Dispensaries OK in my book as long as they are regulated
June 30, 2010 - I'm pleased to see Oxford Township has been taking a rational, logical approach to the issue of medical marijuana dispensaries, instead of just prohibiting them.
However, now it seems the fate of dispensaries is going to come down to whether the township board is willing to spend the tax dollars necessary to craft its own regulatory ordinance or take the cheap and lazy way out by just banning them. See story on Page 4.
Although I'm generally not a big fan of spending taxpayer money, in this case, I hope the township will make the wise investment to create its own ordinance.
Whether you like it or not, 63 percent of Michigan voters approved the legal use, possession and cultivation of medical marijuana in the November 2008 election.
I voted 'yes' and would do so again.
And before someone starts screaming that the state vote wasn't reflective of "Oxford's community values," let me point out that Oxford voters in 2008 approved legalizing medical marijuana by a margin of 6,386 to 3,753. That works out to 62.98 percent approval.
Whether you like it or not, there are people with serious health problems whose symptoms are greatly alleviated whenever they smoke or otherwise ingest medical marijuana.
I'm not going to deny them the help they need because some of us spent too much time believing everything the D.A.R.E. officers told us while riding around in their flashy cars or watching the 1936 propaganda film "Reefer Madness."
Are there people out there who are abusing the state's medial marijuana law?
I'm quite certain there are.
But I'm willing to bet the number of legitimate patients greatly outweighs the number of people who are taking advantage of the law to simply get high.
According to Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, "The abuse of prescription drugs is our nation's fastest-growing problem."
Yet, we're not rushing to ban pharmacies, jail doctors or dump our Vicodin and Viagra down the toilet.
Why? Because we recognize that the vast majority of people are helped by prescription drugs and use them responsibly.
I believe the same is true of medical marijuana and its users, the majority of whom are seeking a form of relief, not recreation.
And before someone says, "The difference is prescription drugs are approved by the FDA, something medical marijuana is not," let's remember how many FDA-approved drugs have been yanked off the market because they turned out to be deadly or have severe side effects.
I'm all for allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in Oxford Township to help fill a few empty storefronts, generate tax revenue and genuinely help patients who require their services. But I believe these dispensaries should be strictly regulated – just as pharmacies are by state governments – given their potential for abuse.
To me, the Village of Dryden in Lapeer County did a bang-up job with their ordinance regulating dispensaries. I urge people to visit www.villageofdryden.com and read it for themselves.
Some of the things I liked about the ordinance include:
n Dispensaries must have permits approved and issued by the village council.
n There shall be no more than one dispensary for every 1,000 village residents.
n Set hours of operation.
n No one under the age of 18 is allowed on the premises of a dispensary unless they have a valid medical marijuana registry card and are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
Dryden's ordinance is definitely a model to follow. I commend that village council.
As far as marijuana of any kind still being illegal according to federal law, I say to heck with the feds.
Medical marijuana is a classic example of a states' rights issue. As such, its legalization should be decided on a state-by-state basis, not at the federal level.
Michigan voters approved it and that's good enough for me.
I would argue the federal law is not valid – no matter what the senile Supreme Court says – based on the doctrine of states' rights and the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. I'll make my stand with Thomas Jefferson who in 1798 wrote the Kentucky Resolutions. Never has a more eloquent or concise statement in favor of states' rights been expressed:
"Resolved, that the several States composing the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but that by compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States and of amendments thereto, they constituted a general government for special purposes, delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force ..."
I think Oxford Township's on the right track when it comes to allowing and regulating medical marijuana dispensaries.
I hope officials will stay on that track and not get derailed by financial issues, or worse yet, the fear-mongering of self-righteous Moral Majoritarians and overzealous law enforcement folks.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.