Earlier this week I attended a fund raiser for Michigan Attorney General Candidate Mark Totten. When he addressed the supporters at this function, it was more than refreshing to hear the honesty and integrity with which he spoke. Of course the supporters present were those from our Michigan medical marihuana community, and they were all there to hear and see what our great state would be like with Mark Totten as our Law Enforcement Leader.
Mark Totten was up front that the Medical Marihuana issue was not one that was entirely in his wheelhouse, he did however emphatically state that the current policies have failed miserably and needed to be changed. The most compelling words he stated were that he wanted to be a problem solver and not a problem creator. Everyone in the room new what he meant, and as he engaged with the community throughout the night, listening, talking, taking in the various complaints, grievances and suggestion, it was encouraging to say the least. While he may not yet be an expert on the MMMA, he was more than an expert, in fact great orator would better describe him, in breaking down the opponent, Bill Schuette's policies and obstruction of the MMMA. His final remarks were spot on, and clearly reflected many if not all of the inconsistent, irrational policies, and waste of tax payer dollars I feel I have been talking about since 2010. The wasting of valuable resources, ignoring the law, the constitutional initiative, and crafting arguments to defend these policies that no lawyer or any citizen should take seriously, needs to end.
In 2008 3.3 Million Michiganders voted for the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act 2008. Never before in Michigan History have more votes been cast for any issue, ever. This monumental event expressed, amongst other things, the will of the citizens of Michigan to recognize cannabis as a medicine. “Modern medical research, including as found by the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine in a March 1999 report, has discovered beneficial uses for marihuana in treating or alleviating the pain, nausea, and other symptoms associated with a variety of debilitating medical conditions.” MCL 333.26422 The ballot initiative in Michigan is a constitutional right, and allows citizens to change the law through the ballot box. In addition to this process being a constitutionally guaranteed protection for Michigan Citizens, it also requires a super majority vote by the legislature to amend, giving it superior precedent to all other legislatively created laws.
The biggest and most outspoken opponent to the Ballot Initiative prior to and after it became law has been Bill Schuette. Bill Schuette is a career politician who has fed from the public trough his entire professional career. In 2010 he became the Attorney General of the State of Michigan. Despite the continued overwhelming citizen support for medical cannabis, Bill Schuette the leading law enforcement agent in the state has been the biggest obstructionist to its implementation. At a time when Michigan most needed leadership, in how to effectively transition the 80 years of reefer madness taught as a religion to the law enforcement community on their first day at the academy, instead he has failed us.
The Attorney General by his own propaganda machine has declared the MMMA full of more holes than Swiss cheese. His disdain for the MMMA, from his position of leadership, has set in motion a free ticket to turn a blind eye and encourage willful ignorance as the standard in the Michigan Law Enforcement Community. Prosecutors and Judges freely espouse that the MMMA is poorly written and is a bad law, begging the question of since when does or why should it matter what the elected officials of this Great State, sworn to enforce the law, and interpret the law respectively think about any given law, let alone a law that is supported by 70 percent of Michigan voters.
Instead of embracing his constituents, the voters of Michigan, he has ignored their voice and used his position of authority and power to create fear, and misinformation. Instead of being accountable and responsible to the a People of the State of Michigan, he has instead cast doubt on its legitimacy, seemingly encouraging the Law Enforcement Community to ignore the protections of the Act. Instead of declaring reasonable interpretations of the MMMA that are necessary for the Act to be workable, he has either acted intentionally in failing to clarify its ambiguities or encourage officers to find the ambiguities that ultimately ensnarl what would be otherwise law abiding citizens into technical violators and alleged felons. Instead of using his office to help the citizens of Michigan implement the MMMA, he has instead done the opposite taking advantage of every opportunity to circumvent the law and ignore the will of the voters.
Medical Cannabis and Cannabis reform in the United States is and will remain a topic in the national and state headlines. With over 70 and 50 percent respectively supporting reform, this issue is not going anywhere. The Michigan Legislature has attempted to address and pass a state law intended to address concerns of the MMMA and move towards a regulated system for retail sales. As the provisioning center bill remains tabled until the lame duck session, delays to its passing can be directly linked back to the state police and their leader Bill Schuette.
November 4, 2014 is an important day for the medical cannabis, and cannabis reform community but more importantly for all voters in the state of Michigan. The choices are more than clear: will Michigan pave the way, and serve as an example of medical cannabis and cannabis reform pursuant to the will of the citizens of Michigan, or will a single individual espousing arcane policies, ignoring logic, and overriding popular support maintain his position of power. Does Michigan want an Attorney General who creates problems for the medical cannabis community or a person whose goal is to solve problems? Do we want an Attorney General who refuses to be educated as to the benefits of medical cannabis? Do we want an Attorney General who has toured the state, at tax payer expense, as Bill Schuette did on his “Clearing the Air” tour where he spewed fear, misinformation, and reefer madness. Do we want an Attorney General who claims to be a supporter of states’ rights who has ignored the desire of the State of Michigan to implement a medical marihuana program because, as he says, it is against federal law.
Or would Michigan be better off with a leader with a more modern and realistic view of cannabis in Michigan? One who is willing to listen, learn, and become educated so he can be a problem solver instead of a problem maker. The State of Michigan will be at a crossroads on November 4, and at that time it will be decided whether the next 4 years of cannabis reform in Michigan will be implemented or obstructed. The choice should be simple vote for problem solving, and vote Mark Totten for Attorney General.