The following guest commentary was written by Dr. Lou Zako, a semi-retired doctor living in Harbor Springs. His views are his own. Email him at [email protected].
As many of our readers may know, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers recently certified that enough valid petition signatures were obtained to place on the ballot in this November’s general election the question of whether the voters of Michigan wish to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for those who are 21 and older. You may also know that in 2008 Michigan joined a growing number of states in legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
Nine other states have already legalized recreational use of marijuana and a much larger number have legalized medical marijuana.
As with all highly charged public policy issues, the proponents of legalization offer telling arguments for such legalization while opponents offer equally telling arguments against legalization.
Marijuana legality is unlike most public policy issues, with perhaps the exception of illegal immigration, in that it is complicated by the fact that federal and state laws are in conflict. In my view, most Americans innately wish to be law-abiding but are conflicted when laws are conflicted.
The use, sale, and possession of all forms of cannabis (marijuana) in the United States is illegal under federal law. As a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970, marijuana is considered to have “no accepted medical use.”
Today it is illegal for any licensed physician in Michigan to prescribe marijuana. Under current state law, a few Michigan physicians, presumably after conducting a thorough physical exam, provide an individual patient with a medical marijuana card, with the patient then obtaining his or her supply of marijuana