MI Legalize, MCC, or None of the Above?
With raids continuing on dispensaries and caregivers across the state, and no relief in site from house bill 4209, the Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act, many remain hopefully optimistic that legalization will come to Michigan via the ballot box. Committee to Ban Fracking and MI Legalize have been thwarted by the state board of canvassers in their attempt to implement a change in the 180 day rule for validating petition signatures. Regardless, until June 1st the two petitions to legalize by means of statutory initiatives from MI Legalize and the Michigan Cannabis Coalition (MCC) will continue to raise funds and pay for professional signature crews and dominate the mainstream news coverage.
What most people don’t know is what progress these ballot committees have actually made regarding actual signature turn ins and validity rates. Both MI Legalize and the MCC have non-disclosure polices regarding aspects of their two campaigns. Interesting enough, neither group has demonstrated a likelihood of actually making the ballot in 2016. Both groups have long passed the initial turn-in deadline, which was last year, are burning money to try and start virtually new campaigns in regards to signature gathering, due to the fact that signatures turned in prior to December of last year are stale and void according to the current election law.
So why would the MCC and MI Legalize run underfunded campaigns against each other? MCC seems positioned to drive the cost of professional signature gathering just high enough to be able to keep other groups from making their final goal. Both groups seem more to be positioning themselves for a rematch in the year that follows. With the death of Paul Welday, the Michigan Responsibility Council (MRC) and their members will remain a mystery. Other then Tim Beck and Adam Macdonald, no other associates of the MRC have disclosed their political agenda for the Michigan medical marijuana industry.
Robin Schneider reported that she and the National Patient Rights Association (NPRA) met with MRC last year. It was reported that the MRC was looking at a six-company monopoly for cultivation of all cannabis in Michigan. When conflict with the zoning laws prevented a statewide ballot initiative from being viable, the MRC focused their attention on passing a corporate style commercial cultivation program by rewriting HB 4209, changing it in the senate from caregiver supplied program to a licensed facility program modeling the tiered liquor distribution system in Michigan.
Meanwhile, Adam Macdonald and Board Members of MI Legalize led a failed joint referendum campaign to overturn the Detroit dispensary ordinance. Botching the signature gathering and turning them in late ended up working well for Macdonald’s dispensary Natures Alternative, which will be able to apply for a variance during the approval process. Terrence Mansour, Robin Schneider and Adam Macdonald went on record, advocating the need to restrict new dispensaries in Detroit. Defector from Michigan Cannabis Development Association, George Brikho, has sounded the whistle about Terrence’s greedy attempt to take over large portions of the medical marijuana market, with the help of the owner of Wild Bill’s Tobacco and other Lansing insiders using this three-tiered approach to medical marijuana.
After establishing a play-to-play policy for dispensaries in Detroit, Nature’s Alternative opened a second location in Lansing. Last month, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero surprised everyone by announcing a moratorium on new dispensaries in Lansing and expressed concerned about too many dispensaries in the capital. Although the attempt to place restrictive dispensary legislation has failed for right now, the fight to control local markets is on.
Considering how much influence various dispensary groups like the NPRA and the MCDA have on board members of MI Legalize, as well as state and local medical marijuana policies, many have pointed out a legitimate conflict of interest. If the NPRA willingly sabotaged an effort to referendum the Detroit dispensary ordinance in exchange for special consideration will they do the same in Lansing? Are their agents on the Board of MI Legalize playing both sides of the MRC to position their friends in the industry, and secretly controlling the legalization movement to manipulate the system? If that were true, players like Adam Macdonald and the NPRA can support both MI Legalize and MRC, skillfully manipulating both.
This really is no surprise to those from those who have seen this coming for some time. Back in 2010, then Grand Rapids City Attorney, Catherine Mish, explained the plan to use case law to go after caregivers and patients and erode the MMMA. Why did Jamie Lowell and Robin Schneider, at that time working with Michigan Association of Compassion Centers (MACC), not work to build a coalition to defeat this legal tactic? All the so-called marijuana lawyers knew all about it, but never came together to mount a legitimate resistance. No collective effort was made to unite the medical marijuana industry, but rather every time a unification effort took place, like with the Cannabis Stakeholders Group, the agents of MACC would infiltrate and disrupt any progress to protect patients and caregivers.
If there has been one thing the MI Legalize has accomplished is to have meeting with the NPRA, MRC and prevent any unification for medical marijuana professionals. Is MI Legalize just another one of our efforts to end the war on marijuana users to be infiltrated and disrupted by the big money people of Michigan? Obviously, the establishment in Michigan has been eyeing marijuana as a big prize and certain organizations like the NPRA and MCDA have been seduced by dreams of massive wealth creation to join forces with the powers that be in Michigan.
Tim Beck, from Coalition for a Safer Michigan, has been very plain in explaining his motivation. “I only have so much time,” Beck explains. “I want very badly for this (legalization) to happen in my lifetime. I cannot work with an underfunded campaign. Remember the golden rule: He who has the gold makes the rules.”