Monroe County Community College hosted the panel discussion Tuesday as part of its Culture and Community Affairs Speaker Series.
A panel discussion aimed at sharing the pros and cons of Michigan’s recreational marijuana ballot issue was hosted by Monroe County Community College.
Officials both for and against Proposal 1 discussed the legislation which would legalize the possession, use and cultivation of marijuana products by those who are at least 21 years old, according to ballot language.
The hour-long panel took place about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Audrey M. Warrick Student Services and Administration Building. MCCC President Kojo A. Quartey served as the discussion’s moderator, with guests including students, faculty and members of the community.
“We are an educational community, and when there are issues of this nature, there needs to be somewhere to present unbiased views,” Quartey said. “I know this is a contentious issue… The job is to convince those who really aren’t sure where they stand.”
The panel was part of the college-sponsored Culture and Current Affairs Speakers Series which features a variety of cultural, political or social topics of interest.
Panelists consisted of three representatives speaking in support of Proposal 1 and four in opposition.
Those in favor included Michael Komorn, president of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association (MMMA) and a Farmington Hills attorney; Steve Miller, a representative from the Law Enforcement Action Partnership ( LEAP) and retired Canton Township police sergeant; and Jesse Riggs, also a representative of the MMMA and a former United Auto Workers (UAW) member.
Those opposed included Michael G. Roehrig, Monroe County chief assistant prosecutor, with Lauren Beaudry, the county’s assistant prosecutor assigned to drug possession cases; Quri Wygonik, an MCCC institutional research coordinator; and Randy Richardville, a former Republican state Senate majority leader and spokesperson for Healthy and Productive Michigan.
The opposition had one more member than those in favor because Roehrig was assisted by Beaudry, but both represented the prosecutor’s office.
Several heated discussion points were introduced by audience members or sparked among debate between the panelists.
Following are the opinions presented among three key topics — children, law enforcement and impairment — throughout the panel.
Increased marijuana use among both youth and young adults was an issue raised by those opposed to legalizing recreational marijuana.
“I am opposed to this both personally and professionally,” said opponent Roehrig who is a father to four daughters. “This legislation targets children.”
The opposition predicts lowered IQ rates, more school suspensions and higher college dropout rates, if Proposal 1 is successful. They also said potent edibles shaped like gummy bears, cookies or other sweet treats wrongly appeal to a young market.
Backers disagreed citing the issue’s ballot language indicates one must be at least 21 years old to use recreational marijuana.
“No one in support of this ballot issue is suggesting that children should use (marijuana),” supporter Komorn said. “It’s designed for adults only.”
A police officer for more than 20 years, supporter Miller said law enforcement should focus its time and resources on more serious drug offenses than marijuana use, possession or delivery.
“It’s time to stop wasting law enforcement resources… on marijuana,” Miller said. “I have never witnessed any harms or dangers as it relates to marijuana.”
Those opposed disagreed, arguing that drug related offenses only will increase with the legalization of recreational marijuana and create a need for increased law enforcement.
According to the ballot language, those 21 or older would be allowed to recreationally possess or sell up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. Up to 10 ounces would be allowed to be kept in a private residence.
″(There will be) people walking around with big bags of dope with intent to sell,” opponent Richardville said.
TESTING LEVEL OF IMPAIRMENT
One question proposed by an audience member asked officials how recreational marijuana impairment would be tested and regulated, should the ballot issue pass.
“We don’t have rapid detection methods, and we don’t have a point that’s equal to blood alcohol level,” opponent Wygonik said, citing previous research she conducted on opioids and marijuana. Her opinion was given as a researcher, not as a representative of MCCC.
Opponents predicted increased numbers of traffic accidents and workplace injuries due to recreational marijuana, while backers said measures already are in place to identify impaired drivers and employees.
A marijuana field sobriety test would not be necessary, according to supporters, because law enforcement would be able to visually identify impaired drivers and blood tests would reveal those driving or working under the influence.
“There are union contracts in place and trainings available to identify someone who is under the influence,” supporter Riggs said. “This is something already in place that I don’t think we need to worry about with this issue.”
Video excerpt from the discussion:
Komorn Law has represented numerous clients through the legal chaos of starting up a business in the Michigan Medical Marihuana Industry as well as consulting and legal representation for Medical Maruhuana Patients and Caregivers.
If you or someone you know has been arrested as a result of Medical Marijuana, DUI, Drugs, Forfeiture, Criminal Enterprise or any other criminal charges please contact our office and ensure you’re defended by an experienced lawyer.
Attorney Michael Komorn is recognized as an expert on the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. He is the President of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association (MMMA), a nonprofit patient advocacy group which advocates for the rights of medical marijuana patients and their caregivers.
Contact us for a free no-obligation case evaluation 800-656-3557.
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