The debate continues and the people’s movement appears to be causing the issue to be placed before the voters in the upcoming November election. Michigan is poised to become the 10th state to approve the recreational use of Marijuana if voters say yes to the controversial proposal. Michigan received more than enough signatures necessary to place the matter on the ballot. Organizers for The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol turned in 360,000 signatures last year and the signatures have yet to be verified and validated by the Michigan Board of Canvassers who apparently are moving slow in this process.
Wherever you stand on the use of marijuana, there is much to be
considered in benefits for Michigan taxpayers who currently are faced with paying for a growing criminal prosecution and incarceration system that is spiraling out of control with jail and prisons overcrowding. Decriminalization efforts in some cities have helped to reduce the unjustified prosecution and jailing of many youth for merely smoking or possession of small amounts of marijuana. In cities where the ordinances have been passed to allow possession of less than an ounce of marijuana without criminal prosecution there has been reduced stress on courts and jails while easing the profiling of inner city youth of color. Urban centers with segregated ethnic groups have historically been targeted by police and the resultant drug arrests are statistically higher in these neighborhoods. Lives and career or job hopes have been destroyed by a continued “War on drugs” which targets simple use of marijuana.
“We must approach this differently”, said Michael Tuffelmire, a board member of MILegalize currently involved in a petition drive in Grand Rapids seeking to place a Medical Marijuana opt in action by Grand Rapids City Commission on the November ballot. Smart & Safe GR leader, Michael Tuffelmire is no stranger to pushing for local ordinance revisions as he successfully led a decriminalization effort in 2008 in Grand Rapids. “A lot has changed in the culture and acceptance of marijuana over the last decade. Over 61% of Michigan voters have said they are likely to vote yes to approve recreational use of marijuana statewide. We expect Grand Rapids to be forced by voters to do the same in the future. Our first order of business is to insure that people who need medical marijuana for relief of the effects of cancer, epilepsy, post traumatic stress syndrome, severe arthritis and other ailments can receive meds locally at state approved and regulated dispensaries. Grand Rapids City Commissioners need to get on board and approve this measure. I am amazed by the push back from city leaders in this day and age!”
While we grapple with local and state law changes in our communities, there are both progress and setbacks being witnessed in other communities as the state moves forward in licensing medical marijuana dispensaries. According to news reports in Ann Arbor, Detroit and Lansing there is concern about the number of both licensed and unlicensed facilities. It was recently announced in Ann Arbor that a moratorium on future license applications for dispensaries would be in place until it city leaders can evaluate impact on the community following the 44 approved licenses and 30 new applications for dispensaries, secure transporters, processors and growing operations. The state enforcement officials also shut down over 210 medical marijuana businesses over a two week period citing that they had failed to apply for state licenses by a mid-February deadline. Most were in Detroit. Flint, Gaylord, Ann Arbor, Battle Creek and smaller cities were also impacted.
The time of prohibition and jailing persons for use of marijuana must end! The youthful generation has adopted the marijuana culture much like baby boomers of our country ushered in changes years ago.