Medical Marijuana Rally Draws Hundreds
September 06, 2011
Meaghan M. Norman, WILX-TV
Hundreds of medical marijuana users and supporters took to the Capitol steps on Wednesday, telling lawmakers that they're breaking the law of the land. The Medical Marijuana Act passed overwhelmingly by the voters in 2008, but a court's recent ruling, that patient-to-patient pot sales are now illegal, has thrown a wrench into things.
Carrying signs and shouting chants in solidarity, "Whose house? Our house! Show me what democracy is made of!" rang loudly around the state capitol grounds on Wednesday afternoon. Many of those gathered, wanted the right to safe access of their medication.
"[I want to see] an amendment to our bill for dispensaries and safe access. I'd like to see it taxed and regulated in the community and us not treated like criminals," said Marcus Gee, a medical marijuana user.
Many there were protesting the recent state ruling that shutdown dispensaries and they urged people to organize, in an effort to recall lawmakers like Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette and Governor Rick Snyder, for infringing on their rights.
"Most legislators are not very educated on this issue and I think they're reacting to this emotionally rather than [from] science or fact," said Brandy Zink, an ambassador for "Americans For Safe Access," one of the co-organizers of the rally.
Many at the rally told News Ten that they just want justice for those who are sick and suffering from a range of ailments, but there are some who question the legitimacy of their needs.
"I feel that many of those people are using it for recreational purposes," said Republican Senator Rick Jones of Grand Ledge.
Jones said he walked through the crowd of medical marijuana supporters and it was his opinion that:
"These weren't all patients. These were many healthy people who want to use marijuana."
There were those who admitted to just wanting to legalize the drug across the board, but others who say if it wasn't for pot, their pain would be unbearable.
"I get the medicine through brownies, peanut butter or any form of eating it," said Rick Haines, a military veteran who says he suffers from chronic pain making it hard to sleep and function during the day. "It works for me.... it checks my pain."
But Jones and many others believe the law needs tighter restrictions including a more defined doctor-patient relationship and a more thorough process for obtaining a license.
"We've had card mills spring up with doctors that come in from out of town and write a lot of prescriptions and people are getting cards for minor aches and pains," said Jones.
He has sponsored legislation that he believes would help clarify the law. But Zink said the medical marijuana community needs to be involved in any process that re-defines the Act.
"Let us create a regulatory system for dispensaries where we know exactly what is allowed so they can have access without fear," said Zink.
Several medical marijuana bills in the state legislature will likely appear on the fall schedule.