2011 and Earlier / News

Feds stay in way of marijuana change

There is a movement afoot to put a proposal on the state ballot to legalize marijuana.

Unless the ballot language includes specific provisions for how Michigan can buck federal government laws and regulation, it will be a waste of time.

I will sign a petition to get it on the state ballot, if I ever find one, and I will vote for it if the question is put to the people in August or November.

But I also believe this push to make the “sticky-icky” a legal drug here in Michigan is another lofty idea that will be smashed upon the rocks of federal government reality.
A COLUMN BY CHRIS OLSONA COLUMN BY CHRIS OLSON
The proposed ballot language is fairly simple. If you are 21-years-old and have not been incarcerated, you may smoke, ingest or let into or onto your body marijuana, as long as you’re not operating any sort of motor vehicle, be it recreational or not, heavy equipment or at work. Persons 21 years and older would be able to grow the plant, process it and sell the product as well.

Sounds great, right? I am a supporter of legalizing this drug.

Lurking behind all this optimism is our omniscient federal government. Last I saw the USA still lists marijuana, or marihuana, depending on which government agency is serving the warrant, as an illegal substance. While I applaud the efforts of the Committee for A Safer Michigan to make this a state’s rights issue, Big Brother FBI, DEA and a whole alphabet of federal law enforcement agencies are waiting to pounce on anyone who dares to challenge the marihuana status quo.

I recently watched the first and second seasons of HBO’s Empire Boardwalk television series, a drama based on what happened during the alcohol prohibition era of the 1920s and 30s in Atlantic City, N.J. I mention this as the website for the Committee for a Safer Michigan proudly points out that Michigan was the first state to vote to repeal Prohibition.

Here’s what you have to remember about the prohibition on alcohol. A vocal minority cajoled the majority into adopting that farcical nonsense based on religious and “moral” grounds. But alcohol was prevalent and popular at the time, and still is. That didn’t change during Prohibition, as most folks figured out a way to keep booze flowing under the table instead of out in the open.

It’s hard for me to draw a line between ending alcohol prohibition and ending the ban on marijuana. Like I said, alcohol was flowing like a river in most areas of the United States, and was very popular when prohibition started. Marijuana has been illegal for 70 or so years here in the United States. Marihuana just isn’t as popular as alcohol was and is.

Michigan could be one of the first states to repeal the ban, but the retribution from the federal government would be swift. We would see more federal interference in local law enforcement efforts. Federal government funding could dry up for everything from school programs to transportation and roads.

Unless Congress decides to stop wasting time and resources to chase down marihuana growers, users and sellers, it doesn’t matter what Michigan does. Michigan already allows medical marihuana, and there seems to be nothing but problems with it. The basic premise for medical marijuana was that it was going to be used mainly by people with chronic illness problems and terminal diseases. Then people got the idea that the ballot language included provisions so folks could make money at it.

Nope, that wasn’t in there. All certified patients can do is either get their marijuana from a certified care provider or grow it themselves. They can’t exchange it with other certified patients. Care providers may only provide the drug to up to five patients. That’s it.

So will I sign a petition to put this proposal on the state ballot? Yes, if I see one. Will I vote for it? Yes. Do I think it will accomplish meaningful change in how this nation pursues minor drug offenders? No.

But, like Don Quixote, sometimes you just have to keep charging at those windmills to slay the dragon.

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