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.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A community should not support a faulted exercise of freedoms

The Michigan branch of Americans for Prosperity received a lot of attention Monday by posting fake evection notices on hundreds of homes Detroit’s Delray district. The words “Eviction Notice” were in very large print on yellow sheets of paper. Americans for Prosperity are against the State of Michigan building a second bridge across the Detroit River. The fake notices claimed that their homes would be taken to make way for the new bridge. This was their attempt to get the attention of the residents in the Delray district.

Businessman Manuel (Matty) Moroun is the owner of the Ambassador Bridge. He is strongly opposed to the state building a new bridge. It would obviously draw traffic and business away from the Ambassador Bridge, where Moroun makes money by charging a toll to use the bridge. He has been running television ads making some very outrageous claims about the cost of the new bridge to the taxpayers of Michigan.

Americans for Prosperity, reported to be a conservative group, is based in Washington, D.C. with offices in many states around the country. The group that peppered Delray with the eviction notices is Michigan based. Scott Hagerstrom is the official spokesperson for the Michigan group. He said that he could not say if Moroun’s company, Detroit International Bridge Company, supported the action. The company did issue a statement that said they didn’t support the tactics of Americans for Prosperity.

Americans for Prosperity have committed a faulted exercise of the freedom of speech and it should not be allowed. Buried deep in the story is an issue that needs to be explored to understand why it should not have been allowed. Hagerstrom said that the membership of Americans for Prosperity is secrete. Even though they are involved in the political process, the United States Supreme Court has ruled in error that membership in such organizations can remain hidden.

A representative democracy doesn’t work that way. That isn’t the way it worked over 200 years ago when we separated from England with the Declaration of Independence. John Hancock did not believe that. A wealthy shipping businessman, he could have had much to lose if the events of the day went wrong. It is clear that every British authority of the time knew who he was because of his business and wealth. But, there in the middle of the document is his signature. Many others also signed the document such as Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, Roger Sherman. They wanted their names displayed on this document to show support for the movement at the time.

A country, a community, cannot be based on hidden agendas and secrete societies. It must be based on open government. If someone, anyone, takes a political stand on the issues they need to come forward to announce their views and sign their name. That provides everyone else with the opportunity to make informed judgments about the issues and the arguments for and against.

To Moroun’s credit, he is staking a sizable portion of his wealth by working against the building of the second bridge, not unlike John Hancock. While his assessments of the issue are suspect, at least he has signed his name to issue. Knowing who he is and what is at stake for him, his family and the Detroit International Bridge Company, we can make a better decision to either support or not support his position.

Every freedom comes with a responsibility. In this case, the concept of freedom of speech would have supported the fake eviction notices circulated by Americans for Prosperity. But, with that freedom comes a release of the supporters of the organization. Since the membership remains hidden, Americans for Prosperity have committed a faulted exercise of freedom. They were wrong in circulating the fake notices.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

It is obvious Representative Anthony Weiner needs to leave

Representative Anthony Weiner says he will not resign his house seat in New York.

Last night on national television Representative Weiner admitted that he twitted questionable pictures of himself. This after he said that he didn’t, or couldn’t be sure it was pictures of himself and said his Twitter account had been hacked. Weiner also did not do the one thing that most everyone in the world would do if it happen to them, call the authorities. Instead, he lawyered up, giving the very obvious impression that something was up.

Now, he says he won’t resign? If is almost a waste of the electrons on this blog to ask the question. Is there anyone out there that doesn’t believe he should?

The most basic of trusts, in our personal lives and public lives, is that we need to believe what someone is saying. The fall out in our personal lives can be a marriage that fails and the breaking of other personal relationships. But, in the public sphere, it could be the breakdown of a community and the mistrust of government. Our culture already has trouble believing what politicians say, something like this, where the politician lied and now won’t resign, makes it even worse.

Now is the time for the community to react. This is when the community should be calling on Weiner to leave, petition drives to recall him should be presented and law suits should be filed. While the House itself can take action, it is the citizens of the community that should be working the hardest.

Individuals and communities must be the first to take responsibility. As a way to insure that the right thing happens in situations like this, higher actions can and should be taken at the state and national level. Those actions are necessary to make sure that the entire system at the community level is not corrupt. But, the responsibility to make sure that a community’s representative is honest starts with the community.

Representative Anthony Weiner needs to resign. If he doesn’t, the citizens of the community need to mobilize to remove him.