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If A Fringe Group Made Medical Marijuana Legal, That's One Large Fringe

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JACKSON, MI – Everyone who wishes Jackson could be more like Ann Arbor had to feel nice Friday.

Marijuana-rights protesters gathered to carry signs and chantoutside the Jackson County Tower Building in Arborish style.

“Hey, hey, ho, ho,” they said. “Bill Schuette’s got to go.” Schuette is the state attorney general vilified by people who support medical marijuana.

It was a colorful sight on Michigan Avenue.

Two protesters wore white masks with significance that escaped me, and perhaps them. One particularly enthusiastic chanter wore a “Highway 420” shirt, referencing a slang expression for consuming cannabis.

“You could make some money out here selling hot dogs,” one bystander said. “I wish I had the Doritos concession,” remarked another.

It is fashionable to write off the medical-marijuana movement as a fringe group, a fact I discovered two weeks ago in feedback from upstanding citizens annoyed by my soft-on-weed views.

Softness on weed was not my intention. I didn’t say anything good, bad or indifferent about marijuana or its medicinal value.

What I said was this: Medical marijuana is only kinda-sorta legal four years after the voters of Michigan legalized it, which is not the way things should work in a healthy democracy.

Similar reasoning on the way things should work leads me to disagree with the protesters’ outrage at Prosecuting Attorney Jerard Jarzynka’s crackdown on medical-marijuana dispensaries in Jackson County.

Jarzynka deserves zero blame. His job is to enforce the law, and the Michigan Supreme Court says dispensaries are against the law.

Highway 420 evidently wants Jarzynka to ignore the Supreme Court, based on his nearly three months of experience as a county prosecutor. That is not the way the law works, nor the way it should work.

The problem is, state government has created no legal method for selling medical marijuana to people who qualify for it. That is not my definition of legalizing something.

Many upstanding citizens and elected leaders believe this situation is OK because, in their view, voters made a mistake or were hoodwinked. If so, the thing to do is overturn the 2008 vote at the ballot box.

For every 37 voters in Michigan who opposed legalization of medical marijuana, 63 supported it. It passed in all 83 counties, including ones always described as Republican, conservative and religious.

Ottawa County, for example, gave John McCain 61 percent of its vote for president over Barack Obama. In the same election, Ottawa County supported medical marijuana, although barely.

In Jackson County, birthplace of the Republican Party, medical marijuana passed with 59 percent of the vote. Nearly 5,000 more Jackson County voters supported legalization than voted for Obama.

That was no fringe group. That was Michigan.

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