Time to rally
Medicinal pot ruling rocks dispensary community; mass meeting in Lansing planned
Published: August 31, 2011
The law enforcement community has a vested interest in seeing the War on Drugs continue. Like marauding armies, they help perpetuate themselves by seizing the assets of those unfortunate enough to fall victim to them.
No one should've ever believed that the prohibitionists would give up easily.
In a recent conversation with one of the shakers in the state's medical marijuana movement, we were told that those who support a liberal approach to the issue would eventually win out because "we have right on our side."
But being right doesn't win battles. Organization and effort do.
Which brings us to the point at hand. Michigan's medical marijuana users — and the businesses the law has helped create — have their backs up against a brick wall. And Schuette and his fellow prohibitionists are far from finished when it comes to pushing folks further into the bricks.
A package of bills recently introduced in the state Legislature is designed to place even more restrictions on patients and their access to medicine.
What should the community's response be?
Many that we've talked to advocate a campaign directed at the Legislature. If only our lawmakers are given the facts, these advocates reason, they will see the light and do the right thing. These advocates correctly note that it is not just simply a Republican vs. Democrat kind of issue. For one thing, fiscal conservatives can find reason to support changes that result in increased jobs and tax revenues at a time when the state needs both badly. And libertarians on the right agree with the view that government shouldn't be in the prohibition business.
However, we're frankly skeptical that the current Legislature is enlightened enough to open the way for dispensaries. But maybe we're wrong about that. As pointed out by Dan Riffle, a legislative analyst for the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project — eight states have created a system of regulated dispensaries since the Michigan law was first approved, and that in the vast majority of those states it was legislatures (rather than the public working through the ballot process) that initiated the changes.
However, there are some activists who are already looking ahead to the possibility that another ballot measure will be necessary to set things right here in Michigan. The big question at this point is whether such an effort should focus on strengthening the existing marijuana law by explicitly calling for legalized dispensaries and making other changes that will protect growers and guarantee patient access to their medicine, or to seek outright legalization.
It's an issue that is sure to be discussed in coming weeks.
What is certain, however, is that no change — whether though the Legislature or at the ballot box — is going to be achieved without an outpouring of public support. That means patients, their families and caregivers. It also means the accountants and lawyers and plumbers and electricians and grow shop owners and all the others who have seen the economic benefits that the law has already brought.
It also requires support from the rest of us who want to live in a state that is forward-looking and more prosperous.
To that end, there is a chance for everyone to flex their collective political muscle come Sept. 7, when what is hoped to be a large rally will be held on the steps of the state Capitol in Lansing.
They rally already has an array of support from groups that haven't always worked together in the past.
"There has never been this many medical marijuana groups coming together for one event in Michigan's history," Joe Cain, an activist with the Michigan Medical Marijuana Assn., said in a statement.
To find out more about the rally, contact Cain at 248-961-6106, or Rich Thompson of the Michigan Association of Compassion Centers at 248-721-3518.
> Email Curt Guyette