Though medicinal marijuana in the state was made legal in 2008, the issue is still causing problems for patients who have a prescription for the drug. On Aug. 25, 16 Michigan residents were arrested in Oakland County and charged with violating the state’s medical marijuana act. This is yet another example of the negative consequences of the state’s still-ambiguous medicinal marijuana law. This law should be revised so that patients who have been prescribed marijuana have an easy and clear way to access the drug that they need. To further ease the stigma related to use of the drug, the Michigan legislature should simply completely legalize the recreational use of marijuana.
The Oakland County Sheriff’s Narcotics Enforcement Team made the arrests following raids at medical marijuana facilities in Ferndale and Waterford. 16 people who were arrested were charged in violation of the medical marijuana act. According to an Oct. 7 report by the Detroit Free Press, Oakland County Sherriff Michael Bouchard claims that drug abuse and dealing was discovered at the sites by undercover police officers, which prompted the raids. On Oct. 7, there was a hearing in Waterford to establish dates for upcoming hearings in November for 10 of the defendants. According to an Oct. 8 article in The Detroit News, hundreds of people gathered outside of a Waterford District Court building to protest the charges against the individuals.
One of the biggest areas of contention is the compassion club targeted in the Waterford raid. Compassion clubs are areas in which medical marijuana patients can interact while they use the drug. Bouchard has argued compassion clubs are illegal. But the members of the compassion club who were arrested were in adherence with reasonable interpretations of the medicinal marijuana law. In any other circumstance, there would be no problem with people using a prescription drug in the presence of others or groups of people all using a properly prescribed drug. And medical marijuana is a legal drug. The state legislature should clean up this vague, contradictory law.
The failure of the medical marijuana legislation lies in part in the seeming unwillingness of law enforcement to look at it as a legal prescription drug. Many prescription drugs — and some legal drugs, like alcohol — can be abused. Yet, these drugs are generally granted acceptance by law enforcement and the public. The Michigan legislature needs to revise the law so that it isn’t subject to the interpretation of potentially biased law enforcement officials.
Another, more easy way to solve the problems with current medical marijuana laws would be to completely legalize marijuana for recreational use. Beside the fact that legalizing recreational marijuana use could help to create a new industry in the state and aid the economy, the use of marijuana use is a victimless crime. Like alcohol, marijuana is only dangerous when residents don’t follow precautionary laws and choose to drive under the influence.
Current medical marijuana laws are incomplete and have led to injustice. The state must now take action to repair the laws. But to allow citizens to exercise their personal freedoms, the use of recreational marijuana should be legalized.