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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Michigan Cannabis Movement Now Playing in the Big Leagues - Tim Beck

By Tim Beck
Chairman of the Safer
Michigan Coalition


Dana Nessel taking front and center on stage, when her victory
was officially announced to the convention delegates. 
On April 15, at the Michigan Democratic Party (MDP) Convention at Cobo Hall, the Michigan cannabis reform movement finally flexed its long dormant political muscles.

Working in conjunction with Democratic Party 'progressives', members of a well organized LGBTQ community and the Michigan Education Association (MEA), we threw a knock out punch and elevated Democrat Party outsider Attorney Dana Nessel to carry the flag as the MDP nominee for Michigan Attorney General this November.

From day one, Ms. Nessel made it clear to the world she unequivocally supported cannabis legalization. She even went so far as to have a marijuana leaf on her campaign web site.

In an address to the 176 members of the MDP Cannabis Caucus present, she was treated like a rock star. Members of the caucus chanted Dana! Dana! Dana! over and over and over.

"I would never have made it so far without the cannabis community" she declared. "I will campaign for it (legalization) if I get this nomination. We will use pot money to fix the damn pot holes."

She went on to say "I am the opposite of everything Bill Schuette represents... expect to see opioid addiction decrease when cannabis is legal, and I will fight against Jeff Sessions every step of the way."

Lansing activist Gillian Dawson, newly
elected chairperson of the Michigan
Democratic Party 'Cannabis Caucus'
After she departed, the caucus went on to elect Nessel supporter Gillian Dawson as caucus chairperson.

Dana Nessel's victory is one of historic proportions. She defeated former US Attorney Patrick Miles, who was backed by big labor unions such as UAW and the AFL-CIO, along with various leaders of the Detroit African American community. For years these interest groups had the exclusive power to hand pick all nominees for state wide office in the MDP.

In a tsunami of mainstream media coverage, the Michigan cannabis community was acknowledged as playing a key role in Nessel's win.

While Patrick Miles graciously conceded his loss on the convention podium and pledged to support the full Democrat Party ticket in November, others were not so nice.

Patrick Miles, conceding defeat and urging
all Democrats to support Dana Nessel.
In a diatribe in "Bridge Magazine", African-American political consultant and big labor acolyte Steve Hood lashed out at Nessel supporters.

Predicting disaster for Michigan Democrats in November, Hood declared because the ticket will likely consist of all white women (Gretchen Whitmer for Governor, Dana Nessel for Attorney General and Jocelyn Benson for Secretary of State) the MDP may as well tune up the hearse for a ride to the political cemetery.

Hood went on to say: "in a big upset, Nessel rode a progressive wave to defeat Pat Miles, an African-American and former U.S. Attorney, during Sunday's convention at Cobo Center in Detroit. Miles was backed by unions and traditional Democrats, but she brought thousands of new members to the party by forging a coalition of LGBTQ activists and cannabis proponents."

Detroit NAACP leader and firey orator Rev. Wendell Anthony, said one of Miles greatest advantages, is he has already been vetted by the FBI and found to be flawless. Unlike, presumably, Ms. Nessel.

In more dispassionate terms, Detroit News editorial page chief Nolan Finley insinuated a couple things. In a reference to Nessels's preference for female sex partners, Finley declared that she  'hates men' and her attitude toward gun rights has turned a virtual MDP smash win in November, to a "crap shoot" when the votes are finally counted.

 All men should be "clutching their privates" and voting Republican, Finley grimly intoned.

So what does this all mean?

Some of us are single issue oriented. We just want marijuana legalized for responsible persons. We do not care about political parties or candidates one way or another.

Candidates and political parties who understand our need for freedom and respect, should get our assistance and our votes on election day. No more, no less. Some of us have long preached the gospel to the Republican leadership, but to no avail.

Unfortunately for the Republicans, only viable Democrats like Dana Nessel and Gretchen Whitmer stepped up to the plate way before others. Unless something radically changes, we need to stick with them. That is the only ethical thing to to do.

In retrospect, when the convention ended that Sunday evening, around 50 members of Dana's personal and political family drifted to the upper room of a small bar on Woodward Ave just off Jefferson to celebrate.

There was lots of quiet camaraderie and joy, not too much gloating, and concern as to how we can take this all the way. All the way to real power-- for the best of what our community has to offer the State of Michigan.

There were around a half dozen long time cannabis policy reform persons present and accounted for in that room on Woodward. It was a magic, and special evening.


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