Integrity Lost: Part 2

An expose in the search for truth regarding the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, and the convoluted efforts to upend patient's rights

Posted In: Politics, State,   By: David Light

01st September, 2011     0

Part 2: Framing the issue

In one aspect related to new proposed legislation intended to eviscerate the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, a recent news article gives a taste of the dishonesty on the part of those who intend to persuade citizens of the need to fool with the MMMA’s language.

On August 18, 2011, state Representative John Walsh (R-Livonia), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, stated in the media that he believes the state needs to crack down on dispensaries, particularly on one stretch of road near the state's Capitol. Walsh was quoted in that article as saying, "I don't think anyone who voted for the law intended for there to be 83 dispensaries on one of the main roads in Ingham County."

Actually, on the street in Lansing t that Rep. Walsh referred to, Michigan Avenue, there were only 10 hybrid medical cannabis facilities prior to the recent Michigan Court of Appeals ruling. Tim Beck, cannabis law reform activist and co-founder of Coalition for a Safer Michigan, responded, “[these] facilities are visible for all to see. They have replaced vacant and underutilized properties on a main street in our state capital.”

So much for our leaders embracing desperately-needed new businesses, or having a sincere willingness to address the issue of blight that plagues neighborhoods across Michigan. Possessing such unique skills, perhaps Rep. Walsh should instead take further control of our state’s budget. With his uncanny ability to turn 10 such facilities into 83, he may indeed be able to turn our state budget shortfall into a budget surplus as well.

In this same article, Dr. Steven Newman, a neurologist in Southfield and president of the Michigan State Medical Society, who appeared with Walsh and Attorney General Bill Schuette to announce the introduction of the 8-Bill package, said that “the [Medical] society's mission is to promote good health, and preserve the quality and ethics in medical practices.”

In response to Dr. Newman’s statement, Charmie Gholson, Editor of The Midwest Cultivator and co-founder of Michigan Moms United to End the War on Drugs accurately stated, “Let me translate for you: ‘Preserve the quality and ethics in medical practices’ = to prevent alternative, traditional medicines (especially cannabis) from gaining enough support to challenge our narrow definition of medicine.”

As a long time member of the non-profit, government and medical industry watchdog group, Public Citizen, I find Dr. Newman’s comments laughable. No other industry that I’m aware of has proven to be as ethically-challenged as is the medical industry, being so heavily influenced by special interest money from pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers and employing paid lobbyists in unprecedented numbers, that every aspect of their business is controlled not by ethics, but by money – a LOT of it. It has proven to be the most glaring example of “pay-to-play” ever witnessed not only in this country, but across the globe.

Additionally, a recent Detroit Free Press article, in which AG Schuette, flanked by lawmakers, police, prosecutors, and doctors, held a press conference in which he introduced this series of 8 bills to modify the MMMA and other Public Acts.

In amazing similarity, these people surrounding Schuette appear to be the same people and groups that surrounded him during his anti-Proposal 1 charade. What a coincidence.

Is it the duty of an Attorney General (an Executive position) to “push” legislation, and what are the specific duties of that office?

In an attempt to find the answer to those questions by researching the state’s website as well as the internet, and aside from a few specific duties being detailed, I found no complete outline defining the depth of those responsibilities. However, in turning to the Michigan Constitution, I did come across the following sections that I felt would be pertinent to these recent actions by our AG: (Emphasis added)

Michigan Constitution
ARTICLE III
General Government
§ 2 Separation of powers of government.
Sec. 2. The powers of government are divided into three branches: legislative, executive
and judicial. No person exercising powers of one branch shall exercise powers properly belonging to another branch except as expressly provided in this constitution.

History: Const. 1963, Art. III, §2, Eff. Jan. 1, 1964.
Former Constitution: See Const. 1908, Art. IV, §2.

ARTICLE V
Executive Branch
§ 8 Principal departments, supervision of governor;
information from state officers.

Sec. 8. Each principal department shall be under the supervision of the governor unless otherwise provided by this constitution. The governor shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed. He shall transact all necessary business with the officers of government and may require information in writing from all executive and administrative state officers, elective and appointive, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices.

Court enforcement of constitutional or legislative mandate.
The governor may initiate court proceedings in the name of the state to enforce compliance with any constitutional or legislative mandate, or to restrain violations of any constitutional or legislative power, duty or right by any officer, department or agency of the state
or any of its political subdivisions. This authority shall not be construed to
authorize court proceedings against the legislature.

History: Const. 1963, Art. V, §8, Eff. Jan. 1, 1964.
Former Constitution: See Const. 1908, Art. VI, §3.

§ 10 Removal or suspension of officers; grounds, report.

Sec. 10. The governor shall have power and it shall be his duty to inquire into
the condition and administration of any public office and the acts of any public
officer, elective or appointive.
He may remove or suspend from office for gross neglect of duty or for corrupt conduct
in office, or for any other misfeasance or malfeasance therein, any elective or
appointive state officer, except legislative or judicial, and shall report the
reasons for such removal or suspension to the legislature.

History: Const. 1963, Art. V, §10, Eff. Jan. 1, 1964.
Former Constitution: See Const. 1908, Art. IX, §7.

That’s a lot to chew on, isn’t it?

The routine behavior exhibited by Schuette in his obsession with the marijuana issue certainly could run afoul of Article 3, SS 2, and Article 5, SS 8 and 10 leaves no doubt as to the actions required of the Governor to address these situations.

A quote from the earlier referenced Detroit Free Press Article:

“Michigan’s medical marijuana law has been abused, exploited and hijacked by pot profiteers, said state Attorney General Bill Schüette in pushing a package of bills that will close loopholes in the law that was intended to provide pot to people with terminal, debilitating and chronic diseases.”

The allegation has been made on several occasions that the MMMA fails to address conflicting language in other statutes, such as the Public Health Code. This is a falsehood, and has been used as a means to bolster the negative image that opponents of the MMMA would like to portray.

Section 7, Subsection e) of the Act very clearly puts lie to those claims. It’s simple, but potent and all-encompassing:

7 e) All other acts and parts of acts inconsistent with this act do not apply to the medical use of marihuana as provided for by this act.

It doesn’t take genius to understand that statement, but it is apparently too difficult for some of our lawmakers to understand the significance of, or in truth, to accept.

Ironically, the majority of these proposals have been referred to their respective Judiciary committees for review. How convenient to both propose bills, and then forward them to the committee in which you either serve on or Chair, or that your co-sponsors serve on. No doubt they’ll get the assessment they are looking for. Where are the “checks and balances” that maintain the structural integrity of our system?

 

Next up Part 3: The Proposals

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