Two men have announced their candidacy for US Congress at an event sponsored by members of Michigan's marijuana law reform community.
Michigan Senator Vincent Gregory, who currently represents a district covering much of southern Oakland County, has declared himself a candidate to fill the position held by US Rep. Gary Peters. Peters has announced he will not seek reelection for that office, having set his sights on a US Senate spot. Peters' 14th District encompasses a great portion of Detroit and much of Oakland County.
The district historically votes Democratic, making that party's nominee a virtual lock for the Representative's seat. In addition to half of Detroit, that district encompasses Pontiac, West Bloomfield, Southfield and the Grosse Pointes.
George Brikho is running as a Republican in the US 9th District. That seat is currently occupied by Democrat Sander Levin, who will seek reelection to the position. Brikho is an Oakland County businessman and longtime resident of the area. Brikho told The Compassion Chronicles that, "All the other contenders for the Republican nomination have dropped out of the race," making him the lone candidate and essentially assuring that he will receive that party's nomination to run for that seat in 2014.
The 9th District includes the lower half of Macomb County, including Warren, Sterling Heights and Chesterfield Township; Oakland County communities Ferndale, Madison Heights, Berkley and many of the townships south of Pontiac.
The event was held at the Detroit law offices of Cannabis Counsel. Attorneys Matthew Abel and Thomas Lavigne of that firm were present for the gathering, and Abel gave a wonderful summary of Gregory's accomplishments and history. Brikho was introduced by myself, acting as the event's emcee.
Although both men are supporters of marijuana law reform neither of them are making the issue a central focus of their election campaigns. Brikho owns a chain of indoor gardening supply stores; Gregory has voted to support common-sense reforms to the drug war for years.
"We will be doing more of these events," to support candidates that publicly state a positive position on cannabis, said event co-organizer Greg Pawlowski of Detroit. That sentiment was echoed by fellow event coordinator Prof. Michael Whitty of Birmingham. "Now, more than ever, we need champions in the legislature," he told the crowd of attendees.
That crowd included lawyers from the ACLU; Jamie Lowell, co-founder and managing partner in the oldest dispensary east of the Mississippi River; Tim Beck, leader of the Safer Michigan Coalition and the person responsible for initiating the successful passage of Proposal M in Detroit; members of the Board of Directors of Michigan NORML and the state chapter of Americans for Safe Access; and many patients, caregivers and supporters of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Program.
Attendees were encouraged to contact their State Senators to support the passage of two bills that were approved by Michigan's House of Representatives at the end of 2013. One of those bills would establish protections for, and local control of, medical marijuana dispensaries in Michigan; the other creates definitions of usable marijuana that would include concentrated and extracted forms of cannabis. Those forms of medicine had been used by registered Michigan patients for five years until a 2013 court ruling challenged their legality.