A Letter from Michael Komorn 4-29-15

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As always, there is so much important material to highlight and share with those who are interested in all of our favorite topics: medical cannabis, cannabis reform, United States citizens’ constitutional protections, the art of lawyering and trial practice, and industrial hemp research and development. The month of April 2015 was exciting and we hope you enjoy some of the highlights.

The 44th Annual Hash Bash of 2015

The first Saturday of April in Ann Arbor is always reserved for Hash Bash. More than 8,000 people showed up for this year’s event. In what has truly turned into a political and freedom rally, this year was no different and the guests and speakers exemplified this spirit. Friend and fellow Cannabis Reform activist Jim Powers and his young son Ryan, a cannabis patient, were the lead off speakers, setting a tone that this was not your momma’s hash bash. Amongst the diversity of speakers were several patients…each telling their miracle stories of how cannabis improved their medical conditions; one even stating it cured their cancer. Political Leaders were in abundance as well. Friend and one of the few politicians anyone can say that they like, Jeff Irwin of Michigan’s House of Representatives was there. In addition, Ann Arbor’s Mayor Sabra Briere, Lansing’s Mayor Virg Bernero, Comedian/Actor/Activist Tommy Chong, and John Sinclair spoke at the event.

Many People probably don’t understand the history and significance of Hash Bash. Hash Bash is an annual event held in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on the first Saturday of April…at high noon on the University of Michigan’s Diag. A collection of speeches, live music, street vending and occasional civil disobedience are centered on the goal of reforming federal, state, and local marijuana laws. The first Hash Bash was held on Saturday, April 1, 1972 in response to the March 9th, 1972 decision by the Michigan Supreme Court declaring the law it used to convict cultural activist John Sinclair for possession of two marijuana joints unconstitutional. This action left the State of Michigan without a law prohibiting the use of marijuana until after the weekend of April 1, 1972.

The John Sinclair case, albeit a 1972 opinion, is still good law in Michigan and one would think would be a good case to rely upon to truly reform the current hypocritical and arcane crimes for the growth, use and possession of marihuana. In the meantime Komorn Law cited and relied upon this case often in our amicus curiae brief we filed before the Michigan Supreme Court in the matters currently pending; People v. Tutttle and People v. Hartwick arguing amongst other things that Marijuana is not and cannot be a schedule 1 controlled substance under Michigan law.

Reference Links to these Cases can be found here:

Link to the video of the arguments.

An audio recording of oral arguments before Michigan Supreme Court concerning “People vs. John Sinclair” can be found here
People v. Sinclair, 379 Mich. 91 (1972)

Here are some of the compelling findings in that case:

The Michigan Supreme Court has made findings of fact that are relevant here. “It cannot be doubted that the judiciary has the power to determine the true state of facts upon which a (in this case marijuana) law is based.” People v. Sinclair, 379 Mich. 91 (1972) citing Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483, 74 S.Ct. 686, 98 L.Ed. 873 (1954). The Michigan Supreme Court in Sinclair addressed the issue of the rationality of the State’s marijuana laws and held:

Comparison of the effects of marijuana use on both the individual and society with the effects of other drug use demonstrates not only that there is no rational basis for classifying marijuana with the ‘hard narcotics’, but, also, that there is not even a rational basis for treating marijuana as a more dangerous drug than alcohol.” Sinclair, 379 Mich. at 103. “No physical dependency is produced by use of the drug and, hence, there are no withdrawal symptoms or ‘abstinence syndrome’ when the drug is unavailable to the user. No lethal dose for marijuana has been established… the evidence available concerning marijuana’s effect on psychomotor functions seems to show very little impairment, at least in experienced users. Id. At 107.
There is no reliable scientific evidence demonstrating that chronic psychosis can be caused by marijuana use in dramatic contrast to the American experience with alcohol.  The argument that marijuana use causes or contributes to assaultive crime is now largely discredited.  Again by contrast, considerable evidence points to a substantial connection between alcohol use and commission of violent crimes.  Finally, the ‘stepping stone argument’ that marijuana use leads to use of ‘hard narcotics’ has no scientific basis. Id at 110. (internal citations omitted).

The Michigan Supreme Court went on to hold: “The murky atmosphere of ignorance and misinformation which casts its pall over the State and Federal legislatures’ original classification of marijuana with the hard narcotics has been well documented… We can no longer allow the residuals of that early misinformation to continue choking off a rational evaluation of marijuana… The truth compels us to conclude at the minimum that marijuana has been erroneously classified with the opiates….” Id at 114-15 (emphasis added). Or as a concurring Justice noted, “Possession of a natural growing plant can hardly be malum in se (evil in and of itself). Id at 152. The court reversed Sinclair’s conviction as violative of equal protection because of the irrational classification of marijuana and the cruel and unusual nature of the excessive punishment.

Marijuana is not and cannot be a schedule 1 controlled substance under Michigan law. Thank you John Sinclair.

Another stand out from Hash Bash 2015 was Lansing’s Mayor Virg Benero, who took to the podium and led the crowd in a new version of “Free the Weed.” While standing before what would normally be an unfriendly Ann Arbor crowd, the Lansing Mayor let it be known that he has had a revelation. As he stated to the crowd “I realize now that war on marihuana is a war on people. I realize now that when this crowd chants, “free the weed,” what you are really saying is free the people. So then….will you join me-when I say free the weed, you say free the People.”

komorn and virg berneroLansing Mayor Virg Benero – Taking a stand on Sanity – Hash Bash 2015

Attorney Michael Komorn – Speaks Out – Hash Bash 2015

Although I didn’t get a chance to get through my entire speech, I have posted a link here to the written version of my Hash Bash 2015 Komorn rant. Also it can be heard here in the PGT rant episode 244

Some pics from Hash Bash 2015:

komorn-gunnels-clement komorn-hash-bash-2015-2 komorn-hash-bash-2015-3 komorn-hash-bash-2015-4 komorn-rudoikomorn-hash-bash-2015