The Marijuana Two-step

Apr 18, 2013

The 42nd Annual Hash Bash in Ann Arbor The 42nd Annual Hash Bash in Ann Arbor was the high­light of a flurry of activ­i­ties around mar­i­juana the past few weeks.  A reported 3,000 peo­ple were at the Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan Quad­ran­gle for the Bash – part pep rally, part polit­i­cal effort and part toke-down. State Rep.  Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, was one of many speak­ers at the well-organized and well-run event, which included local and national activists.  Mason Tyvert, who works for the Wash­ing­ton, D.C.-based Mar­i­juana Pol­icy Project, and who headed up the legal­iza­tion cam­paign team in Col­orado, spoke; other speak­ers included National Orga­ni­za­tion for the Reform of Mar­i­juana Laws founder Keith Stroup and seed geneti­cist D.J.  Short. Irwin got the crowd cheer­ing when he said, “I believe we should legal­ize mar­i­juana.  …  The good news today, on the 42nd anniver­sary of Hash Bash, is we’re win­ning.  We’re win­ning the bat­tle against mar­i­juana pro­hi­bi­tion.” He cited elec­toral vic­to­ries for legal­iza­tion in Wash­ing­ton state and Col­orado as evi­dence of the chang­ing tide.  Then he talked about how activist involve­ment had made a dif­fer­ence in soft­en­ing some of the more dra­con­ian mea­sures in bills passed by the Michi­gan state Leg­is­la­ture last Decem­ber regard­ing med­ical mar­i­juana, adding that he would intro­duce a decrim­i­nal­iza­tion bill in the state Leg­is­la­ture.  Irwin asked for help in press­ing other leg­is­la­tors to sup­port decrim­i­nal­iza­tion. “We’re going to end the drug war,” Irwin said.  “We’re going to legal­ize mar­i­juana here in Michi­gan.  The amount of blood and trea­sure that we’ve spilled in this failed drug war are an embar­rass­ment to our coun­try.” The Hash Bash came on the heels of a Pew Research Cen­ter poll show­ing that 52 per­cent of Amer­i­cans believe mar­i­juana should be legal­ized.  Speaker after speaker ref­er­enced the poll that, for the first time, showed a sim­ple major­ity in favor of legal­iza­tion.  In the past, polls have shown a plu­ral­ity of Amer­i­cans in sup­port of legal­iza­tion but never a major­ity. “It smells like free­dom,” said Tyvert.  “This is not just the tip­ping point; this is the tip of the ice­berg.” No fool’s day: Things aren’t quite so friendly for the herb in the Michi­gan state Leg­is­la­ture, where folks still seem to look at cer­ti­fied med­ical mar­i­juana patients as pos­si­bly crim­i­nal.  Bills passed in Decem­ber 2012, which went into effect April 1, 2013, put stric­tures on med­ical mar­i­juana in Michi­gan.  HB4856 stip­u­lates that mar­i­juana trans­ported in vehi­cles has to be in a con­tainer in the trunk.  If the vehi­cle has no trunk, then mar­i­juana must be “enclosed in a case that is not read­ily acces­si­ble from the inte­rior of the vehi­cle.” That seems to fol­low the model of alco­hol law, which pro­hibits open con­tain­ers inside cars; how­ever it doesn’t seem to regard mar­i­juana as med­i­cine because I don’t know of any laws for­bid­ding car­ry­ing any kind of med­i­cine inside a car. That think­ing seems to fol­low the same path with HB4851, which requires doc­tors who rec­om­mend mar­i­juana use to estab­lish a “bona fide physician-patient rela­tion­ship” that involves review­ing patient records.  This is all well and good, except it seems as if it’s more a view that med­ical mar­i­juana patients are crim­i­nal. Its ( unstated ) aim seems to be restrict­ing access to patients seek­ing cannabis as a med­ical solu­tion.  For instance, in last week’s Higher Ground col­umn, I dis­cussed a med­ical mar­i­juana patient who was addicted to painkillers.  His pain man­age­ment doc­tor knew noth­ing about mar­i­juana and would not rec­om­mend it for him.  The patient found another doc­tor who would.  He then got off the pre­scribed opi­ates he was addicted to.  He went back to his pain doc­tor and showed that he was off the drugs.  Now, the doc­tor under­stands that mar­i­juana can be use­ful.  Still, with lit­tle train­ing or under­stand­ing of mar­i­juana, and legal issues remain­ing unset­tled, many doc­tors are loath to rec­om­mend it. A cou­ple of years ago I reported about an HIV doc­tor who had been rec­om­mend­ing mar­i­juana for patients.  After State Attor­ney Gen­eral Bill Schuette said that fed­eral law trumped state law, the doc­tor stopped rec­om­mend­ing mar­i­juana for fear of pros­e­cu­tion.  In another case, a patient who had pre­vi­ously been rec­om­mended to use med­i­c­i­nal cannabis went back to his doc­tor for recer­ti­fi­ca­tion.  The doc­tor wouldn’t do it because he had been told that if he rec­om­mended mar­i­juana to his patients he could no longer work at that clinic. Doc­tors are being osten­si­bly pres­sured to eschew a course of treat­ment for fear of ret­ri­bu­tion should they pre­scribe – or even rec­om­mend – a sub­stance that is pur­port­edly “legal.” There cur­rently exists a puni­tive atmos­phere toward physi­cians who choose a “legal” med­ical pro­to­col, which effec­tively places undue hard­ships on patients who may be forced to “shop” for doc­tors who are even open to the idea that mar­i­juana is a use­ful ther­apy. Another part of the same bill allows out­door grows.  How­ever, the gar­den must be enclosed on all sides and not vis­i­ble to the unaided eye.  The enclo­sure must be locked and anchored to the ground.  Any­one plan­ning to grow mar­i­juana should be warned to take a close look at the law – as there are spe­cific mate­ri­als required for use in mak­ing the enclo­sures. April 1 was actu­ally a good day in Rhode Island: A law that was passed last year decrim­i­nal­iz­ing pos­ses­sion of as much as 1 ounce of mar­i­juana went into effect.  The law, first intro­duced in 2010, makes pos­ses­sion a civil offense pun­ish­able by a $150 fine. Get­ting spacey with time: We all know that time is rel­a­tive, and that mar­i­juana users’ time per­cep­tion may get a lit­tle rub­bery while under the influ­ence.  It seems like the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has fallen into that time-vortex when it comes to hav­ing any­thing to say about last November’s legal­iza­tion votes in Col­orado and Wash­ing­ton. U.S.  Attor­ney Gen­eral Eric Holder has said at least a few times since late in 2012 that the Obama admin­is­tra­tion would “soon” have some­thing to say on the sub­ject.  Last month, Holder said the admin­is­tra­tion was “still con­sid­er­ing” its response.  I’m won­der­ing what “soon” means to those folks.  Maybe they’ve inhaled and don’t real­ize that it’s been five months since the his­toric votes.  On the other hand, they have been busy with the fis­cal cliff and the sequester – not to men­tion North Korea threat­en­ing to toss a nuclear weapon at its neigh­bor.  So maybe we just have to hold our breath a lit­tle longer.  As the old west­ern swing song says, “Any­time you’re think­ing ’bout me.  That’s the time I’ll be thinkin’ of you.” …  Any­time, Mr.  Holder. We may not have to wait for him.  Last Fri­day, rumors began cir­cu­lat­ing about a pro­posed bipar­ti­san bill in Con­gress that would pro­tect mar­i­juana users and busi­nesses from fed­eral laws as long as they are com­pli­ant with state laws.  Like I said, any­time. They really meant it: Mean­while, things seem to be mov­ing along in the legal­ized states.  That is if you con­sider the 25 per­cent tax in Wash­ing­ton state and the 38 per­cent tax they’re con­sid­er­ing in Col­orado ( in the Den­ver area ) to be mov­ing along.  They must have really meant it when they said they wanted to “tax and reg­u­late” the sub­stance.  Then again, the Col­orado law allows folks to grow their own in an “enclosed, locked space.” Am I hav­ing déjà vu here? Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI) Col­umn: Higher Ground Copy­right: 2013 C.E.G.W./Times-Shamrock Con­tact: letters@​metrotimes.​com Web­site: http://​www​.metro​times​.com Author: Larry Gabriel

cc91357227ll 600.jpg 150x100 The Marijuana Two step

The Mar­i­juana Two-step

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