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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Who's Afraid of Donald Trump in Michigan? - by Tim Beck

     Well, if we believe some local and national media reports, we should all be afraid. One could get the impression it will be hell on earth for practically every cannabis user and business person in Michigan, should Trump and his crew go on a jag. Don't swallow it. The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act of 2008 (MMMA) of which I played a key role in creating, was specifically written to withstand attacks by a hostile Federal government.

     Back in the bad old days in 2007, the George W. Bush regime in Washington was loaded for bear. They were arresting patients, going after growers, and busting California dispensaries using their power under Federal law.

     The question facing the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and its supporters at that time (MPP was responsible for  funding and passing the ballot initiative, which made medical cannabis legal in Michigan)  was how to have a workable medical marijuana program and at the same time, make it practically impossible for the Federals to enforce their cruel laws.

     So we came up with the "caregiver" system, where medical marijuana would be produced by thousands of small time growers all across the state. Such a system was designed to overwhelm Federal resources. With state and local police now out of the mix, patients would be assured a viable supply of medicine.

     It has been ten years, since the original MMMA was written. Things have evolved from there. The program now has 240,000+ patients and over 40,000 caregivers. Some of us believe  thousands of "recreational" users have found refuge under the auspices of the MMMA. The Legislature has refined the law over the years; and it is highly likely a well funded legalization effort, spearheaded by the MPP, will go to Michigan voters in November 2018.

     One thing however, has not changed. The caregiver system is and will continue to be in place come what may. It will not be changed by any legalization efforts. In spite of efforts by hostile members of State Legislature to destroy caregivers in the past, the system has withstood the test of time.
To put this all into perspective, a caregiver is allowed to grow up to 72 plants for themselves and their patients. If each caregiver is producing half that number, there are now over 1.4 million marijuana plants growing under the protection of Michigan law. With the Federal DEA's limited resources, the vast majority of these plants will never be uprooted. Our people living in "Pure Michigan" will be adequately supplied come what may.

     At this juncture, the question on all of our minds is what is the Trump administration going to do, if anything?

     My prediction is  nothing serious is going to happen. Yes, the US Attorney General, the Chief of Homeland Security, the White House press secretary and the new Drug Czar have all expressed their dislike for marijuana. However, Trump himself has been silent for many months on the issue, and as of this writing nothing has changed. Accordingly, it is my belief Trump himself is the one calling the shots, not his subordinates.

     Some of you old timers reading this blog will recall the President Richard Nixon years. Nixon was not nicknamed "tricky Dick" for nothing back then. Oftentimes Nixon would say one thing and then do something else. When members of the press asked Nixon's Attorney General, John Mitchell, what was going on with Nixon's behavior; Mitchell replied: "watch what we do, not what we say."

     Seems to some of us watching President Trump's mode of operation, that there are parallels to the Nixon era. That could be good or bad for cannabis consumers. So far, Trump's appointees have been all talk and no action. Let's hope it stays that way. In the meantime, Michigan has the best designed system in the USA to resist a new Federal assault.

Tim Beck is Chairman of the Safer Michigan Coalition. The Coalitions's goal is to fully legalize the use of cannabis by all adults in Michigan.

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