Pubdate: Wed, 8 Oct 2014
Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Column: Higher Ground
Copyright: 2014 C.E.G.W./Times-Shamrock
Author: Larry Gabriel
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Michigan)
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


If you can't beat 'em at the ballot box, do it with administrative and
quasi-legal shenanigans.

That seems to be the way East Lansing City Clerk Marie Wicks and
Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum have managed to keep a vote on
legalizing marijuana off the East Lansing ballot this fall.

"In 11 other cities the same thing will be voted on," says attorney
Jeffrey Hank, chair of the Coalition for a Safer East Lansing, which
ran the petition initiative. "They're playing games with democracy. We
are pissed off."

On July 29, the Coalition for a Safer East Lansing turned in petitions
to put the question of legalization on the ballot in East Lansing.
There, as in 11 other cities that will vote on it next month, the
language is to allow adults 21 and older to use, possess, or transfer
one ounce or less of marijuana on private property. By law, Wicks, an
official appointed by the city manager, had 45 days to validate the
signatures. She dragged her feet, taking the entire 45 days and
missing the Aug. 12 deadline to get it on the ballot.

Wicks then said the question would appear on the 2015 ballot. However
Jeffrey Hank, an East Lansing attorney who is chair of the coalition,
sued the city to place it on the 2014 ballot. Last week, Ingham County
Circuit Court Judge James Jamo ruled that Wicks take the steps
necessary to place it on this year's ballot. I left a message at
Wicks' office but had not received a reply by press time.

Now Byrum says the question will not be on this year's ballot because
the ballots are already printed and some East Lansing voters have
already turned in their absentee ballots. According to Hank, Byrum
said it would cost $6,500 to reprint the ballots. When Hank offered to
raise the money to pay for the reprint, he says Byrum came back with a
$16,000 cost for the job.

"We're willing to pay, but now the county clerk has raised the price,"
says Hank. "I think we're being screwed with at every level. It's
completely unacceptable."

The East Lansing petition collection took longer than anticipated,
although the initiative reached the city clerk more than 90 days
before the election. At one point Wicks claimed that there were not
enough valid signatures, but in the end there were enough for the
petition to qualify. Throughout this process, East Lansing has
retained counsel from the Lansing office of Miller Canfield, one of
the top houses in the state.

"Why is the city of East Lansing spending so much money trying to
delay democracy?" asks Hank. "The priorities of this government are
astounding. They can't even fix the sidewalks." It does seem peculiar
in view of the fact that three of the five East Lansing City Council
members have publicly supported the initiative. The elected council
hires East Lansing's city manager, clerk, and attorney.

The proposed change in law would not apply to Michigan State
University, and most students would not qualify to vote in the local
election. Lansing voters passed a similar law in 2013.

Hank is still pursuing the issue, but it doesn't look like voters in
East Lansing will cast ballots on this question. The Coalition for a
Safer Michigan set out with ambitious plans early this year to have
this question on the ballot in as many as 19 cities across the state.
Although the group fell short of that number, having the question on
11 ballots is still quite the accomplishment.

A proposed rule change affecting the medical marijuana registry
program has been ripped by the state Joint Committee on Administrative
Rules (JCAR).

The Bureau of Health Care Services, which is within the Department of
Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), has proposed requiring an
online-only registration system for medical marijuana patients. The
bureau argued that the online system would be more efficient and
eliminate applications that were hard to read and missing

The National Patients Rights Association, a pro-medical marijuana
group, issued a statement saying, "In light of the proposed online
registration, we are concerned for the patients who may not have
access to the Internet. This is most often the case for patients who
are elderly, live in rural areas or are disabled. It is important to
continue the option of paper applications for their

Rep. John Pappageorge (R-Troy), chair of JCAR, seemed to side with
patients on this one and ordered the bureau to review the requirement.
He suggested that a paper application be available for patients who
cannot access a computer. When a LARA official suggested that the
paper requirement would cause problems for the department, Pappageorge
replied, "You have to eat those problems. Focus on the public, not on
the efficiency of your operation."

Technology and medical marijuana have crossed paths recently in a
unique fashion. The Israeli company Syqe Medical has developed a
pocket-sized, metered-dose inhaler for medical marijuana that is
Wi-Fi-enabled and can be connected to a smart phone or tablet. In
addition, 75 percent of the parts can be produced on a 3-D printer.

The Israelis have lapped us again when it comes to medical marijuana,
while American politicians keep claiming we don't know enough about
the weed.

The Syqe inhaler, a vaporizer of sorts, can deliver a measured dose
that patients and doctors can monitor to ensure that it's being
correctly administered.

"We are directly manipulating the human psyche in a very precise
manner," Syqe CEO Perry Davidson told the Wall Street Journal. "A
physician could prescribe a custom-tailored, individualized treatment
for that patient, and not have a hit or a miss, but a very close hit
on the accurate dosing that the patient required."

A video about the inhaler makes the case that this "precise and
predictable" system will deliver cannabis with "pharmaceutical level

I don't know that this is such a big breakthrough as the Syqe
propaganda claims, but it sounds way cool that it can be made with a
3-D printer. Maybe it will send marijuana fans everywhere out to the
3-D printer store and push that technology over the top.

It took several months, but in July the sales of recreational
marijuana surpassed that of medical marijuana in Colorado for the
first time in July. That month, the state collected $838,711 from a
2.9 percent tax on the medical kind and $2.97 million from a 10
percent sales tax on the recreational kind. Calculations from the
Cannabist, a Colorado site focused on marijuana news, made the call
that recreational beat medical by just under $1 million in sales.

Speaking of taxes, the folks from have produced an
analysis showing retail production and sales of marijuana in the
United States would produce about $3 billion in taxes annually. The
state-by-state analysis took usage, market size, and local tax rates
into account and assumed a 15 percent excise tax on commercial
production. Something in this range was reported several years back.
Maybe if we keep repeating those words it will become true.
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MAP posted-by: Richard