This isn't a typical facts-on-figures article about the MILegalize campaign to legalize the adult use of marijuana in Michigan. In fact, there won't be any facts in this article. Only feelings.
Except, I don't really know what I am feeling right now.
Part of me wants to say, FUCK YEAH! Less than 48 hours ago, our campaign turned in more than 350,000 signatures on 55,000 petition sheets contained within 61 boxes, collected over 11 months of campaigning. We raised just shy of $1.1 million and have a statewide volunteer base of more than a thousand registered participants.
Okay, so there were a few facts tossed in. Here's another fact: I am on the Board of MILegalize, along with more than a dozen others, attorneys and significant activists from around the state. We did what people said we could not; we finished what people said was a dead campaign; we broke rules, made new rules and forced the Michigan Legislature and Board of State Canvassers to alter policy and draft new law to prevent others from doing what we have done.
All praiseworthy and remarkable accomplishments. So why do I feel hollow?
Maybe some of that is because of me. I've described my job as Professional Asshole for a while now, and that's been pretty consistent. I take on everybody that makes a mess of patients and our state. Sometimes that is bigshot elected officials like Sen. Jones; sometimes it is local officials like Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton; sometime, it is our own community members. Not everyone in the medical marijuana movement is in it for the right reasons, and when I see exploitation it is not tolerated. Nobody can suit up for every fight, and nobody should, but we have a network of experienced people here that get what the movement is about. People who are problems are minimized. It works.
Dan Skye from High Times Magazine introduced me in Washington, D.C. at a Business Summit by saying, "Everyone in Michigan hates Rick Thompson." He said it, because when he asked me, that's what I told him.
So if you have few friends and the phone isn't ringing, you can expect that celebrations are sort of solo experiences.
I'm not the only Board member that isn't jumping up and down, though.
We all knew this journey would be accomplished in three different phases: signature gathering, the legal challenges, and then the campaign leading up to the General Election. MILegalize finished the first leg of the trip. Despite every roadblock the world decided to throw at us, we prevailed.
Last night I was with three other Board members on a radio show that Jamie Lowell and I have been involved with for several years now, the fantastic Planet Green Trees Radio Show featuring attorney Michael Komorn. Lowell is on the MILegalize Board; so is Jim Powers, another recent PGT regular, and Deb Young, who joined us in-studio for the broadcast.
There was praise, there was applause, but there was a pensive attitude, too. There were discussions about challenges, about a media campaign, about the MPP-backed Ohio medical campaign which recently announced that they are folding. I thought of Kevin Spitler, Jake Cabrera and the other Ohioans left without any protections and at the mercy of a legislature whose intent isn't to protect patients but to establish business-centric and law enforcement-derived programs. I know how lucky we were, and how hard we worked to create that luck.
We laughed, the four Board members, we talked and informed our radio audience. But we did not cut loose. We did not paint the town.
I suppose focus is the enemy of jubilation. As a campaign, we are still focused. We are still making calls to donors and supporters, still having conference calls and speaking to specialist attorneys about the next leg of our journey. Did we celebrate when the petitions were turned in? Damn right we did, but it wasn't the earth-quaking, body-shaking orgasmic experience we all expect when the final vote tallies in November.
When you see members of our Board, or our campaign manager Chris Silva, or anyone associated with the campaign, give them thanks and appreciation but don't be surprised when they remind you there is still work to be done.
Lots and lots of work.
I don't expect to stop being an asshole. I don't expect the phone to ring more than it already has been. I do expect that people will think we have finished, that the proposal is guaranteed to make it onto the November ballot, and that some will stop working because they believe the work is over. Nobody wants to fill that internal hollow spot more than I do, and fill it with joy hope and promise, but we have to be realistic. Nearly 5% of ALL registered voters in Michigan signed our petitions; when we make the ballot, we will prevail, but that circumstance is far from guaranteed.
We still need you, and I still need you. When I have asked for it, the community has responded, and that's been the other consistent thing since 2010. Love me or hate me, when there is trouble and I yell for help, you people show up. Much love to the Baker Street Irregulars, our ragtag group of in-state stalwarts who are inconsistent and slightly criminal but completely irreplaceable.
We will need you again, maybe more than once, before this campaign is really truly over. On that day we will celebrate an end to the hollow. Help us get there.
Source: The Compassion Chronicles