Pubdate: Sat, 05 May 2012
Source: Helena Independent Record (MT)
Copyright: 2012 Helena Independent Record
Author: Eve Byron


A documentary that follows the medical marijuana political debate in
Montana, as well as its impacts on people's lives, will be shown in
Helena later this month, followed by a panel discussion.

"Code of the West" is a film by Rebecca Richman Cohen. In a news
release for the movie, she notes how Montana is "at the forefront of
national attention" when it comes to medical marijuana.

"Once a pioneer in legalizing medical marijuana, the state of Montana
is poised to become the first in the nation to repeal its medical
marijuana law," Cohen wrote. "Set against the sweeping vistas of the
Rockies, the steamy lamplight of marijuana grow houses, and the
bustling halls of the State Capitol, 'Code of the West' follows the
2011 Montana State Legislature as it debates the fate of medical marijuana.

"This is the story of the many lives and fraught emotions tied to one
of the most heated policy questions facing the country today."

She adds that 16 states and the District of Columbia have legalized
marijuana, while the federal government is prosecuting the people who
grow and sell it.

The title of the movie was part of another debate taking place in the
legislature as three medical marijuana bills were winding their way
through the process. During the session, Senate President Jim Peterson
proposed a bill to have the "code of the West" be the official state
code of ethics.

Cohen said the debate over the code of the West -- which means
different things to different people -- was also a central debate over
medical marijuana.

"The question of course is not whether to live by a code, but rather
whose code: the pious, the libertarian, the entrepreneur, the local,
the regional, the national?" Cohen wrote. "If Montana's medical
marijuana debate tells us anything, it is this: there are many codes
of the West and the way in which they are reconciled -- or not -- has
profound implications for the way we live."

In the documentary, key figures on each side of the debate are
followed. Tom Daubert, a medical marijuana lobbyist who recently
reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors after his former
Helena-based business, Montana Cannabis, was raided by federal agents
in March 2011, is included. So is Speaker of the House Mike Milburn,
who sponsored a bill that would have repealed the medical marijuana
initiative, passed by voters in 2004, and make marijuana use a crime
again. That bill was vetoed by Gov. Brian Schweitzer, but he signed a
different reform bill that significantly limits the medical marijuana
industry in Montana.

The film will be screened in Helena at 7 p.m. May 17 and 18, at the
Myrna Loy Center. Following the May 17 film, a panel discussion will
be held. Panelists include Cohen, Helena Mayor Jim Smith, House
Speaker Milburn of Cascade (R-HD19), Montana Rep. Pat Noonan of Ramsey
(D-HD73), and Montana Cannabis Industry Association board member Chris

Smith said he's only seen a trailer of the documentary so he's not
sure what to expect.

"The trailer was sad," Smith said. "It ended with Tom Daubert walking
across what looks like Mount Helena, saying he sure didn't think he
would possibly spend the rest of his life in prison.

"I think a lot of people proceeded with this in good faith based on
the voter initiative, and people were trying to do the right thing
within the parameters of the law. Between the actions of the
legislature and the federal government, a lot of lives have been hurt."

Filmmaker Richman Cohen will also conduct a question-and-answer
session with the audience following the May 18 screening.

"Code of the West" premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival
in March 2012 and is an official selection of the Independent Film
Festival Boston 2012. The Montana screening tour also includes stops
in Missoula on May 15 and 23, Bozeman on May 16 and 21, and Billings
on May 22.

More information about the film, tickets and the trailer can be found
at .
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