America’s criminal jurisprudence rests on this universally-accepted principle: when reasonable doubt exists as to an alleged “evil”, we must choose liberty not government intrusion and punishment. This principle upholds the value of individual liberty and effectively limits State intrusion. Sadly, Montana’s criminal laws regarding marijuana reject this principle. Instead, Montana’s laws choose government intrusion over individual liberty. This must change.

Montana enacted the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) about forty years ago. The CSA made certain activities illegal relative to the listed drugs. The CSA classifies the level of a drug’s “danger” by placing it in Schedules I through V, with Schedule I deemed the most dangerous drugs.

Drugs listed in Schedule I are considered to be without any value whatsoever, not even medical. Section 50-32-221, MCA states, “The board shall place a drug in Schedule I if it finds that the drug: (1) has high potential for abuse; and (2) has no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or lacks accepted safety for use in treatment under medical supervision.” Included in Schedule I of the CSA is marijuana.

In utter contrast, since 2004 Montana has rejected the Schedule I description of marijuana and declared its value. Despite this declaration, Montana’s legislators have left marijuana on Schedule I as a completely useless and dangerous drug.

Consequently, many honest, tax-paying, family-raising Montana citizens are subject to irrational criminal prosecution and their lives have been seriously damaged. As a former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, I have seen this up close.

By leaving marijuana on Schedule I, Montana’s legislators have undermined America’s most basic principle of criminal law. This must change.

We can no longer subject Montanans to State criminal prosecution where our laws—not to mention our science and experience—demonstrate there is reasonable doubt about marijuana being a dangerous drug. Marijuana must be removed from Schedule 1 of the CSA. Liberty and our society will benefit as a result.

If I become elected in November for Montana State House District 4, I will work to ensure America’s most accepted principle of criminal jurisprudence is acknowledged and enforced in Montana: when reasonable doubt exists as to an alleged “evil”, I will choose liberty not government intrusion and punishment.

Timothy Baldwin
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