Opinion: Marijuana battle is not over
The advocates for legalizing recreational marijuana were successful in their effort to bring recreational marijuana to the communities of Michigan. In the spirit of good statesmanship, our committee offers congratulations to the “Vote Yes” campaign. Yet our hearts are extremely heavy for what is most likely to follow.
I would like to be the first to remind those who voted Yes of the heavy responsibility that comes with this new policy. By legalizing recreational marijuana we are giving permission for the product to be used and sold everywhere throughout our great state. This new law will:
- Be implemented into every local community unless they choose to opt out as citizens
- Still provide employers the right to fire employees for doping
- Allow marijuana growers to sell and exchange this mind altering and misunderstood substance within 1,000 feet of a school or church
- Prohibit driving under the influence of marijuana and put more people in jail as they embrace this newfound freedom to consume - and then get caught in the consequences of their altered behavior
- Increase the responsibility on, cost to, and danger for our police, fire departments, prevention specialists, educators, and health professionals as they work with the results
- Allow for the highest possession limits in the nation
Most Michigan voters do not yet understand that:
- The taxes that may come from this initiative will be far less than 1/2 of 1 percent of the state budget
- Nothing in the proposal limits the THC levels in marijuana
- More marijuana around means more access to youth under the age of 21
- Marijuana stays in your system between 15 to 30 days from the time of use causing employment challenges
- It will be illegal to use marijuana in public
This list is just the tip of the iceberg. Now is a time for vigilance among citizens - in every community - like never before.
My team and I have encountered too many stories of people that found marijuana use to be a stepping stone to harder drugs. We recognize it has value in the medical arena, but we believe the results in states like Colorado have demonstrated recreational use is a bad idea and Michigan citizens should be concerned.
To those who are wondering what’s next the answer is simple: go local.
We recognize that in Colorado, despite the promises, over five years later more than 70% of municipalities have opted out of having the product sold in their communities. We project that number, based on the amount of inquiries we already had within 48 hours after the election, will be even larger in Michigan.
Responsibility now rests on the shoulders of those who have voted Yes - and those who recognize the dangers. To those who voted no - assess what this means for your community and your neighborhood but remember all is not lost.
They may have won this battle but we will continue to engage: we are just getting started in our quest to keep Michigan as healthy and productive as possible.
Scott Greenlee is president of Healthy and Productive Michigan.