Recent national articles have embarrassed the state of Michigan. It does not take much reading or news watching to discover that Michigan's national spotlight is not anything to brag about. The Governor is facing controversy over his leadership in the Flint water crisis. Some are calling the situation a human rights violation, and enough voices have been heard to draw a federal investigation (1). Also according to the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity, Michigan ranks last in laws on ethics and transparency. (2)
Quietly, without a spotlight and without any public attention, the Michigan State Bar(3) and the Great State of Michigan convened for the first time ever in United States history, a State Bar Association-sponsored Marihuana Section.
In light of the horrible news associated with Michigan as of late, it was nice to that Michigan had taken some positive steps in the area of marihuana contemplation. Better yet it was even inspiring that my fellow sisters and brothers of the bar were the ones who organized the nation’s first marihuana section of a state-sanctioned bar association. The group of lawyers who are participating in this section were from all over the state, some who I knew and have fought in the trenches with, and many others from throughout the state, who likewise had devoted much of their practice in recent years to counseling and advising patients, caregiver, doctors and business owners related to their interest in Michigan’s Medical Marihuana Program. Additionally, much discussion was given to the reality that the view on marihuana both nationally and within the state is changing drastically. The consensus amongst the group was that lawyers knowledgable in the area of marihuana are currently in high demand and will continue to be needed as Michigan transforms from prohibition in the years to come.
The skill set of the lawyers involved was unparalleled, and it was nice to hear so many other lawyers in different areas of specialty offering their commentary and ideas as to the interplay of the current marihuana prohibitions, the MMMA and the future of legalization in Michigan. There were even a few familiar faces belonging to prosecutors that I have battled over medical marihuana cases who were in attendance.
With little faith in the current government’s rationale or policies regarding medical marihuana and responsible adult marihuana use, I am optimistic that this group can have some impact on what has truly been a failed effort by the state to deal with these very important issues.
A huge thanks must be extended to Bernard Jocuns, Mary Chartier and Dan Grow, three superb attorneys who worked tirelessly to make sure this new section was in fact realized. I believe all the members of this section are grateful for their efforts, and shared the same sense of optimism and desire to help shape a more reasonable marihuana policy for the state of Michigan.
I look forward to being involved with this organization, sharing, learning, and working with fellow lawyers on this very important issue, to which I have devoted so much of my practice. In closing, it is nice to know that many other professionals seem to share similar ideology and beliefs about marihuana policy, and even better that our organization is sponsored by, supported by and part of the State Bar of Michigan. Most importantly, it was nice to be surrounded by the talent of the fellow lawyers of this organization who are truly participating in a historic event that can only be categorized as “good news” coming out of Michigan.
- The State Bar of Michigan is the governing body for lawyers in the State of Michigan. Membership is mandatory for attorneys who practice law in Michigan. The organization's mission is to aid in promoting improvements in the administration of justice and advancements in jurisprudence, improving relations between the legal profession and the public, and promoting the interests of the legal profession in Michigan.