Kudos on your Dec. 4 editorial panning Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette's recent statewide tour, "Clearing the Air: Implementing and Enforcing Michigan's Medical Marijuana Law."
Patients were not invited to this taxpayer-funded seminar -- or the free luncheon that followed -- only law enforcement and local government officials were welcome. When patients asked to attend they were denied.
Your editors weren't the only ones left with the impression this seminar was heavy on ways to thwart and circumvent the new law and light on what might be in the best interests of those most impacted -- the patients.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette claims he is trying to bring the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act into line with what the voters had in mind. In 2008, Schuette led the opposition to the ballot initiative which eventually passed in every Michigan county, approved by 63 percent of all voters statewide. How can someone who got it so wrong the first time be so confident he knows the mind of the voters this time?
Don't be hoodwinked by the attorney general's humbug. The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act is working exactly the way it was intended. Tens of thousands of responsible, law-abiding but seriously ill patients use the medication that they have found most effective without fear of arrest and ruination.
Many local governments have passed enabling ordinances allowing dispensaries to operate in a responsible manner, taking marijuana sales off the streets and out of neighborhoods, instead moving those transfers into safe, well-lit and tax-paying businesses.
There has been no rash of medical marijuana mayhem on the highway, and the drugs most likely to be abused by Michigan teens are still alcohol and prescription meds, not marijuana.
Is the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act being routinely violated? Absolutely -- by the State of Michigan. The Act requires the state to issue medical marijuana cards within 20 days. It currently takes five to six months. The law also mandates creation of a panel to review applications for additional qualifying conditions. The review board has yet to be impanelled. Curiously, the attorney general has never enforced those provisions of the law.
In a civil society, citizens seek the middle ground. Reasonable people accept reasonable regulation. The medical marijuana community has proven itself both amenable to regulation by local units of government and committed to a high degree of self regulation on its own.
Yet the attorney general refuses to sit down at the table with anyone from the community, or even let them in the door.
Those who aspire to govern a free people must seek input from a wide spectrum of opinion. Those who surround themselves only with people who already share a particular bias and viewpoint risk operating in an echo chamber.
If the attorney general is sincere about defending the law and upholding the will of the voters, he really ought to start by enforcing the medical marijuana act as written, not lobbying to gut it.
About the author: Greg Francisco, M.A., of Paw Paw, is a longtime activist for common sense drug law reform. He is a founding member of MI NORML, the co-founder of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association and a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. His career has included stints as a federal law enforcement officer, an elementary school counselor and entrepreneur.
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