makes it a lot harder for anyone to think of opposition to I-182 as anything but driven by a handful of extremists. In fact the logo on the Safe Montana website seems even to imply that alcohol should also be made illegal.


It seems like an obvious point that these decisions should be made by doctors, not car dealers.


Screenshot of SafeMontana Logo Source: SafeMontana website

By passing I-182, Montanans can actually lay down the foundation for a workable medical marijuana program, one that requires accountability and responsibility from program participants while also protecting access for patients.

There is a lot of great info on this that you can read, including the complete text of I-182 at www.yeson182.org
 UPDATE: After this post, the Great Falls Tribune has a story up by Phil Drake on Juras’ donation and the ethical questions it raises.  http://gftrib.com/2e99dBD

13 Comments on "UPDATED: Anti Cannabis Crusader Group Has Only 7 Donors: Let’s Meet Them"

  1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/10/12/police-arrest-more-people-for-marijuana-use-than-for-all-violent-crimes-combined/?hpid=hp_hp-more-top-stories-2_marijuana-740a%3Ahomepage%2Fstory

    On any given day in the United States, at least 137,000 people sit behind bars on simple drug-possession charges, according to a report released Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch.

    Nearly two-thirds of them are in local jails. The report says that most of these jailed inmates have not been convicted of any crime: They’re sitting in a cell, awaiting a day in court, an appearance that may be months or even years off, because they can’t afford to post bail.

    “It’s been 45 years since the war on drugs was declared, and it hasn’t been a success,” lead author Tess Borden of Human Rights Watch said in an interview. “Rates of drug use are up not down. Drug dependency has not stopped. Every 25 seconds, we’re arresting someone for drug use.”

    Federal figures on drug arrests and drug use over the past three decades tell the story. Drug-possession arrests skyrocketed, from fewer than 200 arrests for every 100,000 people in 1979 to more than 500 in the mid-2000s. The drug-possession rate has since fallen slightly, according to the FBI, hovering near 400 arrests per 100,000 people.

  2. How is it that Saunders can list an address in Sheridan, Wyoming, yet run for a legislative district in Billings, Montana? Seems fishy. Hopefully Ms. Karjala and her people look into, or have looked into, his residency.

    This should be enough ammunition to rally the medical cannabis supporters to support Sandefur. It once again shows that Juras is an extremist, a fanatic, and a far right advocate. Not good qualities to have when running for Supreme Court.

  3. Where do you see that Robert Saunders has an address in Sheridan, Wyoming Infamous?

  4. Thank you.

  5. They may have only 7 donors but Zawba has Senator Jeff Essman in his back pocket. He has for years. Zawba threatened Essman that if Essman ever lets any MedMari or other drug bills pass the Montana Legislature. Zawba will recruit and finance a candidate to run against Essman. Essman as President of the Senate in the 2011 Legislature delayed any action on the MedMari bill and then at the last minute included the amendment regarding number of patients growers could serve.

    • You also have to realize that little Stevie has the Yellowstone County commissioners and the Billings Gazette in his back pocket……just follow the money-naming rights to Metra? Biggest advertiser aside from St. Vincent’s and Billings Clinic?
      After listening to this little asshole on Q-2 last week speaking about his view of medical cannabis, he came off sounding more like a little kid in the sandbox that doesn’t always get his way, he’ll take his toys home and won’t play with you anymore. What a twit!

  6. Just my two cents wort as a patient-even the new proposed law is too parsimonious as to possession limits-I grow my own and like most produce in Montana I only get one harvest per season. Four plants does allow me to grow enough to last the year but if I follow the letter of the law I have to destroy all of my harvest except for one ounce-so what do I do the other 50 weeks of the year? I know I could grow indoors and get a steady production but only at great cost and effort-and even then a simple bug infestation can ruin me for 3 months! I suppose in the end complete legalization is really the only workable response. Kinda like Obamacare and Single Payer!

    • Bob, I would personally like to see the law be made to allow for home cultivation of up to 6 plants at any one time and possession of 200 Grams by any citizen 21 years of age or greater.

      I enjoy growing my own and know what was used for the nutrients.

  7. Thank you for highlighting Juras’ opposition to medical marijuana. You have saved me from having to suffer her website to obtain the information.

  8. I found the update to this post very interesting. If what Judge Pinksi said about judges being prohibited from making political contributions is true, then PSC candidate Caron Cooper needs to return the money she accepted from District Judge Brenda Gilbert.

  9. Zabawa and Essman are both Mormons. Nuff-said

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