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A Modest Unity Proposal

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Good Morning, Michigan!


First, I apologize for being so late in posting this. I had hoped to have it up Wednesday, but this crud that has creeped around the state for the past 2 weeks rendered me nearly useless until the past couple of days.


Last week, when discussing the merits of a 'unity' program, I posted a proposal I made last April. Joe asked me to redraft it in the form of a new organization, which I have done and which follows. The core concept behind this is that we need to do 2 things: address the many forces that are rallying against the MMP, and do so in a way that is open and transparent (so everyone can see what is going on), and that gives its core members a vote and active role in the process. Membership is open to all, staffing choices are made based on the capacity of the current organization and members to set tangible goals and accomplish the tasks required to meet them. I believe this document embraces that philosophy.


I have no allegiance to any particular word or phrase here, I submit this only as a foundation around which a discussion on how to form a statewide advocacy organization might work. There are a number of alternatives we could choose from, but the (counter) culture of those involved in the MMP suggests to me that this proposal has a lot of merit. I hope you see it as a good starting point.


So here we go (with apologies for the formatting, I'll bring a bunch of hard copies of the attachment to GW today):


Michigan Medical Marijuana Society Proposal


1. Mission: To provide a single, statewide organization to represent and support the interests of patients, caregivers, physicians, and others involved in the Michigan Medical Marihuana Program by:


· Implementing advocacy and educational services designed to inform the membership, public officials and the general public;


· Developing programs which provide educational programs, technical assistance and other services directly to patients, caregivers, doctors, and others who assist in the medical use of marijuana;


· Providing organizational development and support services to local associations and compassion clubs, and to promote the development of organizations in under-served areas;


· Maintaining headquarters and regional offices throughout the state;


· Supporting legal and financial services programs;


· Establishing the Society as the generally recognized organization representing the core interests of all of the participants in the Michigan Medical Marihuana Program.




Structure: The Society will be governed by an even-numbered board of directors, some of whom will be elected at-large, others of whom will be elected by region. The division of these shall be about even. Directors will have original terms of one or two years, the idea being to maintain experience over time. The Board would meet by teleconference biweekly, physical meetings perhaps bimonthly in different regions



Officers: would include a president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer. The president would chair board meetings and could vote to break a tie. The Board would appoint an executive director to provide day-to-day support and implement policies enacted by the Board. The ED would answer to the President in day-to-day activities. The Board would also hire staff and consultants as would be fitting, whom would answer to the ED or President, depending on the nature of their assignments.




Chapters and Regions: Michigan is difficult to travel throughout during many months of the year. Because the state is so vast,. Ideally, it would be good to see active chapters in every county, obviously the more heavily populated counties would be likely to have a number of chapters within their borders. It makes sense also to have regions, as the needs of people living in one area might be entirely different than others, and similar chapters would probably benefit from working together. Political boundaries such as congressional districts can provide fairly sensible boundaries many times, although the northern districts (1, 2 and 4) may wish to subdivide in such a scenario. On the lower side, perhaps 6 might suffice, representing the SE, SW, Central, Western, Northern Lower, and UP. The UP could well have more than one region, as it is huge in size. I have no commitment to regions, chapters are vital.


2. Functions of the MMMS:




o Education of Vital Populations Regarding Important Features of the Act


§ Law Enforcement and Judicial Officials – more than anyone, these groups must understand the law and its nuances in order to interpret and enforce it in a manner that protects the interests of patients, caregivers, doctors, and other assistants in the medical use of marijuana. At the same time, they should understand that the protections afforded by the law are limited, and the public interest is served by some degree of oversight to maintain compliance, thereby protecting public safety.


§ Doctors and their staffs – The other major market failure at the moment is the dearth of physicians willing to provide the proper documentation. A casual sample of doctors indicates rapidly that few doctors understand the MMMS at all. Fewer still understand the technical provisions and the protections it affords them, both criminally and professionally.


§ Municipal officials – Beyond LEOs and Judges, other public officials, including city managers, attorneys, councilpersons/commissioners/trustees, zoning officials and board members, building inspectors, and others, all can impact the implementation of the Act, and most importantly, can and are actively creating impediments for patients and caregivers to exercise what are widely seen to be their rights under the Act. It is important that the MMMS, or some other advocacy organization, quickly act in support of patient rights in all municipalities that are actively implementing, or considering proposals to implement restrictive ordinances.


§ The General Public, largely through forums, articles, video. Again, this is a ground fight; officials will not be inclined to act in ways that are opposed by an informed public.




o Membership Development – the more members, the more influence.


· Direct, face-to-face member recruitment of all facets – patients, caregivers, doctors, vendors, supporters, others.


· Booths at festivals and fairs to directly inform and enroll Michigan citizens in the MMMS, and to promote the MMMS as a responsible, accepted authority on the law and the first source for information relating to the Act and related industries, services and events.


· As corny as it sounds, the fact is that one of the most effective and least expensive means of attracting public attention and support is by driving a recognizable, ‘brandable’ vehicle around the state, from event to event, and place to place, engaging in a constant media contact process, affirmatively engaging discussion and action to promote the rights and privileges afforded under the Act, and to promote the use of medical marijuana as appropriate, to provide palliative effects from disease and discomfort.<br style="page-break-before: always;" clear="all">



o Advocacy/Lobbying:


§ Provide reports as needed regarding impending actions in legislative, executive, and judicial branches of state government


§ Monitor local governmental actions to a lesser extent, creating a clearinghouse of data provided by members


§ Propose alternative response mechanisms for the MMMS’s consideration


§ Implement and coordinate MMMS strategic and tactical responses.




o Publicity and Media Relations


§ Monitor statewide media – print, broadcast, electronic – for publications relating to the Act and its various impacts.


§ Educate reporters in background, without promoting stories, but ensuring that reporters who cover MMMS-related stories are well-informed.


§ Develop and promote stories for print, broadcast, and internet-based media. Include regular podcast/video programming designed to educate various populations.


§ Develop and produce an ‘earned’ multimedia campaign for print, broadcast and internet-based media (generally news-based).


§ Develop and produce a paid multimedia campaign.




o Organizational Development


§ Use the programs outlined above to actively engage members in focused communications with important decision makers and opinion leaders in their communities, and those who represent these communities elsewhere.


§ Promote independent organizational activities, including press outreach, keeping in touch with local officials, working with neighborhood and community leaders, and maintaining a positive presence in the state and community.


MMMS Draft Proposal.doc

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420Peace Greg Starks,


As corny as it sounds, the fact is that one of the most effective and least expensive means of attracting public attention and support is by driving a recognizable, ‘brandable’ vehicle around the state, from event to event, and place to place, engaging in a constant media contact process, affirmatively engaging discussion and action to promote the rights and privileges afforded under the Act, and to promote the use of medical marijuana as appropriate, to provide palliative effects from disease and discomfort


Put me in the Compassionmobile on that 420 Highway...


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Thanks, and climb aboard! I didn't discuss much of the undergirding philosophy here. There are a few basic needs that this addresses: First, the establishment of a group that state and local officials can get their heads around, just straight-up advocacy, like many other interest groups you can think of - MI Right to Life, Farm Bureau (and its AgriPAC), the various labor unions, any number of groups. The point is to talk to them in their language, as it were.


Secondly, I see the Society as an umbrella group, or a 'lowest common denominator' organization, where the benchmarked rights of patients, caregivers and physicians are defended. What does that mean? Good question. I am comfortable with the Ogden standard, which would mean the Society would support that which was in 'clear and unambiguous compliance' with state law. I do not see it, for instance, as a vessel to defend dispensaries, which are not clearly authorized in the Act. There are other organizations which are currently pursuing their defense, or the concept of patient-to-patient transfers as legal. It may be so, and these may be worthy goals, but to defend them as currently permissible seems out of the range of Society activities.


I am not personally opposed to seeking amendments to state laws, or even the Act, but only in ways which would promote safe, affordable access for people who can derive medical benefit from its use. I am VERY interested in compelling MDCH to fulfill its statutory responsibilities.


There's a lot of work to be done. There are many elements in the current system that are subject to failure, at the cost of affordable, safe medicine for patients. I'm pretty sure that this general concept would serve all elements of the community well. We are in dire straits, as you all know, with both state and local officials, as well as the medical community. It is not too late, but the Legislature of 2011 is likely to be far less inclined to help us than the group we have now, half of whom will not be returning next year. I hope we can come to some agreement today to move forward with fairly specific goals.

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I am not aware of the MDCH and a lawyer road show (their lawyer would be an AG). The Michigan Municipal League has been trying to get in front of this, holding seminars every couple of months like the one Eric V. just posted. The County Prosecutors agreed on a general framework in late August, they have been the driving forces in the current busts. I am quite sure we could have a seat at the League's table. In fact, I sat there on Wednesday. A lot of folks who work there are old friends... and good people. My conversation was a request for a bit more sanity than is being offered in, say, Grand Rapids today. My general impression is that most people, prosecutors and sheriffs least willing to discuss these matters in good faith. The latter two are understandable, as the Act pretty much cuts into their potential forfeiture revenues. Hard to sympathize over that... Hope this helps.

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