By Rick Thompson
41 years ago or so a fellow named John Sinclair was arrested for two marijuana joints. These arrests are still happening in Michigan. That action prompted artists, activists and ordinary citizens to rally in support of the convicted; the Michigan Supreme Court changed the law, Sinclair was released, and the rest is, as they say, history.
Fast forward to April, 2012. 41 years later and we’re still having lives ruined over a single marijuana cigarette. Cannabis is so prevalent in today’s society that every socioeconomic group, every religion, race, creed and profession consume marijuana. Some of Michigan’s Senators and House Representatives, the Attorney General, and well-positioned law enforcement personnel have admitted to being current or former cannabis consumers. Lions, Tigers, Wolverines and Spartans have been jammed up for possessing or using cannabis- even though there was no diminished performance, no associated crime, no risk to society or anyone other than themselves. 41 years after Sinclair’s arrest, it’s time to rethink this failed legal policy.
I am a son of Flint. My elementary school is closed, my high school is closed, half of my junior high school is closed- the other half was ripped down. The road my town has taken from the 60’s to today has been filled with dead ends, potholes and construction signs. Corporate exits, human exodus, economic downturn, crack- you can name the cause and you’d be right. The one thing you cannot say about Flint is that marijuana killed this city. It didn’t. It doesn’t have the power to.
Of all the troubles we could focus attention on, marijuana is the least destructive. Remember that Sinclair guy? He’ll be speaking at this year’s Hash Bash. 41 years later and he’s still going like that battery-powered rabbit on TV. If cannabis is such a threat to our bodies and our cities, where is the proof? There isn’t any. Pardon the pun, but pot is just a smokescreen concealing the real parties responsible for society’s ills.
Who are those responsible parties? That’s an issue larger than the size of this blog column. What we can say is there are people today being placed in educational, financial and societal jeopardy because of the perpetuated illegality of a plant. If you need proof, pick up any newspaper from this last week. Any Michigan paper from any day.
Lions running back Mikel Leshoure failed to report for a court date in northern Lower Peninsula’s Berrien County regarding a marijuana possession charge. Charles Rogers, a former Spartan and Lion, has multiple charges pending against him including a marijuana offense. Current Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley was arrested in Alabama on Tuesday for possession of marijuana. Derrick Nix of the Spartan basketball team has been suspended indefinitely for possession of marijuana. None of these issues involve violence, danger to others, theft, or mistreatment of women or children.
Look at the opposite example. Former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf is now addicted to pills and has taken to stealing things from his friends in order to support his habit. Leaf was arrested and posted a $76,000 bond on a charge of burglary and theft of oxycodone from an acquaintance last Friday March 30 and was promptly arrested again on Monday April 2nd for doing the exact same thing. On Sunday two Great Falls, Montana homeowners found Leaf in their home, unauthorized, and after his exit they discovered three bottles of pills missing. During his Monday arrest, 89 hydrocodone pills were discovered floating loose in the pocket of his bathrobe.
This Saturday’s Hash Bash will feature Sinclair but also Steven DeAngelo. DeAngelo has achieved fame through his television series “Weed Wars” and as the leader of the world’s largest dispensary, California’s Harborside. Being the largest sometimes get you the wrong kind of attention: Harborside just paid the IRS a reported $2 million in back taxes over a dispute between state law and federal rules. This week the IRS and DEA raided a California college- Oaksterdam University- and many believe they are looking to give them the Harborside treatment.
Being successful in politics, in business, in education or in sports will not exempt you from being a victim of the DEA disinformation campaign. It will cost people their scholarships, their endorsement deals, their livelihoods and their freedom just to maintain the illusion that marijuana deserves to be a Schedule 1 drug. Redirecting attention from enforcing outdated cannabis laws to preventing and solving violent crimes is the reason behind the Committee for a Safer Michigan’s effort to legalize marijuana in Michigan. Government is not a self-correcting machine. Society has called for a change; we activists are the tools through which that change takes place.
For more information about the effort to legalize cannabis in Michigan,please visit: