At least that’s the conclusion to be drawn from a recent forum held at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.
There were three panelists at the forum.
They all agreed that expungement of records for marijuana crimes is the biggest change they’d like to see in Michigan’s marijuana laws. Especially when it comes to Detroit.
But beyond that talking point, what was most confusing was that one of the panelists – whose name we won’t mention – said he saw no other good reason for legalizing marijuana for adult use.
It didn’t take long to see he was working from some serious misinformation on marijuana.
Recreational Marijuana Is Already Legal
The sole panelist spoke as though he were unaware of this fact.
While the other two people who sat on the panel – Royal Oak attorney Barton Morris and BotaniQ provisioning center co-owner Anqunette Jamison Sarfoh – are already involved with the cannabis industry.
In fact, Morris has spent 20 years defending those accused of marijuana offenses. And Sarfoh, a former news anchor, is in complete support of developing the cannabis industry.
Meanwhile, the other panelist – who’s considered a longtime political and community activist – kept arguing that he doesn’t support legalization of marijuana because he believes it’s a gateway drug.
Which just proves one thing:
Misinformation on Marijuana Continues to Thrive
The dissenting panelist based his not-so-original “gateway” assertion on his own personal story.
Long story short, he smoked marijuana in his youth while working in the cocaine-riddled entertainment industry. But he managed to hold off using cocaine himself.
Meanwhile, he kept smoking the ganja. And he’s convinced that doing so was what made it eventually feel okay for him to start using cocaine. From there, he developed a six-month cocaine addiction for which he was treated.
Since then, he has been adamantly against using marijuana. So much so that when he had cancer, he wouldn’t use it for fear of relapsing on cocaine.
And the misinformation keeps flowing.
“Voters Were Misled”
Armed with more misinformation, our third panelist added that Proposal 1 promised expungement for those who had certain related convictions and that voters were misled about this point.
Sarfoh had to step in and explain that expungement was never a component of Proposal 1 because an initiative can only address one issue. And in the case of Proposal 1, it was purely legalization.
Then when it came time for questions, a member of the audience asked about church ministers and their opposition to the industry’s development and pointed out how the church community is largely connected to the political community.
But our panelist insisted that ministers have no political power in Detroit – which we all know is pure dreck. And Barton Morris said as much.
He stated that churches most certainly do have influence, and that it has not been used to “ensure minority participation has been protected in the influence exercised by the church community.”
So Why Does Our Unnamed Panelist Matter?
Because he’s not alone. And he’s emblematic of a bigger problem.
Marijuana has been legalized. So now political and community leaders in Detroit need to step up and support the industry’s growth.
But among these leaders, there are those who are so blindly and doggedly opposed to all things marijuana, they’re not even taking the time to understand what the laws encompass.
For them, misinformation reigns. They figure that if they just ignore the facts, maybe they’ll go away.
This has been further confounded by strict zoning rules stating that marijuana businesses cannot be within 1,000 feet of a church. Considering the number of churches in Detroit, that’s a lot of forbidden territory. And it smacks of the organized church ministry’s opposition to marijuana.
And that’s too bad. Because Detroit has a lot to gain from embracing this industry.
But in order for marijuana businesses to thrive in Detroit, community leaders cannot be obstacles. They need to be informed and on board.
And that includes church ministers, who are heavyweights in the political arena – in spite of what our emblematic panelist believes. Or at least what he says he believes.
Put Your Cannabis Business in the Spotlight
If you currently have a cannabis business, you don’t have to let misinformation on marijuana negatively impact you.