Controlled substance laws “hazy”

I cast my vote for the 2008 presidential election as an absentee. That year, I voted for Nader and both Michigan ballot initiatives (medical marijuana and stem-cell research). I must be the liberal scum that’s threatening “American values” (“U.S. values,” more accurately, if you wish to respect Canada and Mexico — which I do).

I was among the 63 percent majority of Michiganders that approved the ballot initiative legalizing marijuana to treat the chronically ill in our state. This law permits licensed patients with illnesses like cancer, H.I.V. and multiple sclerosis — and their caregivers — to acquire or grow medicinal cannabis to ease the pain of those and other diseases. But political meddling has eroded civil liberties granted by what was a straight-forward law with a simple goal: to lessen suffering.

Recently, an appeals court interpreted the sale of medicinal marijuana at the Compassionate Apothecary, a Mount Pleasant dispensary which took a 20 percent share of the profits of marijuana which patients paid for, on the grounds it created a “public nuisance” in granting services to approved med-marijuana card holders.

The ruling that the apothecary was in violation of state controlled substances laws set a precedence which police across

the state have used as an impetus to raid and close it and numerous other dispensaries. The non-existence of transactions for marijuana leaves card holders in a paradoxical state where it is legal to have and use medical marijuana, but illegal to obtain it through commerce.

The controlled substances laws in the state of Michigan do not bar the sale of marijuana, just the transfer or delivery of the substance, and sale is not included in the Michigan medical marijuana legislation. Transfer and delivery are, however. This is a main point of confusion.

The medicine itself, the three appellate judge panel said, cannot be sold, though the law voters passed in 2008 granted that services provided by caregivers, dispensaries in this case, can be compensated. If not by cash, then what? Perhaps medical marijuana cooperative programs are the solution, or a new model of licensed treatment facility with new legislation for allowable locations where patients could receive care.

Zoning rules might help to alleviate some of the rancor towards dispensaries, allowing them to be naturally incorporated into the society in ways that communities can independently approve. This would also allow those within the margin that did not approve the medical marijuana law their moral victory.

As of yet, lawmakers offer no suggestions to the confusion, only denigration to the sick simply for wanting to ease their pain.

Remember when I said I voted absentee? Well, my travel plans fell through that week.

There is a point to my satirical self-deprecation, though, and it is this: my civil disobedience — voting absentee by choice — it harmed no one.

But this civil-servant “civil disobedience” is denying thousands their legal right to medicine to treat symptoms such as chronic pain, nausea and seizures.

Michigan Attorney General William Schuette championed the recent appellate ruling. He, like most Michigan elected officials, does not like even the possibility of medical marijuana. He has stated this many

times, in many ways, throughout his political career. That is fine. But when two-thirds of a state votes something into law and you quibble and distort a debate, characterizing medical dispensaries as “pot shops” and “drug houses,” that is irresponsible political grandstanding. It is sanctimony.

With this column, I almost assuredly recuse myself from future reporting upon the issue, but I think and hope that this address might be able to demonstrate the fact that your very human rights are being stripped away by cranky, aging hypocrites.

When this issue is published, Sept. 7, you can join the Michigan Medical Marijuana Accociation ( at the state Capitol in Lansing. We can show legislators that the rights voted into law by 63 percent of the state will not be violated.

You may also be interested in contacting your state representatives with your concerns over this obstruction of civil liberties, or send your regards to Mr. Schuette, whom can be reached in the following ways.