By Rick Thompson
There have been many developments in the field of medical marijuana since my last blog, both here in Michigan and nationally, material enough for a half-dozen lengthy columns easily. Science news about cannabis’ therapeutic effects in people with autism, a big article in a national paper about the Veteran’s Administration and using marijuana to treat PTSD, the Michigan Supreme Court reversing the Court of Appeals on two medical marijuana cases, the K2 crisis, HB 5681, it goes on and on.
The single thread that makes all these stories relevant and related is the mindset of the powerful. Contain and control has become big business, and our government is in that business. The prohibition of marijuana in America, my America, is being perpetuated by a system financially predicated on the revenue and expenditures created through the war on drugs. There is a better way.
Occasionally we see a light shined on the issue by neutral observers. These quotes come courtesy of the Michigan Supreme Court, who UNANIMOUSLY held that the Court of Appeals, District and Circuit Courts across the state, have been improperly denying citizens their rights.
“Under the Court of Appeals’ construction, which the prosecution urges we adopt…a defendant (must) satisfy all the requirements of Section 4 in order to establish the Section 8 affirmative defense. Principles of statutory construction do not support this conclusion… The plain language of Section 8 does not require compliance with the requirements of Section 4.” Pg 17
“Thus, Sections 4 and 7(a) have no bearing on the requirements of Section 8, and the requirements of Section 4 cannot logically be imported into the requirements of Section 8 by means of Section 7(a).” pg. 18
You don’t have to understand what Sections 4, 7(a) and 8 are to understand what the Supreme Court is saying. The Court of Appeals, the Attorney General and the prosecutors have forced a judicial model upon legally registered patients that the Supreme Justices are saying is not logical, contradicts the plain language of the Act, and is not supported by standard interpretations of law. Unanimously, they said that. You can’t get seven people to agree on what color red is, but these seven strong personalities made these equally strong statements.
There’s more. They explain why the Appeals Judges and prosecutors have been doing this to people.
“…unregistered patients would never be eligible for the affirmative defense under Section 8. The result would be to effectively abolish the differing protections extended to registered and unregistered patients. This interpretation is internally inconsistent, renders the affirmative defense in Section 8 a nullity, and is contrary to the electors’ intent to permit both registered and unregistered patients to assert medical reasons for using marijuana as a defense…” pgs 18-19
Would never be eligible… contrary to the electors’ intent… internally inconsistent… and yet, this is how prosecutions involving medical marijuana patients have been conducted for the last three years. By improperly denying a jury the right to know that a person is a patient, and that patients are people, prosecutors have forced plea bargains from licensed and registered patients who should have had an affirmative defense available to them. It is an expedient way to push patients through the system without the judicial inconvenience of a jury trial.
The Supreme Court even included an Appendix which lists out the 10 conclusions the Court reached when deciding the two cases before them. A ten-point cheat sheet- really? That should make the Court’s message very clear- do not misunderstand what we have decided here today. And to whom is that message intended? Legislators, take note of the message contained herein. The invalid interpretations of what the Medical Marihuana Act means extends into your halls as well, Reps. Walsh, LeBlanc, Liss, Senators Jones, Marleau, Schuitmacher. Focus on these phrases- internally inconsistent… plain language… contrary to the voter’s intent. Science is on my side. The people are on my side. The Supreme Court is on my side. Do not be on the other side or we will un-elect you.
Who do we hold accountable for this wrong? Who takes the lash for this transgression against humanity? I wish I could say it was our current Attorney General, but this is a symptom of a system that was created before he achieved the top office. He perpetuates the problem, fosters unfounded fear in the citizenry and has persecuted the sick and injured; for that he will have to answer to God. The real issue is one of the status quo, the reluctance to adapt and change because change is uncomfortable- or should I say, unprofitable. Revenues created from forfeitures, court costs and fines, governmental drug war grants to local police departments, sale of surplus military gear and the training that comes with it are all the rewards for keeping the system intact. Change means an interruption in the revenue stream and that will always be a tough sell to agents of the government.
Change is upon us, whether we want it to be or not. In times past, Michigan was the agent of change. Our innovations were reported internationally and were imitated in every industrialized nation. Under Attorney General Frank Kelly we had the best consumer protections in the nation. Now, not so much. City Councilmembers, County Commissioners, elected officials at all levels of government can look to the Supreme Court’s rulings and understand that the old ways are dying and it is good to embrace the new. Make decisions that make sense, and always allow compassion to guide your mind.
Rick Thompson is on 2 radio shows and writes for several MM publications in Michigan