Former Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox admitted on Friday that he smoked marijuana in high school during the 1970s. (Hey, what a coincidence, so did I!) But during a symposium on marijuana reform, Cox said there are problems with legalizing cannabis, and he wouldn’t support moves to do that in the state.
Cox was the keynote speaker at a daylong symposium on Friday which explored the social, economic, health and legal impacts of marijuana reform. The event was held at Wayne State University’s Law School.
Cox said during his speech that the Michigan Legislature needs to step up and address the ambiguities in the 2008 medical marijuana law approved by an overwhelming 63 percent of voters statewide.
Among other things, lawmakers should provide for safe access through dispensaries and create a patient registry, according to Cox, who said there isn’t enough “honest dialogue” about marijuana.
“Intoxicants are hard to talk about,” he said.
“Instead of browbeating and trying to make ordinary citizens into criminals, we should allow ways for ordinary citizens to avoid being criminals,” Cox said, reports Jonathan Oosting at MLive.com
The former gubernatorial hopeful said he believes medical marijuana dispensaries are consistent with voter intentions, even if they weren’t directly authorized in the referendum they approved.
“The people said that ‘If I’m eligible for medical marijuana, I should have access to it,’ ” Cox said. “I would like to see the Legislature pass a law that makes way for dispensaries so we don’t have these fights.”
“It was refreshing to hear a realistic perspective,” said Jamie Lowell, founder of 3rd Coast Compassion Center, a dispensary in Ypsilanti.
“I wish our current administration would have that mentality,” said Debra Amsdill, owner of three Blue Water Compassion Center locations that were raided last month. “I think there’s a whole lot of other things and issues in Michigan to be worried about besides throwing patients to the ground who have gone through the hoops to get their state issued cards.”
National and local expert panelists at Friday’s symposium discussed current and proposed cannabis laws, including conflicts between federal and state laws, policy and enforcement.
The event comes as activists have launched a petition drive collecting signatures for a constitutional amendment that would legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older. That effort, spearheaded by the Committee for a Safer Michigan, needs to collect 322,609 signatures by July 9 to qualify for the November ballot.
The drive has recruited nearly 2,000 volunteers across the state, according to campaign director Matthew Abel, who said he hoped the WSU forum would further the cause of legalization.
“I hope it will educate people how and why prohibition doesn’t work, won’t work and needs to be repealed,” Abel said.
But current Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, a vocal and obnoxious foe of medicinal cananbis, claims the whole business is a sham and a back door to complete legalization.
“Most responsible statewide leaders will oppose the legalization of drugs,” Schuette said earlier this month. “We are trying to rebuild Michigan and rebuild the economy. This petition doesn’t mean more jobs, it it doesn’t keep our communities safe.”
Since Michigan voters approved medical marijuana in 2008, about 130,000 patients have been registered with the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, with hundreds of dispensaries have opened statewide to widely varying receptions.