On March 22, 2016, Michigan citizens took to the Capitol Building steps to protest a new wave of raids conducted by Michigan State Police and narcotics raid teams, often against the wishes of local city/township leaders. In some cases, laws had been passed encouraging or embracing medical marijuana dispensaries in the cities raided.
Against a flag-filled background, elected officials Sen. Coleman A Young and Rep. Jeff Irwin addressed the crowd; Sen. Young finished his speech with a well-received chant of, "Free the weed!"
Other officials recognized by the crowd got a less-than-warm welcome. Recognized by organizer Charmie Gholson, the Director of Michigan's Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Mike Zimmer, received a general round of 'booing' when pointed out to protest attendees. Zimmer rejected the opinion of a panel of mostly doctors who advised him to add autism to the list of conditions qualifying a person to use medical marijuana, under a physician's care.
Any parent who has seen the videos or spoken to a family member of an autistic child knows that these families need support and options. The Zimmer betrayal of people and process is a wound still fresh in the minds of Michigan voters, and his name is forever soiled in the minds of the state's 180,000 registered marijuana patients of all ages. The administration of Governor Rick Snyder, who appointed Zimmer in December of 2014, was under fire for anti-citizen actions long before the Flint Water Crisis made national news.
Receiving an even worse reception was former industry hero, Rep. Michael Callton. In 2011 Rep. Callton was tapped by marijuana community representatives to sponsor legislation authored by patients and business interests, legislation intended to halt raids of medical marijuana patients and businesses, raids eerily similar to those 2016 raids that inspired the protest. In the interim period Callton has allowed out-of-state business interests and wealthy in-state special interest groups to remove language, alter intent and pervert the nature of that patient-initiated bill to the point where it is no longer recognizable as related to the original document.
The compromises made by Rep. Callton and fellow Republican Representative Lisa Lyons have caused the marijuana patient community to reject the current version of their former pro-marijuana bills and actually work against their passage. One of those compromises made by Republicans to law enforcement interests include forcing marijuana industry workers to quit the state's medical marijuana caregiver program before they can even be eligible to work in the dispensary, grow house and transportation companies proposed in the legislation.
Rep. Callton, who is universally identified as the most hated man in Michigan by Medical Marihuana Program registrants, was shouted at as he passed by the protest, receiving catcalls of, "Traitor!" and "Benedict Callton!"
Gholson of Michigan Moms United led the protest. She acknowledged donations from the National Patients Rights Association (NPRA) and the help of people like Bryan Rice in the execution of the rally and protest. Recent raid victims from Gaylord and Burton addressed the crowed as did 2011 raid victim and MINORML/MILegalize Board member Rick Thompson (The Compassion Chronicles), Lansing attorney Joshua Covert, noted MILegalize activist and TrailBlazer Award Winner Jamie Lowell, raid victims Al Witt and Hemptress Jolene, Jackson NORML's Roger Maufort, and Abrogate spokesman Tim Locke.
Many, many other activists, patients and community leaders were present, including businesspersons Bob Johnson from The Sweet Leaf, Joshua Keasler from SkunkwerksRX, Thetford Township Trustee Eric Gunnels, leaders from Ann Arbor dispensaries Arborside and People's Choice, for-profit entity Women Grow, and others.
Source: The Compassion Chronicles