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Local Leaders Hope Smoke Clears On Medical Marijuana Law In 2011


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If there's one thing for certain, the state's medical marijuana law — and how local communities are dealing with it — remains cloudy.

 

Local ordinances have been changed to prohibit medical marijuana operations such as growing facilities, distribution centers and compassion clubs. Other communities have adopted a moratorium (a freeze) on all medical marijuana issues until things are clarified.

 

Several communities are going with the federal law that bans the use of marijuana, medical or otherwise, because it is a controlled substance.

 

“The law is a total mess,” said Bloomfield Township attorney William Hampton. “The Legislature must do something about this. It's such a poorly written law.”

 

It's an issue that needs to be worked out between local municipalities, counties and the state legislature in 2011, said state Rep. Vicki Barnett, D-Farmington Hills.

 

She said there has been some talk among Oakland County officials and a bipartisan group of Oakland County state legislators, but nothing has been ironed out to clarify the law or the wishes of the voters. She hopes to see the issue addressed in 2011.

 

Voters in Michigan approved the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act with a 63 percent vote, including majority support in 83 counties statewide. The law went into effect on April 6, 2009, at which time patients could start applying for identity cards from the state health department. The cards are supposed to prevent people from being arrested for using medical marijuana.

 

 

RAIDS, ARRESTS

 

Medical marijuana cards were irrelevant in August 2010, when police raided a medical marijuana facility in Ferndale and arrested several people.

 

The incident prompted a recent protest rally, in which about 90 medical marijuana supporters arrived in three buses from cities across the state.

 

Chuck Ream, co-founder for Safer Michigan Coalition and a member of Michigan Association of Compassion Centers, said he has been smoking marijuana for 43 years and qualifies as a medical marijuana patient, because he has “intestinal distress and gastrointestinal problems.”

 

“All I have is pain, I'm not terminal one bit,” Ream said. “I can run farther and swim farther than most 20-year-olds or cops. My body is hard and strong, my mind is functioning as well.”

 

Ream said he is president of a medical marijuana dispensary in Ann Arbor and added that his long-term goal is to legalize marijuana in Michigan for any use.

 

 

LAWSUITS

 

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a lawsuit in November, against the cities of Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills and Livonia on behalf of Linda and Robert Lott of Birmingham.

 

The couple wants to grow marijuana in a Livonia warehouse and they want to be able to smoke it without trouble at their home and at a Bloomfield Hills private social club. Local ordinances in the three communities do not allow it.

 

Linda, 61, suffers from multiple sclerosis. Robert, 61, was recently diagnosed with glaucoma. Both husband and wife possess state-certified cards qualifying them as medical marijuana patients.

 

“When Michigan voters passed the medical marijuana ballot initiative, I was relieved,” said Linda Lott in a previous statement. “My doctor and I knew that it would help me fight the muscle spasms and painful symptoms of multiple sclerosis. What we didn't realize is that it would be temporary. Instead of relief, I now live in fear that I could be arrested by local officials for following state law.”

 

The lawsuit asks that the city ordinances be declared invalid and unenforceable against medical marijuana patients and caregivers who comply with the state law.

 

“The people of Michigan voted overwhelmingly in support of compassionate care for patients like Linda Lott whose pain can be eased by the use of medical marijuana,” said Kary L. Moss, ACLU of Michigan executive director. “In a democracy, city commissions do not have the power to veto statewide ballot initiatives after they have been approved by the voters and enacted into law.”

 

In December, the Law Offices of Thomas M. Loeb of Farmington Hills, and Neil Rockind, P.C. of Southfield, filed a joint lawsuit in Oakland County Circuit Court against Bloomfield Township for its medical marijuana ordinance passed in October.

 

“We filed the suit on behalf of two township residents who are impacted by the ordinances,” Rockind said. “We think the township ordinances are not only unconstitutional, but they directly conflict with the state law that was passed by 63 percent of the people.”

 

According to the complaint, one of the ordinances requires qualifying patients and caregivers to register with the Bloomfield Township Police Department and provide protected and confidential information, including their name, home address, driver's license number and date of birth.

 

Rockind said he intends to keep the two clients anonymous.

 

“That's the whole point,” he said. “They shouldn't have to provide their identity just because they're trying to follow state law. We're going to do everything to make sure their right to privacy is protected.”

 

A second ordinance adopted by the township prohibits the cultivation or distribution of medical marijuana by any registered patient or caregiver. According to the complaint, these two ordinances are in direct conflict with the Michigan law passed by voters in 2008.

 

“These people should have access to this medicine,” Loeb said in a statement issued to the public. “Michigan law gives them that right. Further, Michigan law protects these patients and caregivers from divulging protected and confidential information. These ordinances have taken away that confidentiality and anonymity, are entirely inconsistent with Michigan law, and should therefore be rendered unenforceable and void.”

 

Bloomfield Township Supervisor Dave Payne said his staff and the township council spent considerable time crafting the ordinances to ensure they complied with the statewide measure.

 

“We believe what we developed meets the spirit of the law,” he said.

 

 

FLAWED LAW

 

Livonia City Attorney Don Knapp highlighted the law's shortcomings.

 

“I don't know of any prescribed medication where the patient is allowed to determine the dosage,” Knapp said. “You get a physician's certification, which is not a prescription. I think that people like to think it's a prescription, but it's not.”

 

 

Knapp said there are no provisions regulating the grade of marijuana, whether it is Mexican ditch weed or something that is 30 percent THC.

 

“There's no regulation on any of it,” Knapp said.

 

Knapp tells the story of case of a man in his early 20s who was ticketed last year for possession of marijuana and paraphernalia. After he had received the citation, the defendant went and received a physician's certificate from Dr. Eric Eisenbud, who is highlighted by The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation in assisting medical marijuana patients.

 

Knapp said the defendant made an appointment with Eisenbud after he was ticketed, then presented the certificate to the court, indicating he received the certificate for chronic neck and back pain. Eisenbud is listed as an ophthalmologist.

 

“He travels the circuit,” Knapp said of Eisenbud, going from state to state and operating out of various offices.

 

Still the defendant was found guilty.

 

“Just because you have a Michigan Marijuana card doesn't mean you have a ‘get out of jail free' card,” Knapp said.

 

Drivers under the influence of THC are also treated like drunken drivers, Knapp said.

 

Knapp also criticized the law because anyone with a misdemeanor conviction or felony conviction can become a caregiver unless they have a felony narcotics conviction.

 

“That means you can be convicted of murder, rape or armed robbery and you can still be a caregiver,” Knapp said. Primary caregivers must be 21 years of age, but they don't need a nursing background, either, Knapp said.

 

After Livonia passed its ordinance, Knapp said several communities contacted his office inquiring about Livonia's ordinance, including a mayor from a community in the Upper Peninsula.

 

“A number of communities have taken a similar approach,” Knapp said.

 

ZONING ISSUE

 

While the state's medical marijuana law allows for the sale, use and distribution of medical marijuana for qualified people, it's up to each municipality to decide where those activities are allowed.

 

That's where zoning ordinance amendments and moratoriums are taking place in communities such as Milford, Milford Township.

 

“We're still in the planning mode,” said Don Green, Milford Township supervisor. “What fits best for us? That's the question.”

 

In Milford Village, the moratorium has been extended.

 

“Basically, the law is unclear. We're trying to figure out what's going on,” said Terri Rusas, village council president.

 

Progress has been made over the past few months, Rusas said, but there are still plenty of unanswered questions.

 

“We're trying to determine if there's a place in Milford (for this), where it will be. We don't want a dispensary set up and then have to close it down because the laws aren't being followed,” said Rusas.

 

The Plymouth City Commission recently passed an amendment to the city's zoning ordinances that prohibits property from being zoned for a use that would be in violation of federal law. A technicality, Mayor Dan Dwyer admits, but one that prevents anyone from formally opening a dispensary or marijuana-growing operation in the city.

 

Dwyer says officials, like those in many local communities, are waiting for lawmakers to resolve the conflict between the state's medical marijuana law and federal law, and could revisit the issue if that is done.

 

Al Cox, Plymouth's police chief, said he's aware of activity at Dr. Ernest Mullen's office, the only medical marijuana office in Plymouth. However, Cox said, as far as he knows, nothing illegal is taking place.

 

“It's not a dispensary, he's just providing the recommendation. It's not a prescription,” Cox said. “To sell or buy the marijuana — that's the violation.”

 

In Farmington Hills, a moratorium was in place until recent city council action on a zoning ordinance amendment that prohibits land use that's in violation of local, state or federal law.

 

Farmington Hills City Councilman Barry Brickner said he wanted to make sure the local ordinance didn't go against the state initiative.

 

 

I don't want to establish dispensaries, compassion clubs or have people selling it on the street corners ... I want us to follow the state initiative that says one person can grow up to 12 plants in their home,” he said.

 

City Attorney Steve Joppich said the zoning amendment only deals with land use, and that smoking marijuana is not a land use issue. Growing operations and commercial distribution are issues that would be covered by the ordinance.

 

In Garden City, a growing operation was approved for a warehouse facility and a second growing facility is on its way to approval. Special land use has been approved for a medical marijuana growing facility in an industrial building near Ford Road and Venoy.

 

LOBBY CONGRESS

 

Farmington Hills Councilman Ken Massey said the issue was a topic at a recent National League of Cities meeting.

 

“This is not just affecting the city of Farmington Hills or the citizens of Michigan,” he said. “There are a number of states (dealing with this issue). The federal government has to resolve the conflict (and interpretation). It was unanimously support by the NLC delegates that we need to lobby Congress for this and that maybe we need to revisit the federal law.”

 

http://www.hometownlife.com/article/20110102/NEWS02/101020318/Local+leaders+hope+smoke+clears+on+medical+marijuana+law+in+2011

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Well I have said it before and I will say it again: TOWNSHIPS HAVE NO POWER. A quick review of why townships were set up will reveal they were only to sell off land tracks to settlers and were then to be dissolved. So the “power” they wield is power stolen from the people of that area. Townships can be dissolved or their budgets cut to the point they don’t even have employees.

 

Cities are another story, but again change can occur IF people become involved and take action. Most of these things come up at meetings. You need to attend these meetings and spread the word about what they are doing. If you don’t fight for your rights you wont have them long.

 

The MML (http://www.mml.org/home.html) has long been involved in directing local government officials and offices. However they do not support our movement. Their web site says they speak for us in one clear voice. But how many of “us” are members and involved?

 

In short if you are not involved then you wont have a say in any of the future actions of our government .

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Well I have said it before and I will say it again: TOWNSHIPS HAVE NO POWER. A quick review of why townships were set up will reveal they were only to sell off land tracks to settlers and were then to be dissolved. So the “power” they wield is power stolen from the people of that area. Townships can be dissolved or their budgets cut to the point they don’t even have employees.

 

Cities are another story, but again change can occur IF people become involved and take action. Most of these things come up at meetings. You need to attend these meetings and spread the word about what they are doing. If you don’t fight for your rights you wont have them long.

 

The MML (http://www.mml.org/home.html) has long been involved in directing local government officials and offices. However they do not support our movement. Their web site says they speak for us in one clear voice. But how many of “us” are members and involved?

 

In short if you are not involved then you wont have a say in any of the future actions of our government .

 

67% of Michigan voter's sent a loud and clear message, to the newly elected Republican Tea Party! Thats why municipalities via MML, townships, counties and most elected official's are calling for changes to the MMMP. Along with many, many individuals from this community. The chorus is building up to it's crescendo! Time for the finale? .

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Look I understand everyone disliking my negativity, but what if anything is the plan? Writing letters to Tea Pary Republican's and the Democrats that run at the sight of us? Kinda like banging your head against the wall. Where can we find recognition? Through donations to struggling law enforcement agencies and their employees and families? Donations to local volunteer fire departments short on funds for badly needed equipment? Think small town America, even if you live in Detroit. Some Compassion Clubs are working this side, what if it became a true movement? $5 of each $100 medical cannabis service fee to the fund from caregiver's, coops, dispensaries and the like, along with donations and fundraising?

If not this idea, then what? We are a minority in need of a legitimate voice, takes money, and lot's of it.

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Look I understand everyone disliking my negativity, but what if anything is the plan? Writing letters to Tea Pary Republican's and the Democrats that run at the sight of us? Kinda like banging your head against the wall. Where can we find recognition? Through donations to struggling law enforcement agencies and their employees and families? Donations to local volunteer fire departments short on funds for badly needed equipment? Think small town America, even if you live in Detroit. Some Compassion Clubs are working this side, what if it became a true movement? $5 of each $100 medical cannabis service fee to the fund from caregiver's, coops, dispensaries and the like, along with donations and fundraising?

If not this idea, then what? We are a minority in need of a legitimate voice, takes money, and lot's of it.

This all sounds good to me i would add one more step for them to get the money i would have them come to the clubs to get it and maybe do a talk\

we have been asking them to come from day one they wont do it

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Merely offering may gain notice of those that provide this kind of funding during economic boom times. If I offer my county sheriff financial aid and my offer motivates another organization to raise funds in opposition to our efforts. Say Juniata Baptist church donates to undercut our efforts. still accomplishes letting them know we are there and ready. With the right board making the right decisions we can do even better than that. But baby steps, changing one mind at a time, if that's what it takes.

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How about community fundraising for medical costs? Imagine if rather than 25 people showing up in AA tomorrow, 100 show up in MMMA, MINORML, CC, tshirts money in hand for the spaghetti dinner fundraiser for a cancer victim. Stopping to talk to our neighbors as we share a meal.

Edited by Wayne'sWorld
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I'm not saying don't bang our heads on the wall, can always hope we knock it down or poke some holes in it. Just sayin' we may get more bang for our bucks. I've invested close to $3,000 on cannabis reform in 2010, some well spent, some not. Looking for wise investments in the cannabis reform movement as we go forward. Motivate me!!!!!! Please?

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Like BB says I saw the difference that participation made in Battle Creek. I have no doubt the ordinance would have been pushed through without that great turnout. We even saw at least one commission member appear to change their position. We have seen good results locally we have to bring that same level of commitment to the state level.

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Educating the public as to the real issues will also serve to stop politicians from meddling.

 

Thanks, Bb

I'm not articulate enough but I have read many post by persons on this site that are capable of writing editorials. Let them have it in the press. The general public needs to hear the true voice of the people that the Medical Marijuana Act really affects. Not the voice of LEO, politicians, dispensaries. You don't hear our voice, if you do the press always uses extremes by using (no offense intended) losers or money grubbers as examples.

Edited by LITLJON
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I'm not articulate enough but I have read many post by persons on this site that are capable of writing editorials. Let them have it in the press. The general public needs to hear the true voice of the people that the Medical Marijuana Act really affects. Not the voice of LEO, politicians, dispensaries. You don't hear our voice, if you do the press always uses extremes by using (no offense intended) losers or money grubbers as examples.

 

I think you are way off base on your abilities. Your post are always well written.

 

Even for those that don't really like to debate we still need the appeal to numbers. We all need to go and post even if it is just to say "I agree" or "right on" when someone like BB post. We need our position to be the majority position.

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What we also need is a voice they will listen to, someone like that Cusingberry guy who went to bat for us. Although he got voted out, we sure could benefit by having someone like him, he knows who to talk to, he can open doors we might be unable to, he would know who might help us, it wouldn't hurt to ask, and remember to thank him for all he's done. We are many, that is true, but we also need to be sure we'll be heard and listened to. We need all the help we can get. I'm a fairly decent writer, it wouldn't take much to write a letter; this I've been talking about for months. I've seen talk of fundraising for months, we have to start acting, should be happening all along. Doctors, lawyers, the professional people who are on our side, they'll be listened to even more than us, but we have to keep at it, too, can't depend on someone else to do it. A lot of the frustration I have is in seeing very little being accomplished. All these people who join, thousands of them, we need EVERYONE. I just got tired of seeing all these appeals for action and help, and seeing so few results. Giving money helps, of course, but we have to do all those things people are suggesting. I've said all this before and I'm weary of seeing our backs so pinned to the wall and not seeing a strong enough movement. What are people waiting for, the ax to fall before they realize they're in danger? Make a plan, have a strategy, meet to discuss and implement it, follow through. The time for talking is long over, it's time for action. After hardly being here for awhile, I come back only to see the same old stuff. Those who are strong enough must step it up a few notches NOW. Write a letter, write it by hand if you can and send it snail-mail, I read those speak very loudly to our so-called reps. Find anyone who's on our side and encourage them to do something. Stick to the main points, make it short and simple, be polite, but firm and sincere.

 

Sincerely, Sb

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Like BB says I saw the difference that participation made in Battle Creek. I have no doubt the ordinance would have been pushed through without that great turnout. We even saw at least one commission member appear to change their position. We have seen good results locally we have to bring that same level of commitment to the state level.

Yep the proof that without turn out they just push patient rights to the side was Wyoming there were a few of us there fewer that spoke and in the end they banned us. They took our votes and not many people even noticed. I bet if you asked random people in this town they would not even know they lost thier vote and that mm is now illegal in Wyoming. Or even that their tax dollars are now going to be used to fight at current time 2 law suits. For a town that is and I quote the mayor "cash strapped to the point of mandatory 32 hour work weeks to save money" why would they open the door to the lawsuits after the city attorney told them not to act as such because of possible litigation? I have to go with the mayor said at the final vote "he is opposed to it not going through a pharmacy" of course he owns a pharmacy!

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welj31

 

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Posted Yesterday, 09:59 AM

 

If you don’t fight for your rights you wont have them long

.

 

 

 

blueberry

 

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Posted Yesterday, 03:20 PM

Communication and participation is paramount to success. Let's take Battle Creek for example. 150 people show up. 50 people speak. Many more call and email. The initiative fails to get introduced. That's what public participation accomplishes.

 

 

 

Big J

 

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Posted Today, 04:32 AM

 

Yep the proof that without turn out they just push patient rights to the side was Wyoming there were a few of us there fewer that spoke and in the end they banned us. They took our votes and not many people even noticed.

 

 

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hey BB thanks for the updates. It's nice to see some good news and proof that our voice does count.

 

Sb

 

Sb, Maybe you've been away a little longer than I thought and you're a little out of date on current events. We've been very successful. Starting with Walmart Joe. That protest sparked protest all the way across the country. Joe now has four attorneys, three of which are from the ACLU. The Saginaw protest made news all the way across the country and changed the way our folks are treated in Saginaw County. Our demand when we protested in Oakland County was that there be no more violence against patients. Arrest state wide are down to almost nothing. Branch County, we fought an ordinance that would have pushed caregivers out of the county. It failed to get a single vote for introduction. Battle Creek, same thing but this time Compassion Clubs were targets, failure to introduce. We've fought ordinances all over the state. Several Lansing Protest..... If you look the success of the movement as a whole, it is the MMMA that has fueled that success. A far as providing support our staff has bent over backwards to accommodate any and all request.

 

The problems we face now are a result of people within our movement cooperating with the government to overthrow the law. Just like all tyranny, you can't fight it until somebody starts talking. We started taking action immediately upon finding out about the tyranny. We were already embarking on a counter offensive. As a matter of fact we are the only organization in the state fighting the dismantling of our law.

 

Our Donate Banner flies year round. We only have one fund raiser per year. Our folks are mostly sick and disabled. So I don't make people feel guilty every time they log on the site by asking for money they don't have. This has been difficult on the MMMA, but it is a policy I've stuck by.

 

Sb, Our organization measured by success is on top of the pack. As a communications portal, we are number 1, beating out both ASA and the MPP. As an advocacy organization, we are number 1. When it comes to defending the law, we are number 1. We truly represent the will of the people. Unity is a great thing, but we will not take unity at any price. I will not throw in with folks, that cut deals with the government, that hurt patients and caregivers. The fight we face will be won by our movement. Tyranny will not overcome the truth. I and others are working around the clock to put the worms back in the can.

 

I Just want to keep the record straight. Thanks, bb

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I would like to correct a statement I made. CPU is working to stop any initiative that negatively affects patients/caregivers. They have many valuable assets that will be a huge asset in our fight. CPU is squarely on our side and the side of our community. I apologize for any confusion. Thanks, bb

 

Remind us who CPU is plese kind sir...

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