Take two hits of Maui Wowie and call me in the morning: Baby boomers in the age of medical marijuana

Detroit Grass Station

The Detroit Grass Station illustrates the wordplay that distinguishes many dispensary names. It now finds itself in violation of a new city zoning ordinance, however. (Bridge photo by Nancy Derringer)

After years of driving past and wondering what happens behind the door, I’m behind the door.

I’ve done my prep work. I’ve told no lies. I think I know what I’m in for, but when the buzzer sounds, the lock clicks and I step into this fragrant, blue-and-green-lit space, I realize I’m still flummoxed.

Do I want Don Draper or Blue Dream? Gorilla Kush OG or Cannatonic? Indica or sativa or hybrid? Edible, smokable or vapable? Why is there a picture of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan over by the...what is that stuff? Popcorn?

I’m in a medical marijuana dispensary in Detroit, not far from my home in Grosse Pointe. I’m here for my medicine. But this medicine is like no other. I feel like this place is at least half a joke and I’m not sure if I’m the punchline, an aging baby boomer with bad knees, who has come full circle from gleeful recreational use in the 1970s through years of never touching the stuff, back to looking at marijuana from an entirely different angle. As medicine. Or as “medicine,” like your grandmother used to refer to her martini.

And true to all boomer mythology, I’m metaphorically bringing a bunch of friends along; the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Americans aged 55-64 are the fastest-growing group of users in the country, outpacing their 18-25-year-old children and grandchildren. Since 2002, use has more than quadrupled among those ages 55 to 64 and tripled among those 65 and older, the CDC reports. That’s true in Michigan as well, as a recent study by University of Michigan psychiatrists found while hanging out at a marijuana clinic.

A doctor has sent me to the dispensary, but beyond a brief discussion about types of marijuana and one of its key extracts I have to figure this stuff out for myself. The guy behind the counter at the dispensary is a “caregiver,” but he doesn’t know me and hasn’t seen me in a paper gown. He’s sort of like a pharmacist, but I didn’t arrive with a prescription, only permission.

I can’t figure out if this is 21st-Century health care (I will learn along the way that many medical marijuana users have significant pain and are avoiding opiates), alternative medicine or, like I said, one big joke, legalization of recreational pot via the side door.

And more than 218,000 of my fellow Michiganians stand with me as fellow holders of the card that gets us past the buzzer. For six years, those numbers have been climbing, with medical and otherwise legal marijuana one factor keeping the middle-aged stoned well into their Barcalounger years.

From the looks of the people I see on visits to dispensaries, they include healthy-looking young people whose biggest problem appears to be acne, but also older people leaning on canes. I see middle-aged women much like myself, younger ones who could be my daughter. Black folks, white folks, hipsters, club-kid types, the whole human family as it exists in southeast Michigan in 2017.

So, how did I, how did we, get here?

Like I said: My knees hurt.


The old-style paper bag this dispensary uses is stapled shut by my caregiver, and warns, “Do not open until final destination.” (Bridge photo by Nancy Derringer)

The doctor is in

Three years ago, an orthopedist X-rayed both joints, diagnosed arthritis and casually informed me I was a whisker away from bone-on-bone and overdue for a double knee replacement. I left his office without making another appointment, appalled at both my advancing age and his la-di-da attitude toward such major surgery. The pain has waxed and waned since, but as long as I remain opposed to surgery, my options appear limited to drugs and stoicism.

The pain is lessened by ibuprofen. But ibuprofen is bad for your stomach and long-term use carries a range of nasty side effects. Opiates? Forget it. And that’s how my interest turned to the green crosses I see in my perambulations around Detroit, at places like the Detroit Grass Station, the Reef, the House of Dank and Cannabliss.

Of course I’d used marijuana earlier in life. It was our generation’s bathtub gin. No one tried to pretend it had any use as medicine, except maybe as a way to enhance music appreciation; Pink Floyd’s entire career was predicated on a profoundly stoned fan base, I’m convinced.

But life moves on, bringing graduation, jobs, children, urine tests. Socializing moved from basement rec rooms and dorms to bars and restaurants. Alcohol was legal, weed wasn’t, and I chose social acceptance. Within a few years, I was so out of it that pot references in pop culture flew miles over my head: Dr. Dre’s new record is called “The Chronic?” Chronic what? Is he sick?

Meanwhile, selective breeding and indoor growing was producing plants with far higher levels of its active ingredient, THC. This new stuff was ridiculously strong, not the giggly social lubricant of the ‘70s, but an energy-sapping force that pinned you to the couch like a butterfly to a board.

Other things were changing as well. With indoor growing had come a movement toward legalization, with the medical benefits as a stalking horse. Marijuana, studies claim, has promise for treating a wide range of health conditions. And baby boomers aged into positions of responsibility, their pasts trailing behind. In 1987, Douglas Ginsburg was pressured into withdrawing from a Supreme Court nomination because he’d smoked dope years before. By the time Barack Obama emerged in public life in 2004, he practically smelled like weed smoke, from his days sparking up in the Choom Wagon with the gang back in Hawaii.

There was more: I started knowing more people directly touched by cancer, and a few used marijuana to soften the edges of some very rough passages. They came away believers in the value of this drug and testified to its benefits with far more enthusiasm than they did, say, chemotherapy.

By the time Michigan voters approved the use of medical marijuana in a citizens’ initiative in 2008, it was clear we were in a new world, one where state Court of Appeals judges could make pot references in their opinions, as Judge Peter J. O’Connell did two years later, trying to untangle the citizens initiative:

“Reading this act is similar to participating in the Triwizard Tournament described in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: the maze that is this statute is so complex that the final result will only be known once the Supreme Court has had an opportunity to review and remove the haze from this act.”

It’s almost like the people who wrote it were stoned when they did so.

weed map

Loveland Technologies took on the task of mapping Detroit’s marijuana dispensaries, and found most were close to borders with neighboring cities. (Maps courtesy of Loveland Technologies)

A new world, and it smells funny

The list of conditions approved for medical-marijuana use contains the sorts of things I would fall on my arthritic knees and thank heaven do not afflict me: Cancer, AIDS, HIV, hepatitis C, ALS, Crohn’s disease, nail patella, glaucoma.

But there’s a second list of symptoms and there was my ticket: chronic pain. Pain is a perfect symptom for what doctors call drug-seeking behavior, because it can’t be verified or quantified by anyone other than the person feeling it. And I feel it. In my knees.

My family doctor laughed and said he had no problem with me self-medicating, but he wasn’t going to put his name anywhere near an official document giving me permission. So I went back to a Mack Avenue dispensary and asked for a recommendation. And that was how I found myself in a Sterling Heights office building, having a medical experience that was both familiar (history, blood pressure, forms to fill out) and unfamiliar, in that no one asked about my insurance, and the $100 fee was payable in cash only.  

The doctor entered the room with the authority of a baby-boom Marcus Welby, only, you know, cool. There was never any shilly-shallying about why I was there; I explained about my knees and told him I was interested in cannibidiol, or CBD, the latest thing in cannabis medicine, a zero-THC extract that is said to give marijuana’s benefits without the high. We spent most of our time discussing vape pens and indica vs. sativa strains of weed.

“It’s like Cheech and Chong went to med school,” I marveled.

He never told me I was approved before he left the room. But I was. A nurse came in with my paperwork in a couple of envelopes – one to the state to get my card, the other duplicates that I could take to a dispensary to get my medicine, more or less immediately after writing a $60 check to the state and sending it via certified mail.

And that’s how easy it was to become a patient.

But this is being a patient like no other. Other than the conversation about vaping CBD, there was no sense of how and how much I should be using. When my family doctor writes me a prescription, it’s for a specific drug made under laboratory conditions. There’s a dosage, warnings, a child-proof cap.

No such guidance exists for marijuana. Once you have your card, it’s up to you to figure it out, via trial, error, advice and internet research. It won’t have medicinal names; you’ll have to ask for Pink Panties or Blueberry Headband, Sour Diesel or White Rhino, and let’s not forget Death Star.

And about those dispensaries: They are, in the opinion of Attorney General Bill Schuette and much of law enforcement, illegal. Marijuana itself is illegal under federal law. For now – and perhaps for not much longer – the federal government isn’t enforcing the law in the 26 states that permit medical or recreational use (plus the District of Columbia). In Michigan, some cities tolerate them, and some don’t. You can find them on the Detroit side of 8 Mile Road, but not on the other, because Oakland County’s police agencies don’t allow them. You can find them in Flint, but not Grand Rapids, Ypsilanti but not Dearborn.

On Mack Avenue, the artery that divides the Grosse Pointes from Detroit, dispensaries sprouted like...OK, weeds. At one point, I counted seven in a three-mile stretch.

Essentially, said Matt Abel, a Detroit lawyer whose practice is exclusively marijuana-based, dispensaries operate like mice in a house with a cat who has better things to do.

weed heat map

This heat map of marijuana dispensaries compiled by Loveland Technologies suggests locations near Detroit suburbs are preferred to those farther into the city.

The new speakeasies

This can make for an unstable business environment. When Loveland Technologies, a Detroit-based company that maps individual property parcels in the city, set out to map all the dispensaries there, they consulted no state database, because none exists. Rather, Loveland used independent online sources like Weedmaps and their employees’ own eyes to get an admittedly imprecise estimate of how many were operating.

Loveland’s 2015 report, “Weed in the D,” identified 152 dispensaries “currently or recently operating” in Detroit, with most about a mile from its suburbs, on border streets near Southfield and Dearborn, Grosse Pointe and Warren.

Some keep a lower profile; others display the green cross that has become a universal symbol for medical marijuana. Most are in small storefronts or other converted structures. Abel said a well-located, well-run dispensary can gross tens of thousands of dollars a day.

Lately, many are facing closure, following the passage of a 2015 city ordinance written to get them farther away from schools, churches and parks. It took effect in March 2016 and dispensaries have been working through zoning-board appeals and various legal actions, buying time before a new set of state laws take effect this year to license and tax the production and sale of marijuana in Michigan.

“The city tolerated a lot of behavior (early after the law’s passage),” said Travis Copenhaver, a Lansing-based lawyer who recently represented the Detroit Grass Station in an unsuccessful zoning appeal. (It’s 100 feet too close to a playground.) “A lot of facilities are probably not compliant. Roughly six years later, the city decides to do something about it.”

That’s bad news for the Grass Station. Copenhaver said his client is “evaluating the options,” going forward.

Its operation is typical of the dispensaries I visited. Stepping through the outer door takes you to an anteroom, where you wait if the dispensary is crowded, or if you’re accompanying a cardholder but don’t have one of your own. At the Reef, probably the nicest place I visited, you can read InStyle magazine, help yourself to free coffee, watch TV or enjoy the action in an enormous, wall-mounted saltwater fish tank that is the other reference in the place’s winking name.

You get into the actual dispensary by presenting your state-issued card IDing you as a marijuana patient, along with another ID. A clerk puts you in the dispensary’s database -- or checks your presence there, if you’re a repeat customer -- and buzzes you in.

People talk a lot about the smell of burning marijuana, but the first thing that hits you in a dispensary is its unburnt smell, the rich, redolent aromas of the plant itself, dried and displayed for purchase. Every dispensary I visited does it approximately the same, with a sample of each variety in an open Mason or apothecary jar on the counter, for patients to examine and breathe deeply from, inhaling the various odors – citrusy, fruity, skunky. As you shop, it’s hard not to feel like a wine snob choosing between a big red or a refreshing white.

In fact, there’s a lively supporting industry to help you sort this out. Google the name of any individual strain, and you’ll find web pages underlining the wine-snob vibe:

Crossing a Blueberry indica with the sativa Haze, Blue Dream balances full-body relaxation with gentle cerebral invigoration. ...With a sweet berry aroma redolent of its Blueberry parent, Blue Dream delivers swift symptom relief without heavy sedative effects.

Most varieties are sold by the gram – for around $10-$15 – or fraction of an ounce. Make your selection, pay your money and receive your medicine.

Seeds and sales

A timeline of medical marijuana in Michigan

November 2008: Proposal 1, a citizens’ initiative, passes with more than 60 percent of the vote in 2008, legalizing marijuana for medical use in the state.

October 2009: The U.S. Department of Justice issues a guidance memo to its U.S. attorneys in states where medical marijuana is approved, telling them not to “focus federal resources in your States on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.” The drug remains illegal under federal law and on federal property.

2009-2010: Although the law covers only the patient-caregiver relationship, marijuana dispensaries – essentially stores open to anyone with a state-issued card – begin to open around Michigan.

June 2011: Attorney General Bill Schuette issues an opinion that patient-to-patient sales – an arrangement practiced at some dispensaries – are illegal. Some close. In other cities, including Detroit, dispensaries continue to operate as police choose not to enforce the law.

December 2012: The Legislature passes a package of bills clarifying aspects of the state law, including the doctor-patient relationship.

February 2013: In Michigan v. McQueen, the state Supreme Court agrees with Schuette. “This law is narrowly focused to help the seriously ill, not an open door to unrestricted retail marijuana sales,” Schuette said in a statement. “Dispensaries will have to close their doors.” Some do. Others don’t.

August 2016: Another ballot initiative, this one to legalize marijuana for recreational use, gathers steam before it is kept off the November ballot on a technicality, when the Michigan Court of Claims rules a portion of the signatures were gathered too early, rendering them “stale.”

2017: MI Legalize, the group organizing the legalization effort, continues to raise money and vows to make a second attempt for the 2018 midterm elections.

Green Michigan

It’s all bewildering to contemplate, especially for someone who remembers when the only varietals were Colombian Gold and Panama Red. You almost get the idea you’ve stumbled into a parallel Michigan that operates in a shadow.

And you have.

Howard Lutz is part of it, although his business is entirely legal. Iron Laboratories, in Oakland County’s Walled Lake, tests samples from growers, breaking down a particular crop by various cannabinoid levels, including THC and CBD. They also test for molds, insect infestations and other impurities. In six years, he estimates they’ve tested 100,000 samples, effectively serving as a cross between the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval and the Food and Drug Administration. If Iron Labs says it’s good stuff, it’s backed up by science.

Lutz is looking forward to the new laws, which promise to bring some of these players into the bright light of full legality, along with a tidy revenue stream for the state. The 3 percent excise tax on dispensaries’ gross sales is expected to raise $21 million per year.

“The whole idea is to get rid of the gray areas and make it black and white,” Lutz said. “Essentially what has occurred from 2008 to six months ago (when the laws passed), was a series of trial and error. A lot of people got hurt, a lot made money. Without the clarity, it was a Frisbee game between the legislature, the courts and everybody else.”

The law will require commercially sold marijuana to go through testing like that at Iron Laboratories. While the business has been able to expand through this Frisbee game – Lutz has an outpost in Oregon, where recreational use is legal – he said he hopes the laws will encourage what the whole issue is supposed to be about, i.e., medical research..

“Our people here have masters’ (degrees) in science,” Lutz said. “They’re not a bunch of young recreationalists having fun with machines. Our role is serious. If you have a bad knee, and if you were trying to get off opiates, or had cancer, or an infant with seizures?”

Marijuana has promise for all these conditions, and more, he said.

The new laws won’t allow for the spread of dispensaries throughout the state. Cities that don’t want them don’t need to do anything to keep them out, Abel said, and those that do have to craft a local ordinance granting however many licenses they want to allow.

Abel said the legislation should sort out the confusing tangle they’re in now.

“People assume dispensaries are legal, because they’re all over the place,” he said. There’s also the thorny business of how they’re stocked; if dispensary owners buy from growers, they risk felony arrest.

The existing statute is such a mess, he said, that it’s perfectly legal for a caregiver to light a joint and pass it to a patient, but illegal for the patient to pass it back.

“The legal term for that,” Abel said, “is bullshit.”

I spoke to one caregiver, who cultivates the legal maximum of 72 plants at a time, 12 for each of five cardholders and 12 more for himself, perfectly legal under the law. He’s strict about his plant counts, and prominently labels various harvests “cured” or “uncured,” because that’s where it gets sticky. He can possess 2.5 ounces of cured – dried, smokable weed – per patient, but his harvests typically yield hundreds of pounds, which he sells, at considerable legal risk, to dispensaries.

When the licensing process opens in December, he plans to apply for a grower-processor license and be fully legal, “seed to sale.” He’s on the hunt for real estate where he can erect a hoop house for cold weather and an adjacent field where his plants can grow under the summer sky.

“I can start paying my taxes and be a normal human at that point,” he said. He’ll be happy with that. “Right now, I’m a fox crawling around in the woods.”

Matt Abel

Lawyer Matt Abel’s practice, Cannabis Counsel, PLC, advertises “lawyers who roll the right way.” The office is decorated with posters and memorabilia of marijuana culture. (Bridge photo by Nancy Derringer)

The verdict

So, maybe you’re wondering, how are those knees?

My first try was comedy. At the dispensary, I asked for and received a strain high in CBD, supposedly the miracle stuff. I didn’t realize that many high-CBD strains also have considerable THC, too. I packed a borrowed pipe and took three of what comedian Louis C.K. describes as “big, 1970s, denim-jacket, Bad Company-size hits.” An hour later, after burning dinner, petting my dog so much she finally slinked away to her bed and spending a little time doing the Twist, alone, in my living room, I thought to check in with my knees.

No change, but I was decidedly stoned and no longer cared.

Back to the dispensary, I got a zero-THC CBD extract and a similar edible, and can report it seemed to help. A little. But it cost way more than ibuprofen, and I can’t buy it with my health savings account money. Knee surgery is looking more and more inevitable.

In the meantime, my medicine chest is a lot more interesting.

I’d invite you over to sample it, but that would be against the law.

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Kevin Grand
Tue, 03/14/2017 - 7:41am

The irony of this story?

"And about those dispensaries: They are, in the opinion of Attorney General Bill Schuette and much of law enforcement, illegal. Marijuana itself is illegal under federal law. For now – and perhaps for not much longer – the federal government isn’t enforcing the law in the 26 states that permit medical or recreational use (plus the District of Columbia). In Michigan, some cities tolerate them, and some don’t. You can find them on the Detroit side of 8 Mile Road, but not on the other, because Oakland County’s police agencies don’t allow them. You can find them in Flint, but not Grand Rapids, Ypsilanti but not Dearborn."

Ms. Derringer, if you ever do a follow-up to this piece, I recomend that you go up to Lansing next time.

AG Schuette may not like it, but you cannot go very far without tripping over a dispencerary practically five minutes from the state capitol building.

Hmmmm, large number of dispenceraries. Lack of willingingness to work. Penchant for munchies.


Mary Fox
Tue, 03/14/2017 - 9:40am

Where do you get this idea that there is a lack of willingness to work? What there is is a lack of affordable health care for people in pain. If this eases it using the Natural Way as Mel Trump suggests instead of actual medical care, then so be it. Millions of people smoke pot. Regulating it just makes it safer. (and for the record--I don't smoke it. I have medical insurance.)

Nancy Derringer
Tue, 03/14/2017 - 10:07am

Years ago, I did a story on midwifery and home births, and went into it assuming that most people interested in such things would be granola-hippie types into natural health, etc. Wrong. Those people were certainly present, but most women who hired midwives and gave birth under their own roofs were those without health insurance and/or the cash to pay a hospital and obstetrician. 

I believe the same is true of lots of MM patients. Pain is a significant issue for many, and they either don't want to take painkillers, or they simply can't afford to. 

Kevin Grand
Tue, 03/14/2017 - 12:08pm

Ms. Fox,

I happen to have known a lot of people who did that way back in the day when I went to high school & college. So my statement comes from first-hand observations.

And if you'd like, I'd be more than happy to quote some Jack Herer if you are into that sort of thing.

So yes, I am aware of some of the other "side-effects".

Mary Kovari
Tue, 03/14/2017 - 10:09am

Thank you for this wonderfully insightful, thoughtful and funny story

Richard Cole
Tue, 03/14/2017 - 11:47am

Absolutely wonderful story -- informational, full of great insights and very funny.
Thanks again to the great award-winning Bridge team.

Tue, 03/14/2017 - 1:17pm

I hold a steady, relatively high-profile position and make pretty good money doing so. I interact with dozens of people, provide education services for many others. I also consume cannabis in its various forms, mostly smoking the flowers (traditional) and eat edibles (cookies or candy mostly) for when I'm in public and don't want to smell like I've been smoking weed. My reason for partaking varies - some strains help me sleep, some strains help with back pain, some help me relax, sometimes I like to lay back and listen to music. There is even some that go well with a cup of coffee in the morning. Point is, no one would never if i didn't tell them and I don't. But I know plenty of professional and church going folk that do.

It's also worth noting... I have a medical marijuana card and I gift some of my medication to my cousin with brain cancer, who by the way, had a card at one point but has no one to advocate for him when its time for him to renew ever year. I also have a long-time friend with Hodgkin's lymphoma who refuses to apply for a medical marijuana card because he's afraid the feds are going to come knocking and he'll loose his job as a high school teacher. In both cases, cannabis is preferred over the pain medication given to them to help with pain and the side-effects of chemotherapy.

Don't get me wrong, I feel strongly that like most things in life cannabis should be consumed in moderation. It should also be kept away from most people under 21 years of age. I can see its ability to sap motivation. It's use has to be monitored for those with goals in life.

I guess I'm just giving a perspective on a plant. A PLANT!!!

Tue, 03/14/2017 - 2:22pm

I've had several head injuries as a result I suffer daily from severe headaches. All the doctors could do for me was give me opioids which I was on for 8 years. It took me months to wean myself off of the drugs and now I use cannabis. After trial and error I am now able to handle the headaches on my own terms and successfully. I no longer suffer from depression that had plagued me for years. I look forward to when you can buy cannabis butter and edibles legally next year. I just wish that the state would speed up the process and make them available sooner!

Dr Gonzo
Tue, 03/14/2017 - 3:13pm

Good piece, Nancy. You are now a part of what literally every person under 40 years old already knows: the marijuana culture is alive and well, and forever will be. Legal, illegal, whatever -- people will still use the stuff.

Throughout all the generations, from crack cocaine binges in the 80's to meth and opiates in the 2000's, one drug has not killed anyone -- ever. It's grown from the earth. It does not make one violent; the worst-case scenario is it makes a person extra hungry.

A future story should touch on WHY Shuette and the rest of his cohorts are so against pot -- so much so that the state found a loophole in recreational marijuana signatures prior to last year's election, and it never made the ballot. I guess the state hates hundreds of millions of dollars in new income. It's not like we have roads to fix, right?

Chuck Moss
Tue, 03/14/2017 - 3:29pm

Answered all my questions except where do they show Yellow Submarine at midnight.

Jennifer atkinson
Tue, 03/14/2017 - 3:35pm

U need a topical holy oil (the orignal) my mother uses this u dont need alot at a time on really bad days apply oil then heat for 10 min u will feel like a new u . tell michael thue i sent you! http://www.greatlakeshempsupplements.com/

Robyn Tonkin
Tue, 03/14/2017 - 6:08pm

Hi Nancy: I am very sorry for the pain that you are in. At 63, after a very full life of all sorts of adventures, and of running five miles several times a week for a couple of decades, for some reason my knees are fine. I guess 5 miles is not that far after all. My husband, however, while his knees are fine, has shoulder problems. We have no idea why. He had a shoulder replaced 7 years ago, and it is fine. The other one, however, has been getting more arthritic for several years, and he just doesn't want the surgery. So much cutting, so much physical therapy afterward, the danger of post op blood clots. Knee and hip replacements have become outpatient surgeries, not so with shoulder surgery. I researched the Paleo diet for myself two years ago, and adopted it, and started making bone broth for my husband and giving it to him every day. bone broth is stewed from bones, and contains minerals and joint compounds. It has helped my husband a very great deal. His shoulder is not restored, but he has a great deal more range of movement, and less pain, and he finds he can live with it much more easily. He will need surgery eventually, at this point I am trying to find somebody who will just clean the joint and buy us some more time. I make bone broth for him with organic bones (we live in the rural UP and I get bones from a farmer in N WI--it's nice to be rural...) but it's in all the stores in cans now, and our daughter buys it freeze dried. something to think about anyway.

John Q. Public
Tue, 03/14/2017 - 6:52pm

Just out of curiosity, has Detroit (or any place else) documented the many abhorent societal detriments (increased crime, declining property value, noise, etc.) resulting from having either (or both) too many dispensaries, and having them too close to churches, schools and parks?

I'm curious because I frequent many areas where dispensaries are located, and I've never seen any of those things. I'd rather live next door to a dispensary than a school, church or park.

Beth M
Wed, 03/15/2017 - 11:49am

A great, informative read.
And making the case for using medical marijuana over opioids seems to be the strongest argument for changing folks' views.

Wed, 03/15/2017 - 5:40pm

The are all over the place in Lansing, some with inventive names like "The Emerald City" and "Lansderdam".

Brendan Walsh
Thu, 03/16/2017 - 8:08am

Entertaining, informative and compelling. Wonderfully executed and presented story and great example of how Bridge serves such a great need for state-level issues. Well done, Nancy.

William Clark
Mon, 05/08/2017 - 9:47pm

No one should promote the canard that marijuana is socially undesirable, or dangerous--inherently toxic--like pharmaceutical drugs. Or even that it is a ‘drug’, except in Merriam-Webster’s third and broadest definition, as something which affects the mind. By that definition, religion and television (‘the plug-in drug’) should also be included. In truth marijuana is a medicinal herb, cultivated, bred, and evolved in service to human beings over thousands of years.

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that had two enemies: the anti-war left and black people. We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting people to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, break up their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” --John Ehrlichman

Prohibition of marijuana is a premise built on a tissue of lies: Concern For Public Safety. Our new laws save hundreds of lives every year, on our highways alone. In November of 2011, a study at the University of Colorado found that in the thirteen states that decriminalized marijuana between 1990 and 2009, traffic fatalities dropped by nearly nine percent—now nearly ten percent in Michigan—more than the national average, while sales of beer went flat by five percent. No wonder Big Alcohol opposes it. Ambitious, unprincipled, profit-driven undertakers might be tempted too.

In 2012 a study released by 4AutoinsuranceQuote revealed that marijuana users are safer drivers than non-marijuana users, as "the only significant effect that marijuana has on operating a motor vehicle is slower driving", which "is arguably a positive thing".

No one has ever died from an overdose of marijuana. It's the most benign 'substance' in history. Most people—and particularly patients who medicate with marijuana--use it in place of prescription drugs or alcohol.

Marijuana has many benefits, most of which are under-reported or never mentioned in American newspapers. Research at the University of Saskatchewan indicates that, unlike alcohol, cocaine, heroin, or Nancy (“Just say, ‘No!’”) Reagan’s beloved nicotine, marijuana is a neuroprotectant that actually encourages brain-cell growth. Researchers in Spain (the Guzman study) and other countries have discovered that it also has tumor-shrinking, anti-carcinogenic properties. These were confirmed by the 30-year Tashkin population study at UCLA.

Drugs are man-made, cooked up in labs, for the sake of patents and the profits gained by them. Often useful, but typically burdened with cautionary notes and lists of side effects as long as one's arm. 'The works of Man are flawed.'

Marijuana is a medicinal herb, the most benign and versatile in history. In 1936 Sula Benet, a Polish anthropologist, traced the history of the word “marijuana”. It was “cannabis” in Latin, and “kanah bosm” in the old Hebrew scrolls, quite literally the Biblical Tree of Life, used by early Christians to treat everything from skin diseases to deep pain and despair. Why despair? Consider the current medical term for cannabis sativa: a “mood elevator”. . . as opposed to antidepressants, which ‘flatten out’ emotions, leaving patients numb to both depression and joy.

The very name, “Christ” translates as “the anointed one”. Well then, anointed with what? It’s a fair question. And it wasn’t holy water, friends. Holy water came into wide use in the Middle Ages. In Biblical times, it was used by a few tribes of Greek pagans. And Christ was neither Greek nor pagan.

Medicinal oil, for the Prince of Peace. A formula from the Biblical era has been rediscovered. It specifies a strong dose of oil from kanah bosom, ‘the fragrant cane’ of a dozen uses: ink, paper, rope, nutrition. . . . It was clothing on their backs and incense in their temples. And a ‘skinful’ of medicinal oil could certainly calm one’s nerves, imparting a sense of benevolence and connection with all living things. No wonder that the ‘anointed one’ could gain a spark, an insight, a sense of the divine, and the confidence to convey those feelings to friends and neighbors.

Don't want it in your neighborhood? Maybe you're not the Christian you thought you were.

Me? I’m appalled at the number of 'Christian' politicians, prosecutors, and police who pose on church steps or kneeling in prayer on their campaign trails, but cannot or will not face the scientific or the historical truths about cannabis, Medicinal Herb Number One, safe and effective for thousands of years, and celebrated as sacraments by most of the world’s major religions.