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Legalizing Marijuana in Michigan

Page history last edited by Eric Kroepel 9 years, 11 months ago

Legalizing Marijuana in Michigan

 

“God's most glorious gift to mankind: green, weed, bud, dope, pot, herb, grass, the great smoke-shit. This wonderful plant, when rolled into a joint, blunt or packed into a bowl etc., is the single most effective way to relax and be at ease known to man. It can be smoked from joints, blunts, pipes, bongs, hookahs, one-hitters, bubblers and indeed just about anything.” So what exactly is all the controversy about over a THC enriched plant? Since 1965, the time Marijuana became highly used and recognized, a Marijuana smoker has been arrested every 38 seconds, which makes 20 million marijuana-related arrests since then, just in the United States! Punishments for possession or use of Marijuana vary between different states across the United States. In California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill (SB 1449) on October 1, 2010 (effective on January 1st, 2011), turning the possession of less than one ounce of Marijuana from a severe criminal misdemeanor into a civil infraction. California also proposed a legalization of Marijuana called Proposition 19 which was held on November 2, 2010 as a statewide ballot. The Proposition was defeated, however, as the results were 53.5% No and 46.5% Yes. How can Marijuana be so bad if almost 50% of California voters want it legalized? But even if the plant was legalized in California, it would still be illegal under federal law, which surpasses state law any day. The truth about Marijuana is stretched very far by people who do not want it around, although most of the people in the United States use it. Websites are created as well as books or even media advertisements which shuns the Marijuana flower to scare the public away from it, giving false information on how bad Marijuana is for the body and economy while there are actually many benefits from legalizing the THC plant. Some general benefits include great revenue from taxation, increased jobs and beneficial services to the public, less incarceration and supervision of certain marijuana offenders, savings up to several tens of millions of dollars annually to state and local governments and assisting the individuals with medical conditions who do not qualify for treatment by current medicinal marijuana laws. All of these factors will be achieved by taxation and regulation of Marijuana through new businesses in Michigan whom distribute various potencies of Marijuana to the public.

 

Over the years, Marijuana has made several names for itself, but no matter what one calls it, the nicknames all refer to the flowering tops and leaves of a plant scientifically known as Cannabis. Cannabis grows naturally all over the world and can produce Hemp, a soft, durable fiber that is cultivated from the Cannabis plant used to make fabrics and fibers, which are produced to make many materials used in daily life such as foods, paper, construction products and oils. Hemp isn’t the main reason why Cannabis is so controversial; it is due to the mind-altering drug known as Delta-9-THC and Delta-8-THC, or THC that Cannabis contains. All the psychoactive effects of Marijuana have been produced by Delta-9-THC and Delta-8-THC which are the only two compounds in Marijuana that have this affect on the brain. Delta-9-THC is much more abundant than Delta-8-THC, therefore the psycho activity of Marijuana is due to the effects of Delta-9-THC. “Buds” some call it, are what carry the most THC chemicals; these are the upper leaves, or epidermal glands which produce cannabinoids that support the flowers of the Marijuana plant. “All recent studies have indicated that the behavioral effects of THC are receptor mediated. Neurons in the brain are activated when a compound binds to its receptor, which is a protein typically located on the cell surface. Thus, THC will exert its effects only after binding to its receptor. Binding to a receptor triggers an event or a series of events in the cell that results in a change in the cell's activity, its gene regulation, or the signals that it sends to neighboring cells." This is the “High” feeling one gets when they smoke or ingest the THC chemical. When someone smokes a joint, the THC goes directly into the lungs, then into the heart which pumps it into the bloodstream which then takes it to the brain. Someone smoking Marijuana will be “High” in a few minutes compared to ingesting it where it would take a little longer because it has to pass through the digestive system first.

As stated before, Marijuana is illegal under federal laws. If Marijuana did become legal in Michigan under the state law, it will still be federally illegal. Considering what might happen if marijuana is fully legalized in Michigan, Legal Scholars have said:

  • The federal government would not be able to require Michigan law enforcement agencies to help them enforce the federal law.
  • Federal law enforcement officers can continue to arrest and prosecute the use, sale, possession or production of marijuana in Michigan.
  • As a matter of practice, most marijuana arrests are made by state law enforcement officers. In 2008, there were 847,000 marijuana-related arrests throughout the country. About 6,300 of these arrests were performed by federal agents. That's less than 1% of all marijuana arrests.

Universities within the State will continue to prohibit Marijuana on campus since the Federal Drug Free School and Community Act (DFSCA) requires that the universities certify that campus policies prohibit illegal drugs. By federal standards, Marijuana would still be considered illegal. However, during the last thirty years, the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan has some of the most lenient laws on Marijuana possession in the United States. The college town laws state that possession of small amounts of Marijuana end up in a civil infraction subject to a small fine. Since state law has higher power than municipal law, the stricter state Marijuana laws are still enforced on University of Michigan property, and within the city of Ann Arbor.

            Oppositions to Proposition 19 which may be addressed to legalizing pot in Michigan with responses:

  • The way Proposition 19 is written, it "will prevent bus and trucking companies from requiring their drivers to be drug-free. Companies won’t be able to take action against a 'stoned' driver until after he or she has a wreck, not before."
  • Enactment of Proposition 19 will endanger school children because "A school bus driver would be forbidden to smoke marijuana on schools grounds or while actually behind the wheel, but could arrive for work with marijuana in his or her system."
  • Proposition 19 doesn't include a definition of "driving under the influence" and as a result, it is opposed by the California Police Chiefs Association because it could lead to a situation where a driver can legally drive "even if a blood test shows that they have marijuana in their system."
  • Employers would not be able to pre-emotively remove workers who smell of marijuana use from sensitive jobs such as operating heavy machinery or running medical lab tests but would instead have to wait to take action until after an accident occurs.

All of these statements can be related to the consumption of alcohol as well. Legalizing Marijuana in Michigan isn’t just saying that it’s legal; there will be strict laws and consequences to those who do not abide by the set rules, similar to laws against drinking and driving and going to work or school ‘stoned’.

Other arguments that have been made against Proposition 19 include:

  • Problems exist from tobacco and alcohol being legal, why add another to the mix?

Problems exist from tobacco and alcohol because those substances kill thousands of people annually. To be exact, tobacco kills roughly 435,000 people and alcohol kills 81,000 people in one year, in contrast to Marijuana killing zero people a year. People are going to want to party and have fun, escape stress, etc, regardless of how harmful it is to their body. Legalizing Marijuana would greatly increase Marijuana users and decrease alcohol and tobacco users, therefore fewer deaths by harmful substances.

  • Legalization would likely bring with it additional substance abuse in the state, and the long-term public costs associated with that could vastly exceed the amount of new revenue legalized marijuana might bring in."

Look at the unhealthy, obese Americans today, one can’t say that the fast food industry isn’t one of the biggest abused industries, and with that it is the unhealthiest way of eating food. What if there was a fast food place that only served healthy food but at a higher price? Not restaurants, but gourmet drive-thru windows where one can order a steak dinner within 5 minutes. It’s free enterprise, of course it will be allowed. But let’s say someone wants to open up a Marijuana shop, it’s a less harmful way of getting a high compared to the high of alcohol and tobacco, which can both easily be purchased at the required age.

  • Prop 19 would make it more difficult for police to perform warrantless searches

How would that change from now to if Marijuana was legal? Driving under the influence laws would still be effective. If a law enforcement officer smells the scent of Marijuana, sees evidence of Marijuana use or can tell the driver is under the influence by the look in the driver’s eyes, the officer would be granted to search the person through probable cause, as it exists today.

            If Marijuana were to be legalized, free enterprise for Marijuana and accessories would be available to the public. Some general laws regarding the legalization of Marijuana would be similar to rules and regulations of alcohol: A person of age 21 or older may posses up to one ounce of Marijuana. The use of Cannabis must be in a non-public place such as a residence or a public establishment licensed for on site Marijuana consumption. A grower of Marijuana may grow at a private residence in a space of up to 25 square feet for personal use. Revenue from taxation and regulation through free enterprise or government owned shops could result in saving up to several tens of millions of dollars annually to state and local governments by reducing the number of individuals incarcerated, on probation or on parole. The majority of people in United States prisons are non violent offenders. The majority of those people are charged with Marijuana possession or selling. The fact is very few people in power wouldn’t even bother looking at what decriminalizing Marijuana would do for our country. California saved one billion dollars over 10 years by decriminalizing Marijuana while the United States spends 8 billion dollars a year for advertising against the use of Marijuana. Jail cells that are used up by cannabis offenders can be used for other criminals, which would also let law enforcement officers concentrate on violent crimes. The RAND Corporation has found that law enforcement costs for cannabis enforcement are approximately $300 million a year. Cannabis offenders would no longer require mandatory treatment for the usage of Marijuana, therefore a redirection of these funds for other violent criminal offenders.

            Today, Marijuana has become more difficult to deny the truth of its medicinal properties. The naïve perception of the public has undergone a dramatic shift as more and more medical patients use marijuana and discuss the benefits of its use. Because of this, Michigan has passed the Medicinal Marijuana Act from the 63% of Michigan voters in November of 2008. This does not mean that any person can walk into a marijuana dispensary and buy anything as they wish. Patients must have a variety of pain or conditions to apply for medicinal marijuana through a doctor’s referral. If Marijuana became legalized in Michigan, the only trouble to resolve medical troubles would be the cost of a bag of Marijuana. Believe it or not, a Harvard study on April 17, 2007 showed that THC cuts tumor growth in common lung cancer in half and significantly reduces the ability of the cancer to spread, how ironic! The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) noted the following symptoms or conditions under Appendix IV of their Nov. 2002 report titled "Descriptions of Allowable Conditions under State Medical Marijuana Laws":

1.      Alzheimer's Disease

2.      Anorexia

3.      AIDS

4.      Arthritis

5.      Cachexia

6.      Cancer

7.      Crohn's Disease

8.      Epilepsy

9.      Glaucoma

10.  HIV

11.  Migraine

12.  Multiple Sclerosis

13.  Nausea

14.  Pain

15.  Spasticity

16.  Wasting Syndrome"

The mountain of evidence for Marijuana being a treatment for HIV neuropathy pain and other clinical studies suggests there are a number of other disorders and symptoms for which Marijuana has been used for centuries. Marijuana has many benefits as regular medicine does and should be researched and treated like adapted medicine. In fact, Marijuana is safer than most medicines prescribed every day, relieving nausea and vomiting, spasticity, appetite loss, certain types of chronic pain and other debilitating symptoms. On Feburary 16, 2003, Kate Scannell, MD wrote: "From working with AIDS and cancer patients, I repeatedly saw how marijuana could ameliorate a patient's debilitating fatigue, restore appetite, diminish pain, remedy nausea, cure vomiting and curtail down-to-the-bone weight loss." Dr. Scannell concluded by noting: "...almost every sick and dying patient I've ever known who's tried medical marijuana experienced a kinder death."  Marijuana cannot induce a lethal response as a result of drug-related toxicity. A Marijuana smoker would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 Marijuana cigarettes, which is the worst way to smoke it, to induce a lethal response. That’s 1,500 pounds of Marijuana smoked within about 15 minutes.

 

 

            Legalization of Marijuana in Michigan through opening stores by the public and government will greatly increase revenue from taxation and regulation, increase jobs and beneficial services to the public by selling the plant, making edible substances and producing hemp materials from Marijuana. Tens of millions of dollars will be saved annually to state and local governments by reducing the fines of the existent cannabis laws and keeping non-violent criminals out of jails to confine violent and law breaking criminals. Physically and mentally ill patients will greatly benefit from the ease of obtaining Marijuana, thus saving people from suffering and possibly even their lives. All of this can be achieved through legalization and control by creating shops and hemp factories, starting a new industry in one state and hopefully starting a trend to other states to ultimately relieve the biggest problem in America today: Debt. “Why is marijuana against the law? It grows naturally upon our planet. Doesn't the idea of making nature against the law seem to you a bit . . . unnatural?” –Bill Hicks.

 

 

 

Work Cited

THC (marijuana) helps cure cancer says Harvard study. http://www.nowpublic.com/thc_marijuana_helps_cure_cancer_says_harvard_study

Annual Causes of Death in the United States. http://drugwarfacts.org/cms/?q=node/30

Medical-Pot Law Clouds Community http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704393604575614520592992804.html

NAIHC. http://naihc.org/hemp_information/hemp_facts.html

Marijuana: Stuff You Might Not Know You Don't Know. http://www.doitnow.org/pages/151.html

Should marijuana be a medical option? http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/

Urban Dictionary. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=reefer

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