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  • Christopher Smith, Editor-in-Chief

Cannabis Dog Whistle: Local Control

This story is dedicated to my friend Susan Soares, my inspiration, mentor, and wonderful friend. And a shout out to Menakah Mehajan for sourcing this story from the Great Falls Tribune. The headline is GREAT FALLS COUPLE FILES SUIT AGAINST MARIJUANA SALE BAN WITHIN CITY LIMITS.As a hint, I’ve added my own subhead to describe the problem “Local Control Pollutes Big Sky Country.

It seems at first to be a small, local story set in a faraway state about a little dispensary suing the big town council for a license to operate … at first blush it seems to be a David vs. Goliath story at best… Matt Damon gets chubby and plays the lead in the movie … but I think, and pretty sure Menakah would agree, that it’s emblematic of a bigger theme that’s insidiously infected the cannabis industry nationwide. And we have to be aware of it and we have to fight back.

Ah... I do love a good conspiracy.


What happened in this story is a straightforward Town Council power-play. The Tribune says, “Janelle and Dale Yatsko have operated Green Creek Dispensary outside city limits for 14 years, where they started with medical sales, according to court documents. They were licensed by the Cannabis Control Division through the Department of Revenue to grow and dispense adult-use cannabis soon after the passage of REC sales statewide in 2021.”

“The couple then filed a Safety Inspection Certificate application with the city of Great Falls to allow them to operate in a location within city limits in February. But City Manager Greg Doyon denied the application, citing how the federal law on marijuana sales has not changed and a city ordinance passed in 2010 prohibited the sale or production of marijuana within city limits.

Just at that moment, Cascade County Commissioners voted unanimously to limit zoning for dispensaries to two heavy industrial zones outside of Great Falls city limits. The Yatsko’s appealed, it was denied, and City Council decided to make a referendum to “Opt-Out” of adult use sales…

In accordance with HB 701, Cascade County is a “green” county, meaning the majority of its voters voted in favor of recreational legalization, and can only fully prohibit production and sale of cannabis through a ballot referendum election.” So that’s why the County is going for the referendum.


But hold on there, cowboys, that horse has already left the barn. “In November 2020, Cascade County had voted with 54.7% in favor to approve the law that legalized REC in Montana.”

The people have spoken.

Let’s be crystal clear, what Cascade County is trying to do is ignore the will of the people. The County is trying to bully them back into submission and push cannabis into the shadows, or in this case, deep into the industrial section of town which is located on the other side of the tracks … does that ring any bells among our readers?

Let’s not forget that the original mythology against cannabis included the line that it’s used by jazz musicians, which is code for black men.


“Local Control” is just another example of what Dr. Felicia mentioned on the State of Cannabis News Hour today: dog whistles.

In plain English, “Local Control” is a classic bait-and-switch euphemism used by Prohibitionists to put the hurt on our industry. It doesn't mean local control, it is a conspiracy to control the expansion of the cannabis industry. It’s no different than “State’s Rights,” the original dog whistle / secret code for "we want to keep our slaves," now used for for abuse by gun manufacturers and lobbyists to mean "we want to keep our guns because we're afraid of black people" and now in the abortion conversation to mean "we want to control women, too"

This little Montana village story is not "David vs. Goliath," it’s the Trojan Horse. Show ignorant people something shiny and sexy and they’ll bring it inside the walls. Tell people “they have the power” and they can be manipulated to exercise it in strange ways.

There’s a straight line from “State’s Rights” to “Local Control” to January 6th … they’re three versions of the same corrupt thinking.

Stealing the will of the people is un-American and this seductive fairy tale of “local control” must be stamped out like the disease it is.


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