Questions about who really benefits from medical marijuana are now gripping Montana. In the Legislature, a resurgent Republican majority elected last fall is leading a drive to repeal the six-year-old voter-approved statute permitting the use of marijuana for medical purposes, which opponents argue is promoting recreational use and crime. If repeal forces succeed — the House last month voted strongly for repeal, and the Senate is now considering it — Montana would be the first to recant among the 15 states and the District of Columbia that have such laws.
And unlike the situation in sunny California or Colorado, where medical marijuana has similarly surged, growing marijuana indoors is all but mandatory in Montana, a fact that has compounded the capital expenditures for start-ups and spread the economic benefits around further still. An industry group formed by marijuana growers estimates that they spend $12 million annually around the state, and that 1,400 jobs were created mostly in the last year in a state of only 975,000 people. To read the full New York Times Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/06/us/06marijuana.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all.
Is Michigan Next?
The situation in Montana is uncomfortably similar to that in Michigan. Just like Montana, medical marijuana must be grown indoors, specifically in an “enclosed locked facility” under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. This has created a whole new industry outside of the medical marijuana medicine and the medical marijuana plants. Industries that provide needed equipment, supplies, education, consulting, and construction for the legal cultivation and possession of marijuana have experienced a whole new demographic of customers, which in turn has provided a much needed revival in Michigan’s economy. There are undoubtedly more jobs, retail sales, and small businesses emerging from this new industry.
Unfortunately, this economic stimulus is not the only similarity Michigan has to Montana. Last November, elections created a Republican political stronghold state-wide and Michigan’s new Republican Attorney General has made it no secret he disapproves of the medical marijuana laws. State Representative Rick Jones has also used the issue to put himself again in the media spotlight. He was represented at a legislative action committee I sit on relating to the problematic ambiguities with the marijuana law. His office asserted his concern was Patients medicating and driving. What I do not understand is how this differs from the concerns of people taking other medications or drinking alcohol and driving. Actually, I do understand – there is NO difference. Weak and off-topic scare-tactics used as an attempt to erode our rights to cultivate and possess marijuana for medical purposes should be stopped because the people have spoken through their vote in November of 2008.
So, what does all of this mean for Michigan? Given a recent poll, voters still support the legality of medical marijuana. Supporters of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act need to speak out. Contact your State Representative to thoughtfully and respectfully express your continued support for the legalization of medical marijuana in Michigan.