Thursday, June 9, 2011

Let's not make an example of a 70 year woman in an attempt to stamp our the evil weed

An Oakland County woman who is 70 years old faces the possibility of spending up to 4 years in prison because she used marijuana.

Barbra Argo as reported by the Oakland Press was convicted of one count of delivery of a control substance. She was working in a medical marijuana dispensary in Ferndale. Argo told police that raided the facility that she was growing plants in her Lake Orion home. Sure enough, when police searched the home they found the marijuana plants and other items. Argo is a registered medical marijuana patient and caregiver, which arguably allows her to have the plants for personal use and provide it to others.

All of this confusion over the laws that govern the growing, use and distribution of the weed has come about since Michigan voted to allow it for medical use. The state legislature bungled the job of clearly defining the use of marijuana in medical cases. Jessica Cooper and others in Oakland County including County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and Sheriff Michael Bouchard have been on a crusade to stamp out the use of the drug. All of this, while Arizona (yes, Arizona of all states) is challenging the federal government’s right under the constitution to dictate to states the use of marijuana and other controlled substances.

Authorities on the county level are attempting to force the state to clarify restrictions on the use of marijuana, and could perhaps be correct. But, as a result, they are upsetting the lives of people who need the drug to ease their pain and suffering.

It was clear from the state wide vote a few years ago that the people should be able to have access to the substance. In 2008 the vote was 3.7 million to only 1.7 million in support of the initiative. Every county in the state supported the measure. The state should have made the laws as clear as the outcome of the election. But, those in the legislature that didn’t like the will of the people decided to make it difficult, if impossible, to use the drug with a prescription.

Some cities across the state have refused to enforce the law until the state comes clean with a process to govern the use of the substance. Instead of finding 70 year old grandmotherly types guilty of a crime that hurts no body, Oakland County officials should have done the same thing.

It is within the judge’s power to give Argo a light sentence. The judge should do just that. Let’s move on Ms. Cooper. With limited budgets because of the recession, let’s use the funds to go after real crime, that which injures people.


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