Pot fo­rum

The Detroit News - - Front Page - Joost­ing@de­troit­news.com

Evan Space, a long-shot Re­pub­li­can from Lans­ing and mil­i­tary vet­eran, said he wants to pro­vide bet­ter ac­cess to vet­er­ans suf­fer­ing from post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der. Shri Thanedar, an Ann Ar­bor Demo­crat and sci­en­tist, said sci­ence sup­ports le­gal­iza­tion. Bill Cobbs, a for­mer De­troit po­lice of­fi­cer, said has been a fail­ure.

“Most cops don’t want to ar­rest peo­ple for mar­i­juana be­cause we un­der­stand what it does to some­body’s life when we give them a crim­i­nal record this in­signif­i­cant,” Cobbs said.

MI Le­gal­ize leader Jeff Hank said fo­rum par­tic­i­pa­tion by five gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­dates is ev­i­dence of “a cul­tural change we’re un­der­go­ing here” in Michi­gan and told ac­tivists the event made

pro­hi­bi­tion him emo­tional.

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Bill Schuette, the early fa­vorite for the 2018 GOP gu­ber­na­to­rial nom­i­na­tion, led the cam­paign against Michi­gan’s med­i­cal mar­i­juana law in 2008 but has dis­tanced him­self from the more re­cent le­gal­iza­tion de­bate. Schuette has said he is con­cerned le­gal­iza­tion could in­crease youth ac­cess to mar­i­juana but has re­peat­edly called it an is­sue that vot­ers should de­cide.

Po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates are tak­ing note of pub­lic opin­ion polling show­ing grow­ing sup­port for mar­i­juana le­gal­iza­tion in Michi­gan, said MI Le­gal­ize po­lit­i­cal or­ga­nizer Sam Per­nick, pre­dict­ing the 2018 bal­lot mea­sure could en­cour­age first-time or rare vot­ers to go to the polls.

Per­nick said fo­rum or­ga­niz­ers tried to iden­tify can­di­dates sup­port­ing le­gal­iza­tion but also in­vited Schuette to the event. While he did not re­spond, Schuette was re­peat­edly men­tioned, with Whit­mer of East Lans­ing ar­gu­ing the at­tor­ney gen­eral has “thrown up bar­rier af­ter bar­rier” be­tween med­i­cal mar­i­juana pa­tients and their medicine.

“This is an op­por­tu­nity to go a step fur­ther and say, here in Mi- chi­gan, we’re go­ing to em­brace the le­gal­iza­tion, but we’re also go­ing to grow our econ­omy,” Whit­mer said. “We’re go­ing to cre­ate real clear rules so that we can do this so that we don’t leave pa­tients, we don’t leave small busi­ness own­ers to fend for them­selves.”

Thanedar, a busi­ness­man who is largely self-fund­ing his cam­paign, ar­gued the next gov­er­nor needs to make sure “big busi­ness doesn’t hi­jack” the prospec­tive le- gal mar­i­juana in­dus­try.

“We’ve got to make sure we sup­port the small busi­nesses, we sup­port the en­trepreneurs and we fight any kind of at­tempt by the fed­eral govern­ment to take away peo­ple’s rights,” he said.

While mar­i­juana re­mains il­le­gal at the fed­eral level, vot­ers in eight states have ap­proved recre­ational use laws.

Un­der the po­ten­tial Michi­gan bal­lot pro­posal, mar­i­juana re­tail sales would be taxed at 10 per- cent, plus sales tax, with the new rev­enue go­ing to K-12 schools, road re­pairs and par­tic­i­pat­ing cities and coun­ties.

Space noted the would also le­gal­ize hemp farm­ing.

“Let’s turn it into an agri­cul­tural boom,” he said. “Michi­gan al­ready grows corn. Why not turn our state greener and im­prove our en­vi­ron­ment?”

pro­posal in­dus­trial

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