Pubdate: Fri, 12 Aug 2011
Source: AlterNet (US Web)
Copyright: 2011 Independent Media Institute
Author: Nate Bradley
Note: Nate Bradley is a former police officer and an advocate for patient
rights. He the executive director of Lawmen Protecting Patients and is
a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.


The lives of medical marijuana patients in Oakland County, MI and 
Oakland, CA are as different as night and day. 

For Oakland residents who want marijuana policies that protect public
safety and secure access for medical marijuana patients, it is the
best of times and the worst of times. It just depends on which Oakland
you live in.

The lives of medical marijuana patients in Oakland County, Michigan
and Oakland, California are as different as night and day. While
medical marijuana patients in Oakland, CA are protected and treated
like law-abiding citizens, medical marijuana patients in Oakland
County, MI aren't so fortunate. Since 2008, when medical marijuana was
legalized in Michigan, dozens of legitimate patients have been raided
and prosecuted like common criminals.

On the other hand, over the last few years, the Oakland (California)
Police Department has been very progressive in taking steps to ensure
that medical marijuana patients are protected under the law.

For example, Oakland PD invited advocates into their police academy to
make sure their cadets were properly educated on issues surrounding
medical marijuana.

Oakland PD also changed its arrest policy to require officers to
obtain approval from their on-duty sergeants before they arrest anyone
with a medical marijuana card for possessing marijuana.

This policy has reduced the number of patients clogging the court
system because of arrests that would most likely have been thrown out
when they got to trial. It has also helped build trust between the
police and Oakland's burgeoning marijuana community.

Oakland, CA has chosen to license and regulate medical marijuana
dispensaries instead of raiding them. They have created over 1,000 new
jobs, with the average legal marijuana employee making $25 an hour
including family health care coverage.

By taking these forward-thinking steps, Oakland has been able to blaze
the way for other cities in California that have chosen to "tax and
regulate" instead of "raid and prosecute" when it comes to medical

As a former police officer and current medical marijuana patient
(whose life was literally saved by this medicine) I applaud the city
of Oakland for taking a sensible and safe approach to medical
marijuana regulation.

Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the residents of Oakland
County, Michigan, where "reefer madness" is apparently still
entrenched into the core of local government, even though the state's
voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative legalizing medical
marijuana in 2008.

Recently the Oakland County Narcotics Enforcement Team raided the
homes and business of numerous medical marijuana patients and
caregivers. They destroyed plants using alcohol Prohibition-era tactics.

What was their justification for using taxpayer money to raid and
arrest medical marijuana patients?

According to Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard, the state's
medical marijuana law doesn't specifically mention collectives and
co-op grows. He claims that means such operations are illegal. What
Sheriff Brouchard fails to realize is that nothing in the law
prohibits medical marijuana caregivers from joining together and
acting cooperatively to grow and consolidate.

And that's exactly what these individuals were doing.

After the raids, Sheriff Bouchard likened the patients' activities to
"organized crime," claiming they were trying to turn Michigan into a
"Cheech and Chong" movie. Then, just to add salt on an open wound, the
prosecutor obtained a court order prohibiting many of the patients who
had been arrested from even using medical marijuana in accordance with
their doctors' recommendations.

So much for being innocent until proven guilty.

Oakland County needs to understand that every dollar spent on raiding,
arresting and prosecuting medical marijuana patients and caregivers is
a dollar that won't be spent on raiding, arresting and prosecuting
child molesters and rapists.

If they choose to continue with the raid and prosecute tactics, they
will only continue to squander taxpayer money and hurt their most
venerable citizens: the sick people the medical marijuana law was
enacted to help.
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.