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Denying Access To Medical Marijuana Denies A Basic Human Right


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Holland, MI - Voters passed the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act ( MMMA ) in 2008, a citizen-initiated ballot initiative, by a wide margin. It took a bottom-up movement because change isn't coming from the top down. An overarching governmental system continues to unjustly deprive ill persons safe access to an herbal medicine verified by science as being efficacious in treating a variety of ailments with low side effects. If it were any other medicine, everyone would be outraged and protest.


Actively depriving someone access to a drug that can improve their health may not rise to the level of crime but it's certainly a grave violation of a foundational human medical right. However, when it comes to this medicine, a widely embraced medical right gets thrown onto the garbage heap. The federal government not only continues to deny access to it but also sometimes punishes those who privately use it for their well-being by stiff fines and imprisonment, even if such a person were dying.


Appallingly, officials at all levels of government, in the judicial system and in law enforcement feel no responsibility or guilt whatsoever as they participate in the overarching system that perpetuates this violation of a key human right by depriving persons safe access to this medicine. Therefore, a unique grass-roots movement has remained the only viable means by which to overthrow this entrenched injustice. Only as this movement gains support from the bottom up will things change.


It's true that when voters passed the MMMA, its language didn't clarify that dispensaries would eventually emerge, to date around 150 of them. But that's not the main point to consider when judging the emergence of such services. The MMMA doesn't resolve all obstacles qualifying patients must overcome. Among the MMMA's flaws - which the Legislature must fix as soon as possible - is the inability of many patients to gain immediate, dependable access to this medicine. Because of supply problems, pressure for a supplementary source for this medicine has built up.




I can't go into details of the legal foundation in the MMMA that justifies opening a dispensary. But the current law allows for an interpretation that at least one type of dispensary is indeed lawful, and one Michigan circuit court judge has so far agreed . To be sure, the aggressive county prosecutor who filed criminal charges against owners of such a service organization has appealed the Isabella County judge's decision. Yet it may take years for such cases to be resolved or for the Legislature to act in clarifying the law, continuing the outrageous violation of a basic human rights.


There's another point to consider. Neither the aggressive county prosecutor mentioned above nor state lawmakers at the forefront of initiating reform of the current law have an agenda to outright ban dispensaries. Instead, they want to regulate them. Therefore, later or sooner, they will be unambiguously lawful. Sooner is far more just, wouldn't you agree?


We have proposed a tightly regulated and monitored system for dispensaries that seeks to correct - now -t he shameful denial of a basic human right by offering a supplementary source for this medicine, among other crucial services. But some officials argue this should wait until Michigan's Supreme Court or the Legislature acts. Really? More of the same, more top down? Our broken state law has been on the books since 2008. And they want patients to wait who knows how long?


Anyone who participates in the current unjust overarching system - or fails to challenge it, including The Sentinel's editorial board, ( "Miss: Medical Marijuana Protest," April 16 ) - ought to search their conscience and ask themselves, "Am I, in whatever small or large way, partly contributing to the unjust violation of a foundational human right?" Will you please join the bottom-up movement - now?


We do agree with one thing The Sentinel editorial stated: " ... in our view it's legitimate for local governments to make their own rules regulating dispensaries." That's right, they ought to be allowed, regulated and monitored by our city, as we have proposed.




Edited by Croppled1
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I did not post the above editorial. But since it is there, I add the following.



Mr. Timmermann:

Holland Sentinel Opinion Page Editor


If possible, please print the following clarification.


Comments about a recent editorial I wrote (Denying access to medical marijuana denies human rights, Holland Sentinel, April 21, 2011) indicate the points I wanted to make were unclear. City of Holland officials are currently discussing regulations for a medical marijuana ordinance. We have proposed a dispensary service, because state approved patients regularly experience obstacles in gaining safe, immediate and consistent access to medical marijuana through the normal patient/caregiver model.


Denying our proposal for a supplementary source of medical marijuana denies access to a medicine that could be readily available through a dispensary. It’s a basic human right to have access to appropriate medical treatment that is available for those who need it. Since voters approved medical marijuana, to reject supplementary access through a dispensary service deprives state approved patients a basic medical right. Despite the fact that one particular dispensary model has been ruled lawful by a lower court but no higher courts yet, the trend at the state legislative level is towards declaring dispensaries to be unambiguously lawful. However, to make patients wait, who knows how long, for higher courts or the state to act deprives patients of their right to immediate access for the medicine they need. The voter-initiated law was a bottom up movement. Our officials need to join this and reject the normal top down approach, which always impedes safe access to medical marijuana. To make patients wait is to deprive them of safe access and their human rights. This is what I intended to state in the original editorial.

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