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Friday, April 4, 2014

VGIP - Local Petition Drives 2014

by Ben Horner

     To legalize or not to legalize, that is the question for maybe as many as a dozen cities this year in Michigan. In this election cycle, the VGIP is assisting several of the local petition drives to remove local penalties for possession and use of small amounts of marijuana. So far, cities that the Coalition for Safer Michigan, lead by Chuck Ream, Tim Beck and Justin Soffa, have targeted include: the city of Lapeer, Oak Park, Saginaw, East Lansing, Port Huron, Hazel Park, Onaway, Utica, Mt. Pleasant and several other possibilities.

     So far, the Coalition for a Safer Michigan is 13-0 with these local petition drives, but never have so many cities been attempted in one election cycle. Also important to note, some of these cities are very conservative. Some of the communities in Oakland County that have been targeted may be turned in on time for the August primary. Andrew Cissell is the Oakland County team captain. After his successful campaign in Ferndale last year, which subsequently lead to him being targeted by Oakland County for being a medical marijuana caregiver and political activist, he is highly motivated.  Despite the charges, Mr. Cissell is running for the 27th Michigan House of Representative seat, which covers the Royal Oak area in northern Oakland County.  If he his successful in the local petition drives in Oakland County, it may help him get elected for the Democratic spot in the primary. If he makes it on the ballot as the democratic candidate, and he will most likely be working for our issues in Lansing.  He will also be the only representative that is visibly inked in the Michigan capital.

     Currently in Lansing, legislators are considering bills related to dispensaries, edibles and concentrates. The bills are in the Government Operations Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Randy Richardville. At the first public hearing on these bills last month, there were great testimonies from people in our community, but the Michigan State Police and Department of Public Health expressed oppositions. Their main concern was how the sales would be tracked, should medibles be produced in licensed commercial kitchens, and how they will be tracked for weight verses potency standards. The Cannabis Stakeholders Group (CSG) is actively working to get the best possible results from this round of possible amendments. With super lobbyist Bill Zaagman working with CSG, hopefully we can reverse the trend of losing rights for medical marijuana patients in Michigan. Folks in the medical marijuana community should consider attending their lawmakers coffee hours and  sending a letter with their concerns about the bills. Another positive step would be to support and get active in groups like CSG that are fighting to maintain our rights to grow our own medicine and safely transport, use and transfer amongst qualified patients.

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