More and more, we are seeing the public awaken to the corruption and malevolence of the federal government. While we are certainly living in a frightening time, doors are opening for potential reforms. State legislators are now willing to take on their abuses unlike ever before. A whole slew of active bills have been introduced in Lansing that would curb the abuses of one of Washington D.C’s most glaring, obvious failures: the drug war.

A bipartisan group of state legislators have emerged to take on federal prohibition, the senseless policy that has resulted in billions of dollars being squandered, systematic property rights abuses, the destruction of state sovereignty, the corruption of our police forces, and the largest prison population in the history of mankind.

PROTECTING MEDICAL MARIJUANA PATIENTS

Because law enforcement officials don’t want to give up the immense gravy train that is prohibition, many of them have just ignored the mandate for legalized medical marijuana that was passed by the voters back in 2008. This has caused many innocent people who were abiding by the law to have their lives destroyed. Law enforcement exploited vagueness in the ballot initiative to give themselves an open-ended mandate to harass medical patients and squash their health freedom.

Thankfully, Lansing has taken action against this abusive process. Rep. Eileen Kowall (R-44) along with 30 bipartisan co-sponsors introduced House Bill 5104 (HB5104) in an attempt to set up clearer regulatory guidelines that prevent overzealous law enforcement officers from squandering resources to persecute medical marijuana users.

The bill states in part that “a qualifying patient who has been issued and possesses a registry identification card shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner, or denied any right or privilege, including but not limited to civil penalty or disciplinary action by a business or occupational or professional licensing board or bureau, for the medical use of marihuana in accordance with this act.”

In addition, HB5104 safeguards medical practitioners from liability for prescribing marijuana to sick patients. Those who provide qualifying medical patients with paraphernalia would also be protected under the law.

CIVIL ASSET FORFEITURE

Another abuse related to the war on drugs is called civil asset forfeiture or ‘Policing for Profit’ (more info available HERE). This has allowed the government to seize billions of dollars worth of property from suspects before they are even convicted of a crime. It has completely inverted the entire idea of our Justice system, and has driven an unneeded wedge between law enforcement and public they are supposed to serve.

The Michigan legislature has an active bill dealing with that as well. House Bill 5081 (HB5081) was introduced by a Michigan Tenth Amendment Center favorite, Rep. Tom McMillin (R-45) along with eight bipartisan co-sponsors. It would increase the reporting requirements of agencies that seized private property from Michigan residents. This information would include a description of all property that was forfeited, the value of the property in question, the date the property was disposed of, specific details about firearms if they were seized, and many other pertinant details. This bill would make it harder for law enforcement to conduct these asset forfeiture raids while keeping the details about them hidden from the public.

MARIJUANA DECRIMINALIZATION

There are also two other important bills which we covered on the MITAC blog last year. They remain active during this legislative season. The first is House Bill 4623 (HB4623) which was introduced in April 2013 by Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) and garnered six bipartisan co-sponsors. This bill would reduce possession of small amounts of marijuana to a civil infraction punishable by a small fine and would serve as an important rebuke of the war on drugs, one of the federal government’s most evident ongoing policy blunders.

HB4623 does not completely legalize marijuana for possession and cultivation, but it does prevent people found with up to an ounce on them from being prosecuted criminally. Instead of potentially facing jail time and heavy fines, first time offenders would be fined no more than $25 dollars with second time offenders fined a maximum of $50 and offenses from that point on would be fined no more than $100. According to Rep. Irwin, the state of Michigan is spending a minimum of $325 million per year on arresting, trying and jailing marijuana users. This bill would save hundreds of millions potentially that can be used to fund essential services such as roads and schools. Senate Bill 626 (SB626) was also introduced as a companion bill by Sen. Coleman Young (D-1) with much of the same language as HB4623.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA DISPENSARIES

The final bill to chip away at the drug war is House Bill 4271 (HB4271), the Medical Marijuana Provisioning Center Regulation Act. This bill would regulate medical marijuana provisioning centers or dispensaries as they are more commonly referred. HB4271 would allow for communities to decide whether or not they would have a dispensary. This would clarify any confusion relating to the current law.

Introduced by Rep. Mike Callton (R-Nashville) with 28 bipartisan co-sponsors, this bill ensures that the people’s voice will not be ignored by bitter members of law enforcement reluctant to give up their illicit power afforded to them by the unconstitutional war on drugs. Communities could decide for themselves whether or not they would make sure that ill residents would be able to receive their potentially life-saving medicine.

ACTION STEPS

All of these important bills are currently dormant, awaiting committee hearings. Legislators in Lansing are happy to drag their feet and let them expire without taking any further action. Only by letting our voices be heard can we force them to move these bills forward to a full vote. Here are some simple steps that you can take to effectively fight the drug war in Michigan:

FOR HB4271:

1. Contact the Senate Government Operations Committee Chair, Randy Richardville. Strongly, but respectfully urge him to move this important bill forward to a vote in his committee.
(517) 373-3543

2. Call all the other members of the Committee.   Again, be strong but respectful. Ask them each for a YES vote on HB4271. If they say they’re opposed, ask them why. If they’re undecided or will not commit to a YES vote, let them know you will be following up in a few days after they have a chance to consider it. A phone call has 10x the impact of an email.

Dave Hildenbrand (R) Majority Vice Chair (517) 373-1801
Arlan B Meekhof (R) (517) 373-6920
Gretchen Whitmer (D) 517-373-1734
Tupac A Hunter (D) 517-373-0994

FOR HB4623:

1. Contact the House Judiciary Committee Chair, Kevin Cotter. Strongly, but respectfully urge him to move this important bill forward to a vote in his committee.
(517) 373-1789

2. Call all the other members of the House Judiciary Committee.   Again, be strong but respectful. Ask them each for a YES vote on HB4623. If they say they’re opposed, ask them why. If they’re undecided or will not commit to a YES vote, let them know you will be following up in a few days after they have a chance to consider it. A phone call has 10x the impact of an email.

Klint Kesto (R) Majority Vice-Chair – (517) 373-1799
Kurt Heise (R) – (517) 373-3816
Joel Johnson (R) – (517) 373-8962
Andrea LaFontaine (R) – (517) 373-8931
Tom Leonard (R) – (517) 373-1778
Martin Howrylak (R) – (517) 373-1783
Phil Cavanagh (D) Minority Vice-Chair – (517) 373-0857
Ellen Lipton (D) – (517) 373-0478
Jeff Irwin (D) – (517) 373-2577
Paul Clemente (D) – (517) 373-0140

FOR SB626:

1. Contact the Senate Judiciary Committee Chair, Rick Jones. Strongly, but respectfully urge him to move this important bill forward to a vote in his committee.
(517) 373-3447

2. Call all the other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.   Again, be strong but respectful. Ask them each for a YES vote on SB626. If they say they’re opposed, ask them why. If they’re undecided or will not commit to a YES vote, let them know you will be following up in a few days after they have a chance to consider it. A phone call has 10x the impact of an email.

Tonya Schuitmaker (R) Majority Vice Chair (517) 373-0793
Tory Rocca (R) (517) 373-7315
Steven M Bieda (D) 517-373-8360

FOR HB5081:

1. Contact the House Oversight Committee Chair, Tom McMillin . Strongly, but respectfully urge him to move this important bill forward to a vote in his committee.
(517) 373-1773

2. Call all the other members of the House Oversight Committee.   Again, be strong but respectful. Ask them each for a YES vote on HB5081. If they say they’re opposed, ask them why. If they’re undecided or will not commit to a YES vote, let them know you will be following up in a few days after they have a chance to consider it. A phone call has 10x the impact of an email.

Tim Kelly (R) Majority Vice-Chair (517) 373-0837
Margaret O’Brien (R) (517) 373-1774
Tom Leonard (R) (517) 373-1778
Martin Howrylak (R) (517) 373-1783
Jim Townsend (D) Minority Vice-Chair (517) 373-3818
Rose Mary Robinson (D) (517) 373-1008
Phil Phelps (D) (517) 373-7515

FOR HB5104:

1. Contact the Senate Government Operations Committee Chair, Randy Richardville. Strongly, but respectfully urge him to move this important bill forward to a vote in his committee.
(517) 373-3543

2. Call all the other members of the Senate Government Operations Committee.   Again, be strong but respectful. Ask them each for a YES vote on HB5104. If they say they’re opposed, ask them why. If they’re undecided or will not commit to a YES vote, let them know you will be following up in a few days after they have a chance to consider it. A phone call has 10x the impact of an email.

Dave Hildenbrand (R) (517) 373-1801
Arlan B Meekhof (R) (517) 373-6920
Gretchen Whitmer (D) 517-373-1734
Tupac A Hunter (D) 517-373-0994

ADDITIONAL STEPS YOU CAN TAKE

Call Back – any NO or UNDECIDED – in 3-4 days. Ask if they’ve had a chance to review the legislation and what their opposition might be. Comment below or contact us at http://ask.tenthamendmentcenter.com with any information you get.

SHARE this information widely. By facebook, twitter, email, and more.

Write a letter to the editor. Look up your local newspaper and submit a letter to the editor voicing your support for these important bills.

Report Back. Tell us how your actions went. Click the button below

Now that many of our legislators have stepped up to the plate and shown their willingness to push back against the unconstitutional war on drugs, we have to rally around their efforts and give them our full support. These bills won’t be successful unless we take the steps to push them to victory! Make the calls, spread the word, and we can help bring federal prohibition to its long overdue end.

Shane Trejo

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