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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Community Leaders meet to regulate Medical Marijuana businesses in the City of Detroit

by Richard C. Clement

"600 Million Dollars a year in taxable revenue from Marijuana" - Harry Smith CNBC

Led by Winfred Blackmon and Marcus Cummings, the Metro Detroit Community Action Coalition is attempting to develop an ordinance to reduce the number of Marijuana related business in the City of Detroit. After further review of their proposal, the group’s attempt is to shut them down and/or severely restrict their growth through the use of the Building Safety, Detroit Fire Department Fire Marshals, and other zoning restrictions that have been deemed illegal by the Michigan Supreme Court.

Developing a Marijuana regulation ordinance based on the theory rooted in the ideology of the late Harry Jacob Anslinger (May 20, 1892 – November 14, 1975) is to re-affirm the failed ideology of prohibition with racism. Anslinger was a United States government official who served as the first commissioner of the U.S. Treasury Department's Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN). He was a staunch supporter of prohibition and responsible for declaring Marijuana a Schedule I drug like heroin with no medical value. He was an avowed racist that described Marijuana as a drug that makes Negros attack White Women. He along with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover sincerely believed this until they died. This mindset was carried on by President Nixon and John Ashcroft who authorized the shooting of two activists by the FBI and Michigan State Police at the Rainbow Farms camp in Vandalia Michigan in 2001. (click here for the story of Rainbow Farms)

In 2015, interviews with high ranking Detroit Police Department officials and neighborhood police officers reveal that DPD has not had a police call for trouble at ANY of the identified places of business by this group.  If places are getting raided, it is because they are doing something more than dealing with Medical Marijuana like gambling and vice. Otherwise these places of business in the district are operating within the law by permission.  This addresses the safety of the neighborhoods issue because if the Detroit Police are not having any incidents of trouble, then where is the danger?

The growth of these business are a reflection of a trend toward decriminalization of Marijuana by Federal, State and Local leaders who see the war on Marijuana as a total failure and agree that something has to change. The war on weed has a disparate impact upon our diverse community and, only serves to keep the economy of the for profit correction system in the black. Mayors like Virg Benero of Lansing and Jan Parisi of Hazel Park have come out of the closet to support decriminalization. This is because they are listening to the people and they are saying loudly and clearly that we want these businesses to patronize.

For this group to use the Detroit Zoning Board, Detroit Police, Detroit Fire, and Building Safety Departments to fight a losing proxy war against Marijuana is a sure loser and a waste of tax dollars. The Detroit Fire Department marshal wants safe entry, exit with no capacity overloads and, fire extinguishers in these facilities, just like any other business. Building Safety wants a code compliant building and, the Detroit Police want to keep the peace.  People who use Marijuana are not violent when they only use Marijuana. They get plenty hungry and that could help sales of food in the community.

The last thing the City of Detroit needs is a 1920 style of the Temperance movement who created alcohol prohibition and you see where this got us as a nation. If we can allow Hookah Bars, Cigar Bars, then what is the problem with a “weed bar”?  Given that Detroit retirees need to have their pensions protected and respected with decent health care coverage, the time may be coming so that retirees can have their Medical Marijuana covered to lower their health costs.

Using the rules of the Voluntary Employee Benefit Agreement (VEBA), the members can vote to make this happen with funds from the sale of legal marijuana to help the pension funds for Police, Fire, and General Employees get financially sound.

We cannot go back to the time where we had people like Marc Emery, a citizen of Canada extradited to the United States to serve 5 years of Federal time in Mississippi for the act of selling marijuana seeds. While Colorado makes $2.5 million dollars a month from legal Marijuana sales for schools, we can do better when we use the Cannabis plant for manufacturing products like cars, homes, fuel, fabric, and 20,000 other uses. Most of the corrections system is full of prisoners for small drug crimes.  We hope that before President Obama leaves office, he will issue a complete pardon to immediately remove these prisoners from incarceration.

Finally we hope that the next President continues the policy on a path of saneness to correct this injustice from the grave of Harry Anslinger in 1939.

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