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Medical Marijuana Becomes Mainstream

Michigan’s medical marijuana community proves they are just like other service organizations. Sometimes, they are even better.

What happens when mainstream meets new wave?

Things change, paradigms shift, and society is better, improved, more in touch and involved.

The medical marijuana community is that new wave that is rolling into, and changing, our definition of mainstream. Case in point: The Annual Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk 2012.

The Mackinac Bridge connects Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. It’s a man-made wonder, 5 miles long that spans the connecting point between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, and every year on Labor Day the Governor leads thousands of people as they walk across the bridge. This is the only day pedestrians are allowed to walk on the structure so groups, organizations and companies gather their people and make a big day of it.

Medical marijuana is mainstream, and we look like it. Fifty fluorescent green shirts walked the bridge on Labor Day, each one covering a medical marijuana patient, caregiver or supporter. We walked next to church groups with their blue shirts; we pushed a wheelchair-bound patient over the bridge alongside pink-shirted breast cancer fighters; we laughed with white-shirted corporate types and gave high-fives to camouflaged National Guardsmen stationed along the arching roadway. We were as one with the masses of smiling, happy humanity. We were mainstream, accepted as equals.

Medical marijuana is mainstream, with an eye to civic responsibilities. Labor Day is time for the annual Telethon for muscular dystrophy. Each year the MDA locks people up in mock jail to raise funds. MedJoint owner Kevin Spitler raised the most money in the Kalamazoo area this year and went on television to present an oversized check to the MDA officials during the Telethon. Medical marijuana outraised the Elks, the Lions, the Eagles and the Optimists.

I wish Jerry Lewis had stayed involved with the Telethon long enough to see the day his organization would get a shot in the arm from a group of sick people, because I think he would have loved it. MedJoint has donated two tons of food to the local Loaves and Fishes Food Bank, proving again that medical marijuana supporters are interested in helping others more than they are interested in asking for help.

Medical marijuana is mainstream, in the election cycle. Labor Day in an election year also signals an escalation of campaign ads, reminding us that our vote is equal among citizens and is valuable to all parties. This year medical marijuana is on the ballot is four Michigan cities, just like funding for the Arts and electing House Representatives. Kalamazoo will authorize dispensaries in November, while Flint and Detroit will decriminalize possession of cannabis by any adult on private property. Ypsilanti will tell their police force that enforcing anti-marijuana laws will be their Lowest Law Enforcement Priority after November’s vote, just like K-zoo did last year.

Medical marijuana is mainstream, politically. Election year campaigning means the mainstream parties hold fundraisers for their candidates. The medical marijuana community held fundraisers this year for Rep. Mike Callton’s Political Action Committee (PAC), raising nearly $50,000. More fundraisers are planned for Callton’s PAC and cannabis law reform supporters like Rep. Jeff Irwin of Ann Arbor. Money has been raised in Kalamazoo, Flint, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Detroit- the list goes on and on. September of 2011 saw 3,000 medical marijuana supporters flood the Capital Building in a giant protest that onlookers said was larger than many Labor demonstrations held on the very same grounds. When you can out-draw the labor unions, you are powerful.

Medical marijuana is mainstream, and like other groups we have our celebrities. Authors like myself, MINORML Executive Director Matthew Abel, 2012 High Times Detroit Cannabis Cup Girl of the Year Emily Aryn, co-founder of the state’s oldest dispensary Jamie Lowell, event coordinator and legendary activist Brad Forrester- all were all there. Mr. Lowell, Mr. Abel, myself and fellow activist Tim Beck are frequently quoted in mainstream newspapers on issues of civil rights and drug law reform. The traditional media gets their information from us, which means we shape the definition of mainstream with every interview and photo published.

Medical Marijuana is mainstream, and we communicate better than other groups do. There are five radio programs broadcast in Michigan weekly whose primary focus is medical marijuana and drug law reform, including the Medical Marijuana Radio Show I co-host on 1310 AM WDTW. There are four publications issued monthly in Michigan that service the medical marijuana community and are distributed state-wide. Every one of them is free; if you see the MMM Report or the Cultivator, pick one up. Read about us. You’ll find that we are just like you, only more bold.

Medical marijuana is mainstream, and we contribute to the government better than most other groups do. It costs $100 per year for most folks to be registered as a patient with the State, and we have 200,000 participants. Do the math. Now consider the licensing fees paid by dispensaries to cities like Ypsilanti, Burton and Traverse City, then add the payroll taxes on wages earned by employees of cannabusinesses in both peninsulas. Lawyers, doctors, carpenters, landlords, small businessmen, gas stations and restaurants- all receive the benefits of a mainstream medical marijuana community that is active and growing in all of Michigan’s 82 counties simultaneously.

Medical marijuana is mainstream, nationally. Never has a state been given the option of fully legalizing marijuana for their citizens. Never. This year, three states will offer that choice to voters, not because their state governments are benevolent and wise but because the people demanded it. Four more states will vote in November to expand or adopt legalized medical cannabis for their citizens, too. Polls conducted across the nation show that legalization of marijuana has risen to above 50% public acceptance- medical marijuana regularly polls at around 80% acceptance nationally- and that makes us more popular than country music. More popular than the President. Medical Marijuana Is More Popular Than Chocolate Ice Cream! What could be more pop culture than that. 

Medical marijuana is mainstream, and if you aren’t in the stream of things you’re being left behind on the old, dead river banks. Our community accomplished all of the above without government bailouts, without tax abatements, without SBA loans or Kickstarter funds or even acceptance from local officials. Some of us even accomplish these feats while facing investigations or criminal charges from the very same government we seek to bolster and improve. Medical marijuana is mainstream, and like the flow of a river you cannot stop the water no matter how hard you try.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Rick Thompson September 05, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Thanks for carrying this blog post. The Bridge Walk was fantastic- everyone should do it at least once in their lives! The message here is one of unification and growth. As the Melting Pot of the world, America is open to all nationalities and religions and we view them as equals. Medical Marijuana patients are citizens, they are taxpayers and they vote. We are you.
Rick Thompson September 05, 2012 at 06:27 PM
By the way, I'd like to report an error. MedJoint has raised THREE tons of food for the Loaves and Fishes, not the mere two tons I wrote. Congrats to Kevin and Trena for their ongoing contribution to the Kalamazoo community at large.
David Justice September 06, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Great article, and great causes, we the people in the state of Michigan have spoken now if they can just leave us alone and treat us with respect were all good.
Racer Boy September 06, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Who does this group think they are kidding? Dope smokers rejoice under the guise of "Medical Marijuana". Does anyone actually believe that the majority of these dopers are in need of real medical relief? Certainly a good thing for some but, to expect us to accept that everyone of these people have legitimate medcal needs is ridiculous.
Gillian Talwar September 06, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Great article Rick. I support decriminalization of marijuana and an end to the 'war on drugs' which has been successful only in filling our prisons at taxpayer expense, devastating targeted communities and promoting violence and corruption along the supply chain.
Lilly September 06, 2012 at 05:05 PM
FINALLY ..Yes the people voted for it but big companies would rather have ya doped up on Xanax and dangerous drugs cause they just LOVE THE MONEY.
Lilly September 06, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Well said ..it is sickening that pot smokers are in jail yet people with 3-6 DRUNK DRIVING are still driving drunk like the guy last week who killed someone while he was drivin DRUNK ! And it was his 6TH OFFENCE .. What kind of logic is that ?! Oh ya MONEY MAKER .. Well this is atleast a start. Stand for your beliefs.
David Justice September 06, 2012 at 06:48 PM
For Racer Boy I can only hope something does not happen to your health that Medical Marijuana would be a requirement. For some people its a matter of personal choice on how to treat there pain instead of drugs pushed by the doctors and pharmaceutical companies. For the person who suffer for cerbal palsey etc and shakes uncontrollably without Medical Marijuana NOBODY has the right to tell that person how to treat his condition. Quality of life is based on everyone's person needs and choices. Putting tens of thousands of teens in jail every year DOES NOT WORK, and only makes these normal kids experimenting as we all did marked for life. As us parents head to the bar to down some drinks??? I do NOT have the right to tell you racer boy how to live your life and how to treat your personal issue's as you do NOT have the right to judge others who choose how to treat their pain or live their lives.
leahtollini September 07, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Racer Boy smoke a joint and chill out
Lilly September 07, 2012 at 10:10 PM
good one ..420
Dale Murrish September 12, 2012 at 01:25 AM
Medical marijuana may be mainstream, but making a mind-altering, chromosome damaging substance legal would be a mistake. We don’t need another vice. Just because MINORML is doing the Mackinac Bridge walk with other more wholesome groups doesn’t make your cause OK. When most Michiganders agreed to legalize it for medical use, they were sold a pain-killing remedy; many thought people would be getting prescriptions from health providers for the active ingredient in a pill. Now it has spawned a cottage industry for growing pot like California and marijuana is defacto legalized. The logic used to support this is sketchy at best. We need reform of the existing law to limit use to people with chronic pain and prevent them from driving while under the influence, not expansion to make it completely legal. We don’t need more impaired drivers on the road and more people zoned out on pot. Sorry, but America has enough vices already and needs everyone doing their best. If it comes to a vote on a ballot proposal, I will be voting no and doing my best to persuade others to do the same. Not on my watch.
Daffy Noodnicks September 12, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Dale: More of your moralistic nonsense based on poor understanding. Lots of medications are "mind altering". And, who are you to decide what is "wholesome". Save me from what Dale's opinion of whole might be! Not on my watch will I be subjected to that!
Lianne Mathie September 12, 2012 at 02:30 AM
Dale, I never like to speak out on these type's of things, but I think your view is limited and narrow. I know many seniors that prefer medical marijuana to legal prescription drugs. They do not have the side effects or doctors office/prescription costs associated with legalized medications. They are NOT smoking , they are eating , what they need to ease the pain.These people are NOT of child bearing age. They simply do not want all the side effects, doctors visits that prescriptions require. Please, look in to this more closely. Thank you
John David September 12, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Dale, we already have state laws that address driving while impaired. We don't need more laws covering the same thing. Didn't you recently comment about distracted driving, that we don't need more distracted driving laws since the state has them? The current law covers impairment, whether it's caused by alcohol or drugs, illegal or some legal. Marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug and it is illegal to drive under its influence even when used medicnally. So medical marijuana and driving are already covered. Even if marijuana was fully legalized, current law covers driving while impaired. So why be so concerned when there is an existing state law?
Lynn Hodorek September 12, 2012 at 03:42 AM
I challenge you to provide ONE piece of evidence that suggests marijuana is chromosome-damaging. You know what DOES damage chromosomes? Sunlight. I guess no one should go outside anymore. MAKE THE SUN ILLEGAL, GUYS.
Brian Smith September 12, 2012 at 04:30 AM
There are no pain relieving compounds in cannabis, no matter how it's ingested. But, there are hundreds of poisonous and/or carcinogenic compounds in inhaled marijuana smoke, and it does stimulate human appetite. So, get high, walk your newly formed tumors to Taco Bell and get obese...Then stagger over to Rite Aid because anyone who falls for the legitimization of getting stoned under the guise of medicine should probably get their thorazine refilled anyhow...
live_strong September 12, 2012 at 12:02 PM
It has been proven beyond any doubt that mj causes dna damage, cancer, and rots brain cells. So go ahead and be in denial about the truth if you dare. I just hope the psychotic paranoia you feel creeping up on you doesn't ruin your buzz.
Lianne Mathie September 12, 2012 at 12:31 PM
Conclusion: A single inhalation of 25 mg of 9.4% tetrahydrocannabinol herbal cannabis three times daily for five days reduced the intensity of pain, improved sleep and was well tolerated. Further long-term safety and efficacy studies are indicated. (International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Register no. ISRCTN68314063) Good thing your not a doctor, and a angry doctor at that.Bite a towel Brian.
Sammy V. September 12, 2012 at 03:50 PM
FACT: At least 3 MILLION Michigan citizens qualify for medical marijuana. FACT: Over 100 million Americans live with CHRONIC PAIN. FACT: 4 MILLION Americans have seizure disorders. FACT: 10 MILLION have cancer. FACT: More than 40% of us will get cancer in our lifetimes. FACT: Prescription painkillers kill more people than CRACK and SMACK combined. In fact, pills kill nearly TWICE as many people as crack and heroin combined. FACT: Racer Boy, you have no idea how dangerous pharmaceuticals are for the human body. FACT: Every year, between 2 MILLION and 4 MILLION Americans suffer "serious", "disabling" or "fatal" reactions to synthetic pharmaceuticals. Every year, 100,000 Americans are killed from reactions to modern medicine. FACT: Between 40,000 and 60,000 Michigan citizens suffer serious, disabling or fatal adverse drug reactions each and every year. Have you had a family member go into cardiac arrest after taking commonly prescribed medication? I have. And by the grace of God and the skill of the ER doctors said relative was successfully resuscitated. FACT: Only in Michigan are American citizens forbidden from suing Pharmaceutical companies when they suffer Adverse Drug Reactions. So when Phil Mickelson's arthritis pills give Michigan citizens cancer its on the sick person to foot the bills. FACT: Racer Boy doesn't understand liberty. FACT: Personal autonomy = freedom to use the medicine of your choice.
Sammy V. September 12, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Dale, you sound like a typical hypocritical Tea Bagger. You support the Bill of Rights and Freedom, but not personal autonomy. You hate big Government but demand the Feds dictate our lives to us. In Dale's America, you are free to do what his ilk tells you to do. Dale, you would have defended the Salem Witch Trials 400 years ago.
Lilly September 12, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Good one Sammy ..I also know a woman who ended up in a wheel chair because of what the many drugs did to her that the DR prescribed her. I have lots of horror stories but this is just one of many. Done on here cause people don't have a clue and don't want to either.
Jen Anesi September 12, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Three comments were removed for violating our Terms of Use (http://troy.patch.com/terms).
Sammy V. September 12, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Hey Live_Strong, cannabis does not cause cancer. Steroids do, though.
Lilly September 12, 2012 at 05:05 PM
what a joke ..now they remove comments ? then why bother even commenting. Some comments can stay and others can't ? pfttt good bye
Barry Dingles September 12, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Sammy V. Stop with the Tea Bagger derogitory crap, really, its old, grow up, get over it. If you have a point to make, make it without using derogitory epitaphs. You know it, everybody else knows. Keep testicals out of the conversation.

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