Monday, October 20, 2008

Event: ELECTION 2008 : MICHIGAN : PROPOSAL 2008-01 : Medical Marijuana

Proposed Legislative Amendment:

A legislative initiative to permit the use and cultivation of marijuana for specified medical conditions. (Proposal provided under a legislative initiative petition filed with the Secretary of State on November 20, 2007.)

The following is the language of the legislative amendment as it appeared on the legislative initiative petition.


An initiation of Legislation to allow under state law the medical use of marihuana; to provide protections for the medical use of marihuana; to provide for a system of registry identification cards for qualifying patients and primary caregivers; to impose a fee for registry application and renewal; to provide for the promulgation of rules; to provide for the administration of this act; to provide for enforcement of this act; to provide for affirmative defenses; and to provide for penalties for violations of this act.

Full Text here.

Blue Skies Falling: YES

It is true that the legalization of medical marijuana specifically or drugs more generally is not the most pressing issue we face this year. That is, we could stick with the status quo, and things would not get drastically better or worse in the world. It's hard to get away from the "legalize, dude," image of some guy in high school going on and on about how it would be great if we could just get stoned all the time. And on a more personal note, I've always felt that time, money, and energy is in short supply, and all three could be put to better use than providing for legal pot.

These concerns are, however, a major mischaracterization of the real issue.

FIRST, as the language above states, this is a bill to approve marijuana for medical, not recreational use. Similar proposals have been approved and implemented in twelve other states without a noticeable increase in illicit drug use. We need not conjure up images of two-dimensional stoners, nor do we need require that regulatory agency must be written in stone in order to pass meaningful legislation; the proposal is rigorous enough. The drug will be closely regulated by this proposal and will be going to very sick people with their doctors' prescription. Decriminalization is, alas, an entirely different conversation.

SECOND, a consensus has been emerging over the last several decades that marijuana prescription can be appropriate in a medical context. Medical approval has been voiced by such a range of diverse and reputable organizations as the American College of Physicians, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Nurses Association, as well as the American Bar Association and the National Association of Attorneys General, and individuals ranging from Barack Obama and Carl Sagan to Milton Friedman and Ron Paul. The Michigan Democratic Party supports this proposal, as have the Lansing State Journal, the Detroit News, and other news outlets.

Quite simply, the medical community is more reasonably able to assess the merits and drawbacks of medical marijuana. The alternative is to decide this issue in a political setting fraught with emotion and incentive, and few equivalents to the rigor of medical research and peer review. Individual doctors are best able to make decisions in their patients' interests.

Vote YES on Proposal 1.

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