Medical marijuana patient Winston Elam believes people with chronic pain shouldn't have to worry about safe access to pot.
That's why Elam, who is wheelchair-bound from a spinal injury, attended Saturday's ExtravaGanja in Chesterfield Township to show support for the Medical Marihuana Act and socialize with other patients.
Clad in a "Vote Green" T-shirt, Elam says he spent thousands of dollars using prescription narcotics to alleviate pain but finally turned to medical pot after the MMA was passed by voters in 2008. He gets his medical pot from Big Daddy's dispensary, formerly of Chesterfield, at its Mack Avenue location in Detroit.
If it wasn't for the business, he says, he would be forced to get untrusted marijuana off the street.
"I don't like dealing with criminals," he says.
ExtravaGanja Moves to Chesterfield
The third-annual ExtravaGanja relocated from Imlay City to the Chesterfield Lions Club on Gratiot next to the vacated Big Daddy's Hydroponics' building. The event, which anticipated a crowd of 300-400 people, featured vendors selling anything from food to marijuana-smoking accessories and a tent for card-holding patients to smoke. Several speakers were lined up to talk about medical marijuana, including Macomb and Oakland county candidates for public office.
Scheduled speaker Mike Wrathell, who is running for prosecutor in Macomb County, said he supports the MMA and qualified physicians decision to prescribe it.
"Outright prohibition is fueling gangs throughout North America. It is time to listen to the will of the people and let them vote on this matter and respect their will. I do believe we need to monitor growers to make sure the marijuana they grow is natural and not artificially strong, for if marijuana is too strong it will create a generation of zombies. Like I said, there is a happy medium to be found," Wrathell later stated in an email.
Big Daddy's owner Rick Ferris said the event also aimed to inform the public about proposed Bill 5580 that would regulate and recognize dispensaries in Michigan.
"5580 will allow the cities to regulate dispensaries," Ferris said at ExtravaGanja. "It's also giving safe access to patients."
Municipalities across Michigan have been torn over dispensaries with many citing confusion over MMA interpretation that often plays out in court.
Big Daddy's hopeful about New Baltimore
Last week, a frustrated New Baltimore City Council voted to extend a medical marijuana cultivating moratorium again. Council and planning officials have been unable to agree on whether to allow residential growth in the city, but are on board with industrial cultivation.
Their discussions come at a time when Big Daddy's plans to set up in a vacant building near the police station. The business was embroiled in a lengthy court battle with Chesterfield and the Michigan Attorney General's Office, ultimately ending in Big Daddy's admitting zoning violations and closing in the township.
"Everywhere we go, people think that we're going to be a problem and we're not," Ferris said, adding that his business maintains a positive relationship with former neighbor, the Chesterfield Lions Club.
Chesterfield officials and police maintained that the business was a public nuisance that could jeopardize public safety.
But Ferris says he thinks the move to New Baltimore will meet less resistance because some members on council are medical marijuana proponents.
"The difference between New Baltimore (and Chesterfield), there's half of them that feel that there should be safe access and there's half of them that feel like there shouldn't," he said.
When the notion of whether council should even enact a medical marijuana cultivation ordinance came up at the last meeting, city attorney Tim Tomlinson said of the MMA, "It's a terrible law from the standpoint that it doesn't give anybody any guidance...We're going to be dealing with a moving target here."