Code of the West - A film by Rebecca Richman Cohen
Recent Reviews

Eye-opening... gripping
     Liliana Segura, The Nation

Powerful, enlightening, and beautiful. Watch it now.
     Phillip Smith, Drug War Chronicle

A very human, deeply engrossing and elegantly crafted film
     David Noh, Film Journal International

Recent News

2/2014 Salon calls Code of the West one of the best movies about America's drug war: "Brilliant.... a gripping human tale... skillfully blends policy with pathos." Link to read article
12/2013 Code of the West wins the CINE Golden Eagle Award for Investigative Reporting!
4/2013 Sundance Institute #ArtistServices is distributing Code of the West online
2/1/2013 On Friday a federal judge sentenced Chris Williams to five years in prison. The judge called certain mandatory minimum sentences "absurd and unfair" and went on to call Chris “a principled man, stubborn in his beliefs, (who) remains steadfast in his conviction that he has done nothing wrong.” Read more.
12/18/2012 Helena IR, Most of Chris Williams’ marijuana convictions to be dropped. "In a highly unusual move, federal prosecutors have agreed to drop six of eight marijuana convictions for Christopher Williams in exchange for his agreeing to waive his right to appeal. In addition, the government has agreed to ask U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen to dismiss the criminal forfeiture awarded to the government by a jury earlier this year."
11/7/2012 Our video opinion piece in the New York Times goes viral! More than 2000 tweets and we made number two on the homepage of reddit. Read/watch our Op-Doc HERE.
10/25/2012 Helena IR Article: Medical marijuana provider Chris Williams rejects post-conviction plea offer. Williams rejected a post-conviction offer than would take more than 70 years off his sentence in exchange for waiving his right to appeal. Williams writes, “Every citizen has a responsibility to fight for what is right, even if it seems like the struggle will be lost... It is the power of the people to control this government that is supposed to protect us. If we shun this struggle, this government will control us instead of protecting us.”
9/27/2012 Chris Williams, one of the medical marijuana growers featured in Code of the West was convicted this week. This article suggests he may be facing a minimum sentence of 45 years in federal prison. That is incorrect. We heard directly from Chris' lawyer that the minimum sentence he is facing is 92 years for these charges.
9/21/2012 IndieWire Article: Did Rebecca Richman Cohen's Medical Marijuana Documentary Save a Man from Prison? We're flattered by the headline, but the truth is that the film is one many factors that led to Tom Daubert's probation.
9/19/2012 ACLU of Montana's Code of the West screening series inspires important statewide conversations. See news coverage
9/11/2012 According to the Associated Press "The Montana Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a ban on medical marijuana sales does not violate the constitutional rights of registered users or providers, overturning a lower judge's decision to block part of lawmakers' restrictive rewrite of state regulations.... 'In pursuing one's own health, an individual has a fundamental right to obtain and reject medical treatment. But, this right does not extend to give a patient a fundamental right to use any drug, regardless of its legality,' the opinion by Justice Michael Wheat said. 'The Plaintiffs cannot seriously contend that they have a fundamental right to medical marijuana when it is still unequivocally illegal under the Controlled Substances Act,' Wheat wrote... The ruling comes less than two months before voters make their own decision on the matter. A ballot initiative asks voters to reject the Legislature's restrictive law, and return to the original law enacted by voters in 2004." Read entire AP Article
9/10/2012 Montanans react to Tom Daubert's sentencing: "By rejecting the Draconian federal recommendations, [Judge] Christensen saved taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars a year in incarceration costs, stood with a well-respected fellow Montanan, and brought much-needed sanity to federal drug sentencing." Read Article
9/6/2012 Tom Daubert, a drug policy reform activist with a long history of work for humane medical marijuana laws, received 5 years probation and $50,000 in federal forfeiture fees in a decision reached today by federal US District Court. "I'm grateful for the judge's leniency but I will never stop believing that patients deserve to live under a law that recognizes true science," says Daubert. Daubert's former business, Montana Cannabis, was raided by federal agents in March 2011 (as documented in Code of the West). Despite having worked closely with state and local law enforcement leaders throughout his involvement in marijuana production for state-legal patients, Tom was prevented from submitting a defense under federal law that his company complied with Montana’s medical marijuana law. He was facing a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Read more about Tom's sentencing in this Missoulian article.
9/5/2012 ACLU of Montana is launching a statewide screening series of Code of the West with free screenings and discussions accorss Montana this fall. The series is part of its mission to educate the public about medical marijuana, the enforcement of current drug laws, and the impact that this policy is having on prison overpopulation. For more information, check out their website.
8/30/2012 Richard Flor died in federal custody on Thursday. Richard was one of the four partners in Montana Cannabis, the medical marijuana growhouse profiled in Code of the West. He had a long history of health problems and was being held in a private prison in Montana without access to adequate medical facilities. For months, federal authorities delayed his transfer to a federal prison where he could have received appropriate medical care - and denied his attorney's request to release Richard while he appealed his five year sentence for growing medical marijuana. U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell wrote in his Aug. 7 order that it was "unfortunate" that Flor's transfer to a Bureau of Prisons medical facility was delayed, but "it is not factually or legally significant." Our thoughts and prayers are with Richard’s family – and we hope the injustice of his story inspires outrage, activism, and ultimately a change in criminal justice policies.
6/2012 Filmmaker Rebecca Richman Cohen (and other non-practicing law school grads) profiled in Documentary magazine. From the Courtroom to the Edit Room: When Lawyers Shift Careers
5/22/2012 After a screening of Code of the West in Billings, Montana, organizers convened a panel discussion with community leaders and people profiled in the film. According to KTVQ, audience members questioned the claims that opponents of medical marijuana made about teen use of marijuana being on the rise in light of "a 2011 study by the Montana Office of Public Instruction [that] showed a steady decrease in teen usage of marijuana. The opponents to the industry on the panel, State Senator Jim Essmann and Cherrie Brady, chair of Safe Communities Safe Kids, told the audience the statistics did not change their stance on the issue." Read Article
5/18/2012 According to KLXH News: "Helena Mayor Jim Smith has taken a bold stand on marijuana, saying on Thursday that the drug should be legalized. Smith sat on a panel after screening a new medical marijuana documentary called Code of the West. Smith surprised the audience by pulling out a bumper sticker and announcing that he supports legalizing the plant." Watch News Segment
5/18/2012 Associated Press article on Code of the West panel discussion in Helena: following the film screening, a crowd heckled Speaker of the House, Mike Milburn, "when he declined to disclose the source for his assertion that schoolchildren were 'pimping' themselves out for marijuana." Read Article
5/17/2012 Article on Code of the West panel discussion in Bozeman: "Nobody can say with a straight face that the war on drugs is succeeding,” agreed [former sheriff] Cashell. Rep. Wiseman asserted that though efforts to regulate and reform the state’s medical marijuana industry, initiated by the industry itself, had begun in the 2009 legislative session, politics did the industry in." Read Article
5/16/2012 Article on Code of the West panel discussion in Missoula: “the perfect storm of a legal mess.” State Rep. Diane Sands said, “Social change is messy. Social movements are messy... That it’s such a mess causes people to get out and do something about it.” Read Article
5/15/2012 Montana Public Radio's Sally Mauk interviews filmmaker Rebecca Richman Cohen. Listen to Interview
5/3/2012 From the Missoulian: "Medical marijuana advocate Tom Daubert pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Thursday to a charge of conspiracy to maintain drug-involved premises. Daubert, 59, faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a $500,000 fine and three years’ supervised probation. U.S. Magistrate Jeremiah Lynch set sentencing for Sept. 6." Read Article
4/19/2012 Filmmaker Rebecca Richman Cohen quoted in CNBC Special Report on medical marijuana, “There seems to be a huge disparity among states as to how marijuana laws are enforced." Read Article
3/10/2012 Filmmaker Rebecca Richman Cohen writes for the Tribeca Film Institute about her four major influences. Read Article
9/29/2012 Tom Daubert was an architect of the state's medical marijuana law. Now he's a convicted felon. Read Article

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