- 01 February 2012
Want to start a fight in the Medical Marijuana Community, mention a new bill that is out and ask what people think of it. You run the gauntlet from thoughtful discussion of the bill, to don't change anything, to long quotes from the current act and justification of why, in the poster's mind, it isn't necessary. Some even attack the messenger personally. Most, unfortunately, already have decided their views on any new bills so reading what is actually in them is not necessary. This is a very good reason why there some people are at the table on the committees in Lansing, and others are not.
When a new drug is brought to the market place, it goes through a series of evaluations. Animal trials, limited human trials, large human trials. Once a medication is approved and released for use, the evaluations do no end there. What is seen with millions of patients may not have come up in trials with a few hundred, sometimes side effects are found that were not even anticipated. They are discovered with post approval event reporting, re-evaluated and may have the directions changed, a caution added, or even withdrawn from the market.
The same can be said of laws like the MMMA. The Act was written to do a simple thing, allow sick people to obtain and use marijuana without fear of prosecution. While that seems like a simple thing to do, in order to accomplish it several things need to be set up. How do we determine who is sick, what conditions are covered, how do the patients get it, and how do we stop them from having unnecessary exposure to the criminal justice system while they use what in reality is an illegal substance. Now that you look at what is involved in accomplishing the goal of letting sick people use marijuana in safety it is easy to see how all the new processes- caregivers, bona fide, transfers, secured enclosed, and others may not have been in the most perfect of forms on the original act. Very few people get it right the very first time they try something and laws are no different. The result is attempts to clear up and polish certain aspects of the Act, some good, some bad. But how do we actually look at these bills?
The bad way is to close our minds to any possible modifications and leave things exactly as they are now. This is seen when you hear people say 'I am not even going to look at it, don't open the Act, or enforce the Act as it is'. The result is what we have now. Questions. Questions end up in court to be resolved, and while that is going on, patients sit in jail. Get it before the wrong court, and additional restrictions are placed on the Act, or the Act can be overturned with a ruling and we lose it, much like nearly every dispensary in the state shut down over the course of a couple of days last August.
The second way of doing it is to speak the same language as they do in Lansing when they make any law. What is the problem the law is designed to fix, how is it not fixed now, how do we propose fixing it, what new problems could our 'fix' create, do we have the support of our fellow lawmakers, will the Gov. sign it, will it be accepted by the people of the state? In order to get the changes we want to see in the Act, this is the process we have to go through.
Problem: Where do I get clones or seeds to start my garden
Currently: Not addressed in the Act
Fix: Allow people to purchase seeds or clones from existing caregivers (with limits, conditions, etc)
Problems: Interstate transfer of plants or clones, number of plants allowed, what is or is not a plant, how to handle a seed destine to be a plant in the count, etc.
Support: Depends on lobbying, reputation of sponsor, networking in capital, good and bad points of the bill, opposition reasons and forces (this is where the fun begins)
Gov: See Support.
People: Will the change be supported by the medical marijuana community and the population at large? How will law enforcement react, did it meet a legitimate need or was it more theoretical?
So, lets look at some problems, and start people thinking about problems they've noticed. Where do we get seeds and clones? Who can transfer to whom? What can everyone agree a bona fide relationship stands for? Should a simple error in an attempt to comply with the Act (like leaving your door unlocked) strip away any protections of the Act or should it have some lesser penalty than felony charges as a drug lord?
FORGET WHAT IS CURRENTLY IN THE ACT!!!!!!! No long cut and paste quotes and dissertations as to what that passage of the law means to you. YOU get to write the law over the problem ANY WAY YOU WANT. Get creative but try and look at it from all aspects, yours, the cops, the ACLU, everyone. I did this the other day over on a compassion club website.
Problem- we don't want patients raided simply for growing legal marijuana, we do want illegal grows raided to enforce the law. Question, how do we tell the difference between an illegal and a legal grow before we go smashing in doors, and possibly finding evidence of other 'offenses' like illegal cable service with otherwise legal, card holding, patients and caregivers? Currently the police and courts need a registration number to access the database, so they raid and check afterwards. If you are legal no charges, but you were still raided.
The solution they came up with was let the courts check the database before issuing the warrant. If there was a card holder there is no crime and there is no warrant or raid. If the police come back with evidence there was a violation of the Act they could then get a warrant, but not for a simple grow.
Don't make the same mistake the members of that club did. Many assumed that the police and courts already have the ability to check the database before a warrant and simply don't. But then, after I mentioned it, they went back to the law and saw the bit about the registration number. Oh yeah, forgot about that, they really can't check before the raid. But the best part was that I had mentioned there was a new house bill and put up a link for it. They burned me at the stake for 'promoting Bill Schuette's gutting of OUR ACT, Don't open it, Enforce what is already in it.' Others attacked me directly, questioning my ethics, morals, and financial interest in the new bill.
What was the bill about? Requiring the courts to check the registry before issuing a warrant on an suspected grow. Yes, that's right, it was the exact solution they came up with on their own as reasonable and protecting privacy while at the same time stopping raids on legal patients and enforcing the law. They opposed it because of all the propaganda out there about opposing all bills because they will 'gut the Act'. The result is that they never opened the link and even looked at the bill before deciding it was horrible and I was the anti-Christ for even bringing it to their attention.
So, in the future, either automatically oppose all legislation and basically become an email o matic for the people you let think FOR you, or make your own decisions. If you hear of a bill, LOOK AT IT. What problem does it address, how does it address it, what problems does it create, and how would you solve the same problem? If you see it is addressing a problem you agree is a problem (or the courts are ruling differently than you think they should), and your way of solving the problem is close to what the bill does to solve the problem, support the bill. Or suggest a change in a personal email to the sponsor of the bill or through your organization. If you think it is a bad bill, be prepared to SPECIFICALLY and concisely say what you don't like about it and why. And then rather than complain, state how you would do it differently.
There are three basic types of people. Those that complain but don't offer solutions, those that identify problems offer solutions, and those that stick their head in the sand. Decide which you will be. And then decide which ones will be the most successful in Lansing when it comes to shaping legislation. Stop complaining your particular group or point of view is not 'represented in Lansing', and instead ask yourself why? Lansing is looking for those in group 2, while groups 1 and 3 don't have much influence there. So the next time you hear 'Don't Open the PEOPLES ACT', ask them if they agree the people are no longer being raided, they can find clones, and they can find meds, and they don't have worry about being arrested, because everyone understands the Act the same way and there are no uncertainties. Then hand them a bucket of sand.