Don’t Be Duped By the Dope

Lady Monica G. Anthony First Lady, Fellowship Chapel               Consultant, Healthy and Productive Michigan

My first memory of marijuana is being a young girl in Chicago and sneaking into a friend’s father’s stash. We would roll it and smoke it in the stairway of the apartment building. I was smoking cigarettes by high-school. I knew then I liked to smoke. I was never one for consuming alcohol nor did I “gateway” into anything else as it relates to drugs or addictive substances.

So here I am thirty-years later saying, “NO on Proposal 18-1.” This is the proposal, on the upcoming November 6th ballot, to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. My position is shocking to most who know me and my stance on marijuana. I am not a prohibitionist!

The State of Michigan, in 2008, legalized medical marijuana. It is regulated under the Licensing And Regulatory Affairs (LARA) department. As we all witnessed, it took nearly a decade to get the regulation and controls addressed to a degree that somewhat appeases the general public and municipalities in which they exist—and it’s still not perfect. There are still many who do not like it and serve as their “neighborhood watchdog” for the activities of, and how, the medical marijuana facilities operate in their communities. Nonetheless it’s the law of the land.

That will be the case should Proposal 18-1 pass. It, too, will be regulated by LARA. There are 6500 words in the document stating what will actually be the law and voters will only see a 100-word summation of that (this is the law for all ballot proposals and initiatives). What the average voter does not realize is this is not just legalization of the marijuana flower or the “herb” that most reference, this includes industrial hemp, infused edibles, drinks, concentrates and other products. So that is my first concern; the lack of full disclosure to what the proposal covers, who it mostly protects and the ambiguous language contained therein.

It is claiming to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol but it actually will not. The State will not have the same regulatory ability like they do with alcohol. Private individuals can grow for personal use, retail sales are limited to specialty retailers, it can be sold in various forms, and production and distribution will not be regulated like alcohol is either. There is a lot that does not involve full disclosure. Sec. 9.7 states, “Information obtained from an applicant related to licensure under this act is exempt from disclosure under the freedom of information act, 1976 PA 442, MCL 15.231 to 15.246”. That means you will not know who is in the deal.

As I’m out here stomping I am sometimes in situations where it is alongside the proponents. What I share with the public is that we can both give numbers that favor our position, some of which are inconclusive but the one number that IS conclusive is that auto-insurance rates increase across the board. Michigan, and Detroit in particular, have the highest auto-insurance rates in the country. We do not need a reason for rates to increase—at all!

Nothing in the proposal addresses harm to local communities. Yes, marijuana is a plant. Proponents are correct about that, however, it does have addictive properties. It is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug. It will still be illegal under federal law. This WILL NOT DECRIMINALIZE it. Employees will not be exempt for repercussions as it relates to workplace drug policies. You can find the specifics of this in Sec. 4.3, “…this act does not prevent an employer from refusing to hire, discharging, disciplining, or otherwise taking an adverse employment action against a person with respect to hire, tenure, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of that person’s violation of a workplace drug policy or because that person was working while under the influence of marihuana.” This should concern not only the community but the business and corporate sector as well.

This is not “old-school” weed! “The average potency for commercially produced marijuana has increased from an average of just 4% by dry weight in 1995 to 12% in 2014. Average potency for commercially produced marijuana in Colorado recently reached 17%, with many strains topping 25% or even higher.” (CannabizJournal 3/30/2017). This increases substantially as it relates to infused edibles and other products. Most of which are not distinguishable between regular cookies, brownies, candy-bars, candies, popcorn and more.

As it relates to social justice and racial disparities and criminal justice reform NOTHING in this proposal addresses this—NOTHING! What would I like to see?
I want true social justice and prison reformation. Let’s expunge records and address current incarcerations of those with non-violent marijuana possession and usage charges. Let’s decriminalize it. This proposal puts the cart before the horse and is typical of how businesses and others try to manipulate voters and the general public by putting their profits and interests before ours. We can tell them not like this by voting NO!

This proposal is about profits not people. This proposal is not our come up. On November 7th when I wake up I will be okay no matter the outcome but there is a larger body of people who will be detrimentally impacted for generations to come. So I say vote your best self interest. But above all VOTE!

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