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Ferndale Raid Underscores Silliness of Drug War

I remember when Ronald Reagan launched that ridiculous and ill-defined War on Drugs back in the 1980s, a war, as it turned out, that would be waged less in the cocoa fields of Colombia than in the streets of poor neighborhoods in cities like Detroit. Little good came of it, of course, but it seemed like such an easy sell back then, what with all the images of armed drug gangs wreaking havoc with AK-47s in urban centers across the land.

Now, decades later, with the crack hysteria largely behind us and our nation's prisons bulging with low-level drug offenders and nonviolent users, you'd figure we'd be evolved enough to move away from the draconian measures that have proven so ineffective at curtailing drug use. (More on Learning How to Grow Medical Marijuana)

Leave it to the Oakland County Sheriff's Department, though, to keep driving jackboots into the ribcage of a dead horse, mere days after the City Council of Ferndale, Mich., lifted a moratorium on medical marijuana businesses in the Detroit suburb.

"They had patients on the ground. There were cancer patients on the ground, senior citizens on the ground and staff on the ground. They raided all of our partners' homes while their kids were home. They were taking their TVs like we were drug dealers," Richmond said.

Richmond said police took HIPPA-protected documents, all patient files and TVs from the clinic.

"I am in shock. They have not said why they did this," he said.

Apparently, the scourge has morphed from Young Boys Incorporated to old men with patient cards.

As to the question of "why they did this," even if the cops did say why, what would it matter? They are still doing this defiance of the will of the City Council and the majority of voters in this state. They are doing this in defiance of even the U.S. Department of Justice, which has said it won't prosecute marijuana dispensaries that abide by state laws.

And they're not the only ones still stuck on stupid with regard to effective drug policy. Not long ago, listening to a radio program, I heard a Detroit police official reiterate his department's intention to continue to go after marijuana growers, even if they operated in full compliance with state law.

How ridiculous is that? And what's so wrong with some of these law-enforcement officials — not all, mind you, as I'm quite familiar with some officers who favor drug legalization — that they can't let go of this unimportant fight? Why are top cops like Oakland County Sheriff (and failed GOP gubernatorial candidate) Mike Bouchard so invested in this futile notion that kicking in doors will, or should, stop marijuana use? And why do they refuse to honor the will of the people, even when that will stretches as far up as the White House?

Dispensaries such as the one that was raided aren't a problem. In fact, they've proven to be a source of both tax revenue and relief.

Truth is, the regressive forces that have spent decades needlessly demonizing marijuana have lost. It's time law-enforcement officials like Bouchard gave it up. Most of us around here are smart enough to know we don't need to be "saved" or "protected" from marijuana and certainly not from outlets deemed legal by the voters themselves.

It's time for the drug warriors to find a new fight.

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  • 1

    Your right we dont need to be protected from cannabis but we do need protection from police who violate state medical cannabis laws and also violate federal HIPPA laws. .
    Thomas Jefferson knew that there would be times when the people would probably have to fight to keep the govt and the authoritys from ignoring our rights and he stated
    The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms
    is, as a last resort, to protect themselves
    against tyranny in government.
    In my opinion this is that form of tyranny and I hope it does not come to that but If people have to protect them selves from rouge police depts' who violate the federal and state laws then I feel they are protected by our constitution if they must fight back .
    These drug cops are running wild nation wide killing pets murdering innocent citizens when they get the wrong address while raiding houses with no knock warrants in the early morning hrs
    making people think they are being robbed and then slaughtering them when they try to defend their home and family's .
    There is no reason for this to continue any longer Its time for the police to either follow the law or for the citizens to make them do so by force
    if it comes that and the way things are going with these out of control paramilitary police forces it probably will and the police will have no sympathy from any freedom loving law abiding american

  • 2

    What we do need is protection from someone who says "Fire up the rockets" when the chief engineer says "No, it's too cold!"

    And from someone who says that the Pilots are making too much, teach them a lesson!

    So we need protection from yahoo politicians.


  • 3

    I'm a medical marijuana patient I was one of the first 300 in the state, I've also had the unfortunate privilege of being targeted by Bouchard and Cooper to be one of their test cases. I have chronic Lyme Disease, Trigeminal Neuralgia, Arthritis in every joint in my body due to widespread infection, and countless other things wrong with me. In the past month I have lost 20 pounds going from an already too light 160 to about 140lbs because none of the prescription med's work. I'm able to eat one meal each day, after I smoke, if, I have something prepared and sitting in front of me before I medicate... In the eyes of Bouchard and Cooper I am a criminal.
    Smoking marijuana isn't always for recreation, when your smoking because it truly is the only thing that will help it may even become a chore. But despite that, it's a far superior choice to addictive painkillers and, Blue Cross Blue Shield's $2k a month for my Zofran script so I don't vomit as much when I wake up every morning.
    If either of these businesses actually violated a law they do deserve to be prosecuted. However you have to be very naive to think that the people who operated these businesses were operating all willy-nilly. From all of my personal accounts with every owner and employee at both of the business raided yesterday they were all professional caring people. Following the law always seemed to be the first concern of these people because they respect the law and the fact that this is something new to the state and they wanted to show how things should be done properly.
    They made sure every new patient that visited was educated to the law and made every person bind themselves contractually to never violate the law. In addition they had local approval and the local police knew it was operating and knew it was being operated within the law.
    Granted this is being written before the OCSD had their press release so there may have been illegal activity I wasn't aware of however I suspect this isn't the case. I have found that Bouchard and Cooper have made it a point to test every case possible no matter who they run over and who's lives they destroy in their path.
    They have illegally ceased my and every other patient who has gone to either of these businesses medical records that are HIPPA protected. As a patient I feel my rights and my personal information, and privacy rights have been violated by theOakland County Sheriff's department yesterday… What is my legal recourse against them as a patient? Who do I turn to keep my information from an overfunded under regulated police force that clearly doesn't care about patients' rights, civil rights, or privacy?

    If you voted for the legalization of medical marijuana in Michigan you should be outraged by the behavior of Sheriff Bouchard and Jessica Cooper they are directly attacking what Michigan voters decided was the proper compassionate thing to do.

    I am truly deeply upset I hope that the gentlemen who put their lives and freedom at risk operating in Bouchard's police state to bring patients the medicine they need will not end up being tied up in court forever and maliciously prosecuted. However I have experienced being an Oakland county marijuana test case first hand and I fear for these men. Let's hope their families don't have to experience what mine has, being driven into poverty to finance their legal defense only to be found innocent in the end…

    I would love to post my full name so that I might bask in any positive attention I might get from this post however I can't for fear of more police harassment.

  • 4

    Bouchard is posturing, displaying his ambition, trying to revive his political prospects. He reminds me of that former Oakland County prosecutor Thompson that went out after Kevorkian and paid for it politically. After such a dumb move, Bouchard will hopefully before long be back in the private sector looking for a job.

    There's a more important war on drugs that should be waged. That's a war against the drug companies that hawk and profit from drugs that are very addictive (adderall, oxycontin, etc.), drugs that are used off label, and drugs with terrible/dangerous side effects. The drug companies are responsible for many more deaths and much more pain and suffering than the drug dealers who market the illegal stuff.

    Marijuana, while not harmless as its advocates say, does help a lot of people.

  • 5

    This is just another and most recent example of the insanity that has infiltrated our government's drug war policy. As horrific as your example is, an even more tragically absurd situation is our government's policy in Afganistan and the entire Mid-East.

    We have sent our young men and women into that Hell hole to be blown to bits while they are instructed to, not only avoid harming the opium poppy fields, but to protect them. The reasoning behind this policy is that opium production is the main industry of the Afganistan people and to destroy the poppy fields would only further alienate the Afganistan people against the U.S.

    Can anyone find a more perfect Catch 22 example than this?

    Under the Bush logic, "that we fight them over there so that we don't have to fight them over here", we spend $billions to send our young kids to suffer horrible injuries and deaths as they fight to protect us from terrorism while they also protect, under U.S Govern. policy, the terrorists fields of opium which will in turn will be sent to the streets of our cities and into the veins of our young children enslaving them in lives of crime costing society $billions to fight, as they feed their habit costing further $billions which will end up financing the terrorists against whom we must spend $billions to send our young kids to suffer horrible injuries and deaths as they fight to protect us from terrorism ...

    Stuck on stupid? Oh yea.

  • 6

    1) In response to passage of California's medical marijuana law, the White House had the Institute of Medicine (IOM) review the data on marijuana's medical benefits and risks. The IOM concluded, "Nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety are all afflictions of wasting, and all can be mitigated by marijuana." While noting potential risks of smoking, the report added, "we acknowledge that there is no clear alternative for people suffering from chronic conditions that might be relieved by smoking marijuana, such as pain or AIDS wasting." The government's refusal to acknowledge this finding caused co-author John A. Benson to tell the New York Times that the government "loves to ignore our report … they would rather it never happened." Joy, JE, Watson, SJ, and Benson, JA. Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base. National Academy Press. 1999. p. 159. See also, Harris, G. FDA Dismisses Medical Benefit From Marijuana. New York Times. Apr.
    21, 2006

    2) Donald Tashkin, a UCLA researcher whose work is funded by NIDA, did a case-control study comparing 1,200 patients with lung, head and neck cancers to a matched group with no cancer. Even the heaviest marijuana smokers had no increased risk of cancer, and had somewhat lower cancer risk than non-smokers (tobacco smokers had a 20-fold increased lung cancer risk). Tashkin D. Marijuana Use and Lung Cancer: Results of a Case-Control Study. American Thoracic Society International Conference. May 23, 2006.

    3) Researchers at the Kaiser-Permanente HMO, funded by NIDA, followed 65,000 patients for nearly a decade, comparing cancer rates among non-smokers, tobacco smokers, and marijuana smokers. Tobacco smokers had massively higher rates of lung cancer and other cancers. Marijuana smokers who didn't also use tobacco had no increase in risk of tobacco-related cancers or of cancer risk overall. In fact their rates of lung and most other cancers were slightly lower than non-smokers, though the difference did not reach statistical significance. Sidney, S. et al. Marijuana Use and Cancer Incidence (California, United States). Cancer Causes and Control. Vol. 8. Sept. 1997, p. 722-728.

    4) In a 1994 study the government tried to suppress, federal researchers gave mice and rats massive doses of THC, looking for cancers or other signs of toxicity. The rodents given THC lived longer and had fewer cancers, "in a dose-dependent manner" (i.e. the more THC they got, the fewer tumors). NTP Technical Report On The Toxicology And Carcinogenesis Studies Of 1-Trans- Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, CAS No. 1972-08-3, In F344/N Rats And B6C3F Mice, Gavage Studies. See also, "Medical Marijuana: Unpublished Federal Study Found THC-Treated Rats Lived Longer, Had Less Cancer," AIDS Treatment News no. 263, Jan. 17, 1997.

    5) Federal researchers implanted several types of cancer, including leukemia and lung cancers, in mice, then treated them with cannabinoids (unique, active components found in marijuana). THC and other cannabinoids shrank tumors and increased the mice's lifespans. Munson, AE et al. Antineoplastic Activity of Cannabinoids. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Sept. 1975. p. 597-602.

  • 7

    Why on earth does anyone think it's acceptable to want to control certain behaviors, such as the bedroom habits or choice of poison of fully grown adults? Isn't it high time we evolved enough to get past this crap? Surely we need to accept, that the only way to truly be free, is that you agree, in return, to allow other people to be free, even if it offends your personal sensibilities. What's more; if it's not directly hurting you and you forbid it, then you can be sure that it will create unforeseen circumstances, which WILL have an adverse affect on YOUR wellbeing! -- Actually, a large proportion of those arising circumstances may not come as such a surprise to those of us who are capable of paying due attention to historical precedent.

    Based on the unalterable proviso that drug use is essentially an unstoppable and ongoing human behavior which has been with us since the dawn of time, any serious reading on the subject of past attempts at any form of drug prohibition would point most normal thinking people in the direction of sensible regulation.

    By its very nature, prohibition cannot fail but create a vast increase in criminal activity, and rather than preventing society from descending into anarchy, it actually fosters an anarchic business model - the international Drug Trade. Any decisions concerning quality, quantity, distribution and availability are then left in the hands of unregulated, anonymous and ruthless drug dealers, who are interested only in the huge profits involved. Thus, the allure of this reliably and lucrative industry, with it's enormous income potential that consistently outweighs the risks associated with the illegal operations that such a trade entails, will remain with us until we are collectively forced to admit the obvious.

    A great many of us are slowly but surely wising up to the fact that the best avenue towards realistically dealing with drug use and addiction is through proper regulation which is what we already do with alcohol & tobacco, clearly two of our most dangerous mood altering substances. But for those of you whose ignorant and irrational minds traverse a fantasy plane of existence, you will no doubt remain sorely upset with any type of solution that does not seem to lead to your absurd and unattainable utopia of a drug free society.

    There is therefore an irrefutable connection between drug prohibition and the crime, corruption, disease and death it causes. Anybody 'halfway bright', and who's not psychologically challenged, should be capable of understanding that it is not simply the demand for drugs that creates the mayhem, it is our refusal to allow legal businesses to meet that demand. If you are not capable of understanding this connection then maybe you're using something far stronger than the rest of us. So put away your pipe, lock yourself away in a small room with some tinned soup and water, and try to crawl back into reality A.S.A.P.

    Because Drug cartels will always have an endless supply of ready cash for wages, bribery and equipment, no amount of tax money, police powers, weaponry, wishful thinking or pseudo-science will make our streets safe again. Only an end to prohibition can do that! How much longer are you willing to foolishly risk your own survival by continuing to ignore the obvious, historically confirmed solution?

    If you support the Kool-Aid mass suicide cult of prohibition, and erroneously believe that you can win a war without logic and practical solutions, then prepare yourself for even more death, tortured corpses, corruption, terrorism, sickness, imprisonment, economic tribulation, unemployment and the complete loss of the rule of law.

    "A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded."
    Abraham Lincoln

    The only thing prohibition successfully does is prohibit regulation & taxation while turning even our schools and prisons into black markets for drugs. Regulation would mean the opposite!

  • 8

    According to today's Detroit Free Press apparently these medical marijuana clinics were selling to everyone and their brother. If people need to use marijuana for medical purposes it needs to dispensed through a registered pharmacy. Allowing clinics to pop up everywhere to dispense marijuana is a bad idea and ripe for abuse.

  • 9

    Some people believe that the freedom that is their right to have - a freedom that they believe is worth fighting for - is the freedom to tell other people what to do in their homes, whether alone or with other consenting adults, and even though the activity does not involve minors or unwilling participants. They see themselves as saving civilization from a theoretical terrible outcome should they desist in their efforts to curtail the freedoms of others.

    The one thing that they know for sure is this: as long as they have an intimidating armed force on their side, their freedom is assured. Achieving the freedom not to be hassled by them is perceived as a curtailment on their own freedom.

    Many who believe in the freedom to use marijuana without facing an imposed penalty also believe that we are around the corner from granting that freedom. They base that belief on the extraordinarily timid progress made thus far through medical marijuana initiatives. Yet, it is entirely possible that this period of liberalization is just the calm before the next storm. A very large industry has been built on behalf of the war on marijuana. Such a large industry is not going to go away without a very substantial fight.

    There can be no doubt that those who adamantly support the war on pot are simply waiting for the political winds to change once more. Once that happens, they will step up their efforts even more. By that time, the police will be even more well-armed and tactics will be more militarized. Also, there will be better technologies for prosecuting the war and likely a further erosion of constitutional rights protecting individuals from overuse of the state's right to take their money and/or put them in a cage. Proponents of the anti-weed agenda will be able to claim even greater victories, thus suggesting that we are so close to winning the war that to abandon it now would be a travesty. I would not be at all surprised if they advocate a surge.

    Unless the majority can believe there is a benefit to themselves (i.e. - the nation) for ending the war on marijuana, it will continue. With regard to marijuana, only production of industrial hemp can offer a large, tangible benefit that is not based exclusively on millions of people getting stoned fairly regularly. Current efforts to legalize marijuana are relying on the argument that the taxes that sales will generate will make up for the economic benefits lost from ending the war on marijuana. What is overlooked is that the tax benefit in that scenario is based on people becoming intoxicated. It's hardly different than suggesting we improve the tax situation by getting drunk more often. Industrial hemp provides revenue of all sorts that depends on people being industrious and producing items that anyone can use - even a child.

    As long as it is illegal to consume marijuana as one would a beer, it is unlikely that efforts to build a hemp industry will gain much traction. Though some progress has been made in making marijuana more acceptable legally, all by highlighting the medicinal effects of marijuana, it does not address the main problem that people cannot choose to consume marijuana as they would a beer. Without that freedom, there will always be tremendous profits from black market trade, thus there will always be a substantial black market and thus there will always be a war on marijuana users.

  • 10

    For those of you who support medical marijuana, care giver and patients' rights, civil rights, the choice to obtain your lawful medication from a clean, safe, and knowledgeable source... PLEASE COME SHOW YOUR SUPPORT ON THURSDAY 9-2-10 NOON AT THE FERNDALE COURTHOUSE as individuals associated with CLINICAL RELIEF appear before the court. Your respectful and visible presence is appreciated!

  • 11

    Not sure if any of you have also looked into what is going on in Colorado but the Feds are saying they are going to go after not only collectives, grow houses and even state officials in the marijuana field. It is really scary. Our team at Michigan Medical Marijuana Evaluations
    is working hard with the and Michigan Medical Marijuana Association to raise money to protect our rights. I work with patients every day who need this medicine- to say it is "silly" is so sad to me. Please everyone if Colorado is being attacked Michiagan is on the way too.

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