by Rick Thompson, Board Member, Michigan NORML
We live in exciting times. Change is happening all around us, and progress is taking place in areas where marijuana law reform advocates have worked for decades.
Despite federal rumblings of a return to prohibitionist dogma, states continue to charge forward with their own efforts. Vermont legalized the adult use of cannabis by a vote of their legislature, a first for that methodology in the USA. Efforts continue on a national level to correct the Veteran’s Administration policy of willful blindness toward the benefits of cannabis use. Congresspersons are sponsoring legislation to champion the cause at a pace never-before seen.
Consider Michigan as a microcosm of the American scene.
The Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA) continues to move forward without heed to Jeff Sessions and his upset stomach over states rights. More cities are opting in to the brand-new business program of cultivating and distributing cannabis in Michigan to the 300,000 state-registered patients. Legislators are sponsoring bills aimed at correcting the evils of the Drug War, including the most un-American practice of civil asset forfeiture.
In the streets we are winning the war of information. Polling data suggests that legalization of cannabis for adults enjoys a near-60% level of approval from the citizenry. Citizens in Detroit voted in favor of a pair of proposals last November which corrected some issues with their medical marijuana distribution licensing policy. Any meeting of any city council anywhere in the state is attended by vocal supporters of medical or recreational programs for cannabis. The fear of retribution for saying pro-marijuana things has faded.
Our candidates are the most pro-cannabis group of potential leaders we have seen since cannabis prohibition put a choke hold on America. All the major Democrats are supporting cannabis law reform, some to a greater degree and some merely because it is expected of them (and we know who you fakers are). Republicans seeking the Governorship and the Attorney General’s spot in Michigan have come out in support of the medical marijuana program. A few even speak positively about the possibility of a legalized adult use program in the Great Lakes State.
Our organizations have led the charge toward this new common understanding about the benign nature of cannabis use. Michigan NORML is the state’s oldest and longest-running cannabis rights advocacy group, and it is led by some of the state’s most storied advocates. Former groups including the Michigan Association of Compassion Centers, The Human Solution, NPRA, and the short-lived Michigan chapter of Americans for Safe Access all played a role in the evolution of thought in the state, but none are active in a real sense any more. Legalization groups Repeal Today (2012), MILegalize 2016 and MILegalize 2018 have all helped normalize the concept of an adult use program.
Challenges are still there. Chameleon politicians are waiting to be elected before showing their true colors. National interests will meddle in our election process to prevent the MILegalize/CRMLA 2018 ballot proposal from being approved for the ballot and being approved by the voters. Some communities are still not on board with the medical marijuana business environment created by the legislature. Some law enforcement officials are still living in a 1985 mind frame. There is work to be done.
Be a part of the change. Join us.