Marijuana Legalization: We Won This Battle, But It Isn’t Over


David Stevens / Cheryl Shuman
Amendment 64 supporters Tuesday night celebrate the legalization of marijuana in Colorado

By Dr. Robert Townsend
“The voters have spoken and we have to respect their will,” Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said in a written statement released by his office. “This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through. That said, federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug so don’t break out the Cheetos or gold fish too quickly.”
The voters have spoken indeed. Legalization in the face of federal law has passed by a large margin in two states, we added the 18th medical state, we nearly got a 19th in the South, and all ballot initiatives supportive of cannabis passed in Michigan. But like the Colorado governor demonstrates, there are many politicians rushing to smoke filled back rooms to try and figure out a way to circumvent the will of the voters. 
Is he isolated in his views? We see so many examples of politicians like Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and agencies like the Department of Justice, HUD, and the ATF doing everything they can to maintain the status quo of prohibition. Private employers hide behind federal law to discriminate against the sick, adopting the position that it is OK to show up to work stoned out of your mind on oxycontin, but if you used cannabis 3 weeks ago… welcome to the world of unemployment. 

Physicians are routinely ordered by their employers to refuse to certify well qualified medical patients for cannabis, and even with a card you can’t buy a rifle or go deer hunting with your child if the ATF has its way.

Brittney Lohmiller/The Saginaw News
Dr. Bob Townsend: “The voters spoke. You need to listen.”

We have gained significant victories in the polls, both on the local and national levels. The tide has clearly turned in our favor.  But we need to show some dignity and PROVE we deserve the trust the voters have shown us.
Michigan is still a medical state, though there are local measures that seem to support recreational use. Let’s not go wild and have the situation of a makeshift dispensary on every corner, open use, and other actions that can only help our opponents as they point out “abuses” of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act.
We won this battle, but the war isn’t over. We can still face setbacks (example… Montana). We need to take the high road.
As for Schuette, Gov. Hickenlooper, employers, HUD and the rest of you. The voters spoke.  You need to listen.
Your choice is simple: Continue your efforts to promote your personal views and department budgets at the expense of those you serve, or get on the right side of history and give us LEADERSHIP. Reassess your policies to reflect the scientific and medical evidence and obvious will of the voters.
We want to work. We want homes and apartments. We don’t want to have secrets from our family doctors.
Work with us under the framework we are establishing and remove the need for us to go to the polls, or we will continue to write and pass ballots, initiatives, and local ordinances that will FORCE you to evolve or be replaced.
Rather than concentrate on bills that make it easier for law enforcement to track and prosecute us, concentrate your efforts on the distribution/taxation system, reform employment laws to protect us, and show us in general we shouldn’t fear our own leaders and protectors.
We want to work with you. Will you listen to us?
Dr. Bob
Editor’s note: For more information on Dr. Bob’s work, visit