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Medicine Or Drug, Marijuana Is Political And Big Business


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Voters approved medical marijuana in Michigan in 2008, 63 percent to 37 percent — a huge margin for a ballot proposal.

 

 

But implementing the voter-approved law has been a rocky process, more often ironed out in courts rather than in the Michigan Legislature.

 

 

Along the way, marijuana has sparked debates over it’s role as medicine vs a gateway drug to more illicit substances, and it has become a political football.

 

 

Legal or not, however, marijuana is also big business.

 

 

 

POLITICS OF MARIJUANA

 

In the Village of Holly, a couple miles from where Pete Trzos opened his Well Greens medical marijuana business in January 2013 and which was promptly shut down by police, a street downtown is named Battle Alley.

 

 

plaque on the Historic Holly Hotel notes that Carry A. Nation, the ax-wielding symbol of the temperance movement against alcohol, visited Holly in 1908 at the request of the local prohibition committee.

 

 

“Wielding her umbrella, she strode through the alley’s bars bellowing about the ‘Demon Rum’ and its sins,” the plaque reads.

 

 

Advocates for medical marijuana, and legalization of marijuana in general, say the attitude of social reformers toward alcohol, marijuana and other drugs characterized much of the 20th century and well into this century — from the1936 film “Reefer Madness” to the conviction, 

in the late 1960s for selling two joints of marijuana to police in Ann Arbor.

 

 

As the 20th century progressed, so did federal regulation of marijuana and other drugs.

 

 

The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970declared marijuana a Schedule 1 drug, illegal in the United States, even as some studies referenced its medical benefits, and President Richard Nixon announced the War on Drugs in 1971.

 

 

Efforts to have marijuana reclassified have failed, most recently in January 2013.

 

 

Even so, more states have legalized medical marijuana or marijuana in general, heightening the inherent conflict with federal law. Washington State and Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, becoming the first states to do so.

 

 

More locally, Ferndale adopted a local ordinancelargely decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana in November 2012, considered symbolic because general marijuana use remains illegal under both state and federal law in Michigan.

 

 

Michigan’s medical marijuana law, approved by 63 percent of voters in 2008 and criticized as vague and poorly written, has also continued to evolve from legislative actions and criminal prosecutions.

 

 

While Michigan’s legislature has been active, it’s some of the court rulings that have had the most significant effect on medical marijuana in Michigan, many of them stemming from raids and prosecutions in Oakland County.

 

 

 

MARIJUANA AND THE LAW

 

One of the more significant rulings in the evolution of Michigan’s medical marijuana law may be a Michigan Supreme Court ruling Feb. 8, 2013, that Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said effectively outlaws dispensaries by banning retail sales of medical marijuana.

 

 

That case involved a Mount Pleasant dispensary where qualified patients were selling marijuana to each other.

 

 

The high court ruled that the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act doesn’t offer immunity from prosecution to patients who sell to each other, or to caregivers who sell to anyone but the maximum five qualified patients they’re allowed to have.

 

 

At the time of the court ruling, Schuette also said then that he would alert 83 county prosecutors that they are empowered to close dispensaries, and provide instructions to have them closed as public nuisances.

 

 

The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office says that one single ruling has had a major impact in limiting the growth of dispensaries.

 

 

“I personally estimate that approximately 50 other places that were attempting to open businesses to sell medical marijuana closed or did not open based on prosecutions and the court’s decision that dispensaries are illegal in Michigan,” emailed then-Lt. Joe Quisenberry, of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Enforcement Team, in response to questions from The Oakland Press a year ago. Quisenberry is now captain of NET.

 

 

Statistics from Michigan’s medical marijuana programbear out Quisenberry’s opinion.

 

 

While the number of medical marijuana patients declined slightly in 2013 from 2012, the number of registered caregivers dropped by nearly half.

 

 

“Dispensaries have been basically put out of business in Michigan,” said Oakland County Undersheriff Mike McCabe in April.

 

 

 

MARIJUANA AS MEDICINE

 

Pete Trzos says marijuana’s medicinal properties go beyond treating the conditions allowed under state law.

 

 

“I really do believe in medical marijuana,” Trzos said months after he was charged. “I’ve seen a lot of sick people, especially since opening the dispensary for a short time, that it really does cause an enormous benefit to their lives.”

 

 

The conditions that Michigan’s law allows marijuana to be used for are cancer, glaucoma, immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, and nail patella or “the treatment of these conditions.”

 

 

More broadly, the law also allows marijuana to treat debilitating diseases or medical conditions that produce wasting syndrome, severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, and “any other medical condition or its treatment approved by the department.”

 

 

Most recently, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was recommended to be added as a qualifying condition for marijuana use. And there’s a push to include autism as a qualified medical condition.

 

 

Still, the federal government remains opposed to legalization of marijuana.

 

 

“The Administration steadfastly opposes legalization of marijuana and other drugs because legalization would increase the availability and use of illicit drugs, and pose significant health and safety risks to all Americans, particularly young people.”

 

 

The American Cancer Society delves deeply into the history of marijuana as medicine and the studies that have been conducted.

 

 

It was the federal government that asked the Institute of Medicine in the late 1990s to study medical uses for marijuana.

 

 

The study concluded that the medical future of marijuana lies in developing ways to deliver the cannabinoids that provide medical benefit, like pain relief, that don’t involve smoking it because of the hazards of smoking.

 

 

 

MARIJUANA IS BIG BUSINESS

 

Most people are out to make a living.

 

 

So was Pete Trzos when he opened his medical marijuana business in Holly in January 2013.

 

 

Under Michigan medical marijuana law, there may not be much money to be made because of the five-patient limit and the limit of 2.5 usable ounces per patient.

 

 

But accessories and services in the expanding industryare booming. Most of them are products found in any other business — equipment, education, insurance, legal services, accounting, and the like.

 

 

With the legalization of marijuana as medicine in 20 states, and most recently for recreation in two of them, pot and its accessories have moved into the mainstream.

 

 

The legal industry for marijuana is estimated at $1.7 billion last year with some estimate that it could grow to a $35-$45 billion industry or more.

 

 

Evidence that it’s an emerging market is that marijuana and some of its accessories are traded on exchanges — much like wheat, corn and any other commodity.

 

 

The mean average price of marijuana across an index of marijuana products in the Ann Arbor market, for example, currently hovers between $350 and $400 an ounce.

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so did anyone ever villify the alcohol prohibitionists ?

 

every time i see the goddamn thing in a book or museum they talk about it as an experiment.

an experiment? over 10,000 dead ? created one of the largest black markets ever?

 

“Wielding her umbrella, she strode through the alley’s bars bellowing about the ‘Demon Rum’ and its sins,” the plaque reads.

 

she got a making whoopee plaque. people went blind, people were poisoned, people were making whoopee shot on the street. children! children were shot in the middle of shoot outs.

 

this lady is treated as a hero! because she was tired of some drunks sleeping on park benches or outside the library or something.

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WellGreens= I F'n love it !

 

$350-$400 an ounce!......wow, its no wonder my patients love me @ half of that expense!!

Thanks

 

It is the best Cannabis i have ever used and it also last a long time longer then any kind of Cannabis i've used most only need i gram per day and sometimes that is too much for some

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The game

Frick and Frac have a dilemma. They both are elected officials, one in the house and the other in the senate and they both secretly  have vested interests in a market for a product that has a high demand although illegal. With the distribution of the illegal product it can maintain an inflated price if it remains illegal to consume. Both know that if the product becomes legal the price will plummet and so will their profits. The answer? Frick votes with his colleagues to legalize the product which makes him very popular with the populace but it also has to go to Frac and his colleagues to vote on and make it law. Frac and his people sit on it and it goes nowhere, it doesn't pass. Frac is now unpopular with the voters. Now it's Frac's turn in this charade. He and his colleagues vote to allow an increase in minimum wage and suddenly he is popular with the voters again. The illegal product remains illegal and the demand remains unchanged so Fric and Frac are happy. Problem solved? 

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