Only ONE cannabis plan deserves support: MiLegalize

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Ken Wachsberger

In the election on November 4, Ohio voters rejected a plan to legalize marijuana. Ohio votes are notorious for being inaccurate. At minimum, machines break down somewhere in the state during major elections. This year it was in Cincinnati, where no provisional ballots were supplied and the polls were forced to stay open beyond the usual closing time. But there can be no doubt that the statewide vote resulted in a landslide defeat, somewhere in the range of 2:1.

Good or bad for marijuana advocates?

Save your breath for your next toke. It was good, and it bodes well for Michigan voters as they consider which of three competing cannabis-related proposals to support in next year’s presidential election.

The first, sponsored by Michigan Responsibility Council, divides the state into ten fiefdoms, each controlled by a different Republican. Remember the movie The Mask of Zorro with Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, where Don Rafael Montero shows his lackey Dons his plan to divide California equally among them? That’s the MRC plan. Think: the Don Montero plan.

It’s the corporate-controlled plan that our friends in Ohio soundly rejected. If it had passed, ten small groups of monopolist capitalists would have wrested control of Ohio’s emerging industry from grassroots advocates who nurtured it all these years and brought it to where it is now; having failed, medical and recreational cannabis remain illegal. It’s lose-lose for our friends in Ohio, though desperate medical marijuana advocates in the state played the “better than nothing” card and reluctantly backed it.

The Michigan Cannabis Coalition bill will legalize cannabis but then let the legislature determine who controls what, set the tax rate, and control other aspects of the cannabis infrastructure that should be allowed to form organically. Remember, we live in a state where the government can’t figure out how to fix our roads. Are we going to let them regulate our cannabis industry? Think: the pothole plan.

The MiLegalize ballot proposal, currently in the signature-gathering phase, is the only one that will remove all criminal penalties for distribution, cultivation, and possession of marijuana with the exception of sale to unauthorized minors. No other proposal will liberate marijuana to fulfill its medical and economic potential. Think: the Vote Yes plan.

As of this writing, the first two appear to have suspended their petition campaigns, and are instead working behind the scenes to influence House bills 4209, 4210, and 4827, a carefully orchestrated three-pronged attack on the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act prepared by the caregiver community. Taken together, the three bills create a system that inserts the government between providers and patients in matters affecting growth, production, and sale of medical marijuana. While these bills would legalize provisioning centers and concentrates and edible forms of cannabis, the proposed system would place onerous, expensive, and restrictive licensing and tracking requirements on growers, processors, and dispensaries.

These bills, which have been described as “heinous” by grassroots marijuana advocates, have already passed in the House and are waiting to be debated in the Senate.

But here’s the good news: Whatever ill effects they have on the cannabis community if they become law will be overruled by an MiLegalize ballot victory.

The MiLegalize campaign is historic even on a national level. Michigan won’t be the first state to legalize marijuana but, according to Women Grow’s Allison Ireton, the other states have won legality through corporate ballot initiatives. Vermont is expected to become the first state to legalize marijuana through the legislature. Michigan’s is the only grassroots campaign.

Keep the vision and join the movement because it needs your support to succeed.

And legalization is good for Michigan.

Sign the MiLegalize petition if you haven’t already. (Be sure you’re registered first.) The campaign has collected over 150,000 verified signatures so far; a total of 253,000 is needed by December 20.

Donate to the cause.

And don’t even think about not voting next November.

Ken Wachsberger is an author, editor, political organizer, and member of the National Writers Union.


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