The medical marijuana movement is partly fiction, a stand-in for legalization. This is not to say that marijuana does not relieve a wide range of ailments, it does. But if Mr. Will and Colorado Attorney General John Suthers believe that medical marijuana will cause people to lose faith in the legal system and "care less as law itself loses its dignity," they are living in their own fictional world. The fact that tens of millions of Americans use marijuana for medical purposes or just to get high, is testament to the disrespect for some laws that marijuana prohibition engenders. This disrespect didn't start with the medical marijuana reforms; it has been going on since the misinformation and outright lies that were used to drum up support for marijuana prohibition were accepted by a gullible Congress in the 1930s. It's time to rectify both fictions; medical marijuana and prohibition through full legalization.
The business of medical marijuana is rapidly evolving in Michigan, with Royal Oak preparing to pass the state's first zoning law to cluster professional growers and the opening in Southfield of a trade school teaching cannabis cultivation. On Tuesday, Royal Oak city leaders are expected to debate a proposed zoning ordinance requiring all licensed medical marijuana caregivers to grow pot in a dispensary in the city's general business district, which encompasses the retail and commercial strip along Woodward Avenue. Officials say the proposed law would not prohibit caregivers from visiting the homes of patients to assist them with marijuana use, or possessing the patient's pot at the patient's home. It would not apply to qualified patients who are physician-certified to grow the drug. Royal Oak planning officials say their actions are an attempt to avoid problems like those faced by Los Angeles, which put a moratorium on new dispensaries in 2007 after they proliferated. Royal Oak city planner Doug Hedges said he expects caregivers to act as a consortium and possibly set up shop together in a storefront as a medical marijuana dispensary. Interest in Michigan's medical marijuana industry is flourishing, and staff is having difficulty keeping up with voice mail requests on the state's marijuana registry phone line, according to the state Department of Community Health. Since April, 10,393 applications have been received on behalf of patients or caregivers wanting to take part in the registry. Of those, 5,873 patient registrations and 2,440 caregiver registrations have been issued. More than 1,800 applications have been denied, according to the state. An average of 66 applications is received daily. In Southfield, some 60 students have already graduated from the Med Grow Cannabis College, where people can learn the trade of growing, cutting, and providing medical marijuana to sick patients, all within the law. The college opened in September after Michigan passed its own Medical Marijuana Act, and state officials began certifying sick patients and caregivers to possess marijuana. Cannabis College operator Nick Tennant, a 24-year-old entrepreneur from Warren, offers a six-week course in all things cannabis: horticulture, history, cooking, law, and advocacy. For $475, students learn how to legally grow, cultivate, and provide medical-grade marijuana to people who are eligible under Michigan law to use the drug to treat their ailments. On a recent class night, Tennant swung open the plain white doors of a growing room inside the college. An array of medical marijuana plants in various stages of growth stood thriving under a high-tech system of ballast lights, vents, and carbon filters. Suddenly a warm woodsy aroma blanketed the classroom of Spartan desks and chairs. The glowing spectacle and the sweet bouquet were too much for students to resist and several scurried around the doors for closer inspection. "Some of these plants are in the early stages of flowering and the buds are developing. This one is ready to be cut," said Tennant, touching the pale green leaves of one well-developed plant. Tennant, whose auto detailing business evaporated in the state's beleaguered economy, said he turned to medical marijuana because he saw the opportunity to help people while creating a viable business model that might bring jobs to Michigan. "A school like this is necessary. It seems like something very simple, to grow marijuana. You put a plant in the ground and let it grow. It's not that simple," said Tennant who is certified as a patient and a caregiver. "There could be mold, pests, problems, and tons of variables. There is a ton of knowledge that needs to be sourced. When you come to our school you have an expert to consult with at each stage." Gwen Brown said she came to the school because she's interested in providing more options to the people that she already acts as a caregiver for including a stroke victim, a person with AIDS, an anorexic patient, and a person suffering from glaucoma and diabetes. "I've done the research and cannabis is the way to go. It's Mother Nature's way of healing," said Brown of Wayne County.