Why Michigan’s PRA Initiative is a better approach to Marijuana Policy than the previous and future Medical Marijuana Initiatives.
On March 28th, 2001, the US Supreme Court heard arguments in United States verses Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative, 00-151. At issue is whether the Buyers Cooperative can resume the distribution of Marijuana to patients who suffer from AIDS, Cancer, Glaucoma and other diseases where this herb has been found to be helpful. Not surprisingly the court decided unanimously to deny the Buyers Clubs to continue distribution in May of 2001. To understand the significance of this case it is necessary to understand why this case was brought before the Supreme Court in the first place.
In November 1996, California and Arizona were the first states where a majority of voters said, “Yes” to Medical Marijuana ballot initiatives. To facilitate the distribution of Marijuana the initiatives provided for the establishment of cooperatives that could sell to registered patients. This created a conflict with the Federal Governments, Controlled Substances Act (1970), which classified Marijuana as a “Class 1 Narcotic”. As”Class 1 Narcotic” Marijuana is considered to be among our most dangerous drugs and without any recognized medical purpose. Of course this ignores the fact that Marijuana was one of one the first medicinal plants to be cultivated by humans and that virtually every study on Marijuana has concluded that it poses very little risk to individual or society.
But President Clinton acted almost immediately to reverse the will of the people. First he threatened to revoke the licenses of any doctor that recommended Marijuana to their patients. When this was found to be unconstitutional he sued the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Club and five other California distribution clubs in 1998, arguing that the distribution and growing of marijuana broke federal law. U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, brother of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, agreed with the federal government and all but the Oakland Club closed down. Then in 2000 the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that “medical necessity” is a legal defense. But before the Oakland Club could resume distribution Clinton appealed to the Supreme Court, which ruled against the Buyers Clubs. And that is where we are today.
In the last five years voters in Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Washington also approved similar initiatives. Just last year the Legislature in Hawaii drafted and passed a similar bill the governor quickly signed that into law. It is worth noting that these “Medical Marijuana” Initiatives passed in every state where they were placed before the voters, despite government propaganda campaigns intended to defeat the initiatives. And various polls suggest that similar initiatives would pass by a significant plurality in all of the remaining 41 states. It is clear that the American people believe that Marijuana should be made available for medical purposes.
In addition to these 9 states that passed “Medical Marijuana” Initiatives, nearly 70% of the voters in Washington D.C. passed a similar initiative. But the U.S. Congress, doing the bidding of their PAC contributors (e.g. Pharmaceuticals, Alcohol Producers, Tobacco Producers etc.), thwarted the will of the people. First they defunded the counting of the vote, which has got to be one of the most shameful exercises, by our U.S. Congress, to derail the democratic process. Finally, when legal challenges forced acknowledgement of the public will the U.S. Congress exercised its authority to override the will of the people in the District of Columbia. So much for government “by, for and of the people.”
The above example of should serve as a good indicator as to how far the federal government will go to thwart the will of the people when it comes to allowing any legal access to Marijuana. Most activists are also mislead to think that Medical Marijuana is any type of permanent solution. As soon as the Pharmaceutical Industry begins placing “Canabinoid” synthetic medications on the market the days of Medical Marijuana will be over. The government will convincingly argue that synthetic canabinoids negate any need to continue tolerance for Medical Marijuana. And Canabinoid synthetics are only a few years from coming to market.
I have always been opposed to the Medical Marijuana strategy though I have supported it as an interim method of raising consciousness as to the medical properties of this wonderful plant. In my mind altering your consciousness with Cannabis is safer than using alcohol. And the laws should proportionately reflect this reality for all adult Americans.
Fortunately the voters of Michigan may have the chance to end Marijuana Prohibition if we can get the Personal Responsibility Amendment (PRA) on the Michigan Ballot. In order to do this, citizens of Michigan need to gather about 400,000 signatures by October 1st, 2001. For more information on getting involved in this process you can access the following website: www.newagecitizen.com. This site contains information on getting petitions and a listing of large Metro Detroit events where you can join other activists in the aggressive drive to collect 400,000 signatures.