.

Marijuana community helps launch two US Congressional candidates

Candidate for US Congress George Brikho
Candidate for US Congress George Brikho

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.

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 January 11, 2014 at 01:46 PM
These are two great men looking to do good things for the people of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties. They deserve our full consideration- and support!
ernesto January 12, 2014 at 10:51 PM
Yea they want to sell us Dope
Rick Thompson January 13, 2014 at 10:44 AM
No, they want to become US Congressmen. Neither of these gentlemen is involved in the distribution of cannabis. Read the article before posting so you seem informed on the subject, please.
kidcat24 January 13, 2014 at 03:58 PM
Chesterfield is not part of the 9th district.
kidcat24 January 13, 2014 at 04:02 PM
George Brikho is Libertarian, isn't he?
Rick Thompson January 13, 2014 at 08:05 PM
Mr. Brikho is running as a Republican. Also, the comment on Chesterfield Township is correct- it is just outside the 9th District on the map. Some of the C-field Township zip codes are a part of the covered area, though.
Dale Murrish January 13, 2014 at 09:44 PM
Sounds to me like Mr. Brikho has a conflict of interest. His indoor gardening stores probably sell lights to grow pot...
Dale Murrish January 13, 2014 at 09:45 PM
Do you ever write about anything but legalizing an illegal drug, Rick?
Rick Thompson January 14, 2014 at 08:21 AM
Dale- Sounds like you have a lack of knowledge. Owning an indoor gardening store doesn't make you ineligible for public office any more than owning a convenience store makes you responsible for drunk driving fatalities. Think about it.
Rick Thompson January 14, 2014 at 08:23 AM
Dale, your comment about illegal drugs is very uinformed. Here's Michigan law 333.26422: Sec. 2. The people of the State of Michigan find and declare that: (a) Modern medical research, including as found by the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine in a March 1999 report, has discovered beneficial uses for marihuana in treating or alleviating the pain, nausea, and other symptoms associated with a variety of debilitating medical conditions. (b) Data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports and the Compendium of Federal Justice Statistics show that approximately 99 out of every 100 marihuana arrests in the United States are made under state law, rather than under federal law. Consequently, changing state law will have the practical effect of protecting from arrest the vast majority of seriously ill people who have a medical need to use marihuana. (c) Although federal law currently prohibits any use of marihuana except under very limited circumstances, states are not required to enforce federal law or prosecute people for engaging in activities prohibited by federal law. The laws of Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Washington do not penalize the medical use and cultivation of marihuana. Michigan joins in this effort for the health and welfare of its citizens.
Rick Thompson January 14, 2014 at 08:25 AM
So Dale, as you can see, marijuana is not an illegal drug for those who have a state-issued license to possess and grow it. Michigan is one of 20 states that empower their people to do this; ask any police officer and he'll tell you the same.
kidcat24 January 14, 2014 at 02:22 PM
Okay, thanks for the information Rick. Is the 48051 zip code in the 9th district?
Rick Thompson January 14, 2014 at 02:36 PM
48051 is the 10th District, currently represented by Debbie Stabenow.
Dale Murrish January 14, 2014 at 06:04 PM
Rick, I’ve got no issue with medical marijuana. It’s useful for treating glaucoma etc.
Dale Murrish January 14, 2014 at 06:05 PM
It’s the recreational pot smokers who are climbing on the bandwagon with all their arguments (it’s no worse than alcohol, etc.) The loopholes in Michigan’s MM law are big enough to drive a pickup truck with weed through, and I think you know it. You are far more an expert on MJ law than I am. My opinion is we have enough vices in America already without adding another one.
Rick Thompson January 14, 2014 at 06:15 PM
Dale, I'm glad you commented. Here's my answer: 1. marijuana is already here and has been for decades. It is so integrated into our 2014 society that the billions of dollars spent on the drug war has not been able to stop it. 2. all the profits- and all the control- have rested in the hands of the black market, until 2008. Ypsilanti has been licensing and controlling marijuana distribution since 2009; they make a profit from it, and the city police chief will tell you that crime related to marijuana is almost zero now. You see, Dale, we aren't adding a vice: it's already there. We are just taking control of an industry away from black market operators. I'm sure you would be in favor of that.
Dale Murrish January 15, 2014 at 06:07 PM
When you legalize a particular behavior, you get more of it, Rick. I’m opposed to recreational MJ use, just as I oppose the further expansion of gambling, a cancer that has spread across America. Casinos have become legitimate businesses, although they cannibalize neighboring restaurants with their business model as they soak up discretionary income and the pension checks of gambling addicts. Government lotteries are a shell game that further undermines the American work ethic.
Dale Murrish January 15, 2014 at 06:07 PM
America needs everyone doing their best, not zoned out on pot or addicted to it. I understand the arguments and the amount of money spent on the drug war, but I’ll vote against legalization of recreational MJ use and further expansion of “canna-business.” I classify MJ use as a vice, not a virtue. Its recreational use should be discouraged, not encouraged as virtuous. It is far from harmless.
Rick Thompson January 15, 2014 at 09:20 PM
Dale, thank you for your comments and I hope that you'll continue to read my blog.
Dale Murrish January 16, 2014 at 05:53 PM
You’re welcome, Rick! I’ll check back from time to time. It’s a pleasure having a reasonable conversation with someone who disagrees with me (unlike some Troy readers). Always happy to learn more. Feel free to comment on my blog articles also. Here’s my latest travel article that got steered into the weeds by my political opponents: http://troy.patch.com/groups/dale-murrishs-blog/p/frankenmuth-michigan--giving-thanks

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