Looking at the Michigan Court of Appeals Medical Marijuana Decision

I am still piecing my way through reaction to the Court of Appeals decision on Wednesday regarding the sale of Medical Marijuana. In short, I think this quote from Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero summarizes things nicely:

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero decried the outcome Thursday in an official statement and on Facebook.

Bernero called the court ruling a “train wreck of epic proportions” and criticized lawmakers for not clarifying the law in the three years since voters approved it.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? This Lansing State Journal Article should supply background. For those of you who want to cut out the media and just read the case decision, here is that, from the State Bar of Michigan Blog.

So, let’s take a look at this train wreck:

It somewhat amazes me that we have Government entities so full of themselves that they want to defy the ideals of the people they supposedly represent and spend resources on trying to shut down medical marijuana shops. Just from a stand point of “do the people of Michigan want medical marijuana?” The answer is yes. That actually seems fairly settled.

333.26422 Findings, declaration.

Sec. 2. The people of the State of Michigan find and declare that:

(a) Modern medical research, including as found by the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine in a March 1999 report, has discovered beneficial uses for marihuana in treating or alleviating the pain, nausea, and other symptoms associated with a variety of debilitating medical conditions.

I’m never in favor of shutting down debate and if people want to open up debate, that’s fine. And, sure, there absolutely should be regulation of how marijuana is sold patient to patient. On a personal level, I think that every Medical Marijuana shop I drive past looks like the equivalent of a dive bar and that maybe some of these shops should class their operation up.

Granted, a Michelin 3-star Marijuana Dispensary might not happen, but, the reality is that it is disingenuous to approach regulation of medical marijuana shops from a base position of wanting to shut them down.

When the Court of Appeals issues a ruling that says the following:

The question becomes whether the “medical use” of marihuana permits the “sale” of marihuana. We hold that it does not because the “sale” of marihuana is not the equivalent to the “delivery” or “transfer” of marihuana.

Therefore, the “medical use” of marihuana does not include
the “sale” of marihuana, i.e., the conveyance of marihuana for a price.

It seems to take you back to that ill-conceived base position. The logic that follows in the Court of Appeals ruling about the passages of the Medical Marijuana Act that deal with selling marijuana is shaky at best. Really, the whole opinion comes off like they read the Medical Marijuana Act and simply want to pull the passages that make their point while ignoring the overall scope of the Act.

Could the Act have been written better so that the sale of Marijuana would be clearly permitted? Absolutely. Is that where the train wreck aspect comes in? Absolutely.

The problem with that would seem to be that Marijuana isn’t exactly the same as selling anything else. As in, before States started to pass Marijuana laws, the only people who sold marijuana also often checked over their shoulder for Johnny-Law quite a bit. To put it simply, how the hell do you sell Marijuana? Marijuana as a commercial entity was a complete unknown. Off the top of my head, the easiest way to regulate the sale of marijuana would be to let the Government handle it. Not exactly the most forgiving of entities regarding Marijuana.

But, what seems fairly obvious is that any time you grant someone the ability to use Marijuana to address “alleviating the pain, nausea, and other symptoms associated with a variety of debilitating medical conditions” it goes without saying that the people with the pain, nausea and debilitating medical conditions might not be the ones capable of growing the Marijuana.

So, the guy with glaucoma should be happy that he can use Marijuana to treat it, but, sorry, pal, you also need to hit the Books and learn how to grow it?

I don’t necessarily mind that Michigan’s Attorney General is praising the ruling, but, it’s troubling that he  has the audacity to claim that this will make things safer.

“This ruling is a huge victory for public safety and Michigan communities struggling with an invasion of pot shops near their schools, homes and churches,” Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a statement.

Right. So, that person who can legally have medical marijuana, but, can’t buy it in a shop on the street now has to venture away from the public shops to buy marijuana…and that’s going to have better public safety results? No matter where you stand on medical marijuana or the legalization or marijuana in general, it’s naive to think that there will be better public safety results by telling people they’ll need to find their marijuana from an illegal dealer.

That’s not me damning all Marijuana Dealers as bad human beings, especially if they only sell marijuana and don’t dabble in harder substances. The bottom-line, though, is that some of the cats that deal marijuana are not good people. You’re still dealing with contraband now and there’s no way that is safer than storefronts.

This ruling is also particularly damning giving just how high unemployment is in Michigan. Taking marijuana sales from small businesses to street dealers certainly hurts the economy.

Either way, this whole thing kind of makes me want to listen to Smuggler’s Blues by Glenn Frey from the Miami Vice soundtrack.

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