Montgomery reconciles with veteran over comment at marijuana debate

Apr 10, 2015, 6:00 AM | Updated: 6:00 am

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery met with Vietnam veteran Don Ream Wednesday to reconcile a dispute they had last month during a debate hosted by Tempe Republican Women.

During the March 23 debate, Ream told Montgomery he was offended by Montgomery’s use of the word “pothead” to describe marijuana users. He said Montgomery was “deceived” and that he “felt sorry” for the County Attorney.

Ream went on to say that he needs medical Marijuana to ease his chronic back pain. When he said “I’m a recreational user too,” Montgomery lashed out.
“Well, then you’re violating the law, and I have no respect for you.

“I have no respect for you as someone that would try to claim you served this country and took an oath to uphold the Constitution and defend it against all enemies foreign and domestic, because you’re an enemy,” he added.

“It was a horrible thing to say,” Ream said Thursday. “It still has hurt when I think back on it.”

Montgomery explained Thursday that marijuana use wasn’t the reason that he called Ream and enemy. It was the fact that he is a fellow military veteran who told everyone he breaks the law. Montgomery would have said the same thing regardless of what law he thought that Ream was breaking.

“If someone attempts to utilize their veteran status to encourage people to commit a felony, whether it’s drug use, fraud, forgery, tax evasion, or what have you, I would take the same position,” Montgomery said. “A veteran should not brag about breaking the law and encourage other people to break the law.”

But, now, looking back on the incident, Montgomery realizes something. “(Breaking the law) is not how he (Ream) was viewing it, and that’s not what he was trying to communicate,” he said.

Montgomery came to that realization after the two men decided to sit down and settle their differences Wednesday. The meeting happened at the offices of Mark Victor, the attorney with whom Montgomery was debating during last month’s event.

During the meeting, Ream explained to Montgomery how he views his marijuana use.

“If you have a cocktail in the evening, to me, that is a recreational activity,” Ream said. “I choose not to have a cocktail. I choose Cannabis instead. Marijuana. To many, that would be recreation. In my mind, it is, somewhat, but that is still my medication.”

Montgomery told Ream that the law doesn’t see it that way. It differentiates between medical marijuana for medicinal purposes, which is legal, and recreational use of marijuana, which is illegal.

But Montgomery said that while the two men disagree, “that disagreement doesn’t make him (Ream) the enemy of anybody else.”

Ream said the two men made amends.

“He apologized,” said Ream. “I accept his apology. I don’t believe in vengeance or whatever.”

Montgomery said that Ream also apologized to him.

“If anybody took what he said as encouraging unlawful conduct, that was not what he was trying to communicate,” said Montgomery. “I think it was a mutual misunderstanding of what the other was trying to say.”

When asked if apologies were accepted on both sides, Montgomery said “sure.”

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Montgomery reconciles with veteran over comment at marijuana debate