Street Talk

Street Talk: Marijuana backers celebrate

Room at The Inn.

April 27, 2018
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Legalizing marijuana for adult use is now on the November ballot.

The Michigan State Board of Canvassers on April 26 approved the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol’s petition to place the initiative on the state’s November ballot.

The initiative would legalize marijuana possession and consumption for all adults 21 years and older. The possession limit would be capped at 2.5 ounces and a dozen marijuana plants. If approved by voters, Michigan would be the first state in the Midwest to legalize adult use of cannabis.

“Just like with alcohol, it is clear that prohibition doesn’t work and that regulation and taxation is a far better solution,” said John Truscott, president of Truscott Rossman and spokesperson for CRMLA.

The initiative also would:

  • License marijuana businesses that cultivate, process, test, transport and sell marijuana

  • Legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp used to make textiles, biodegradable plastics, food, construction materials and fuel

  • Protect consumers with proper testing and safety regulations for retail marijuana

  • Impose a 10 percent excise tax on marijuana sold in retail on top of the state’s 6 percent sales tax

  • Give local governments the option of whether they want to allow marijuana businesses in their community

Voter-initiated laws are required to collect 252,523 valid signatures to have an issue placed on the ballot. CRMLA submitted more than 365,000 signatures to the state Elections Bureau in November 2017. Elections Bureau staff estimate that more than 277,000 signatures were valid.

Other organizations supporting the coalition include the Marijuana Policy Project, the National Cannabis Industry Association, the ACLU of Michigan, the Drug Policy Alliance, the National Patients Rights Association and MILegalize.

“With polls showing nearly 60 percent of Michigan voters supporting legalization, it’s clear that the public is way ahead of the politicians on this issue,” said Jeffrey Hank, executive director of MILegalize. “The people are tired of the failed policies of the past and understand that creating reasonable, responsible regulations is the way forward to tens of thousands of new jobs and opportunities in Michigan.”

Not everyone is pleased with the board’s decision, however.

Plus, there’s the hurdle of state law skirting federal rules that classify marijuana as a Schedule I substance and deem it illegal.

“Federal law, whether we agree with it or not as individuals, must be upheld anywhere in the United States,” said Scott Greenlee, president of a coalition called Healthy and Productive Michigan. “Michigan can no more choose which federal laws it will observe than any county or city within Michigan could choose which state laws it will observe and enforce. Possession, cultivation or distribution of marijuana is against the law in the United States, and that should absolutely be the end of the discussion. This should not be on the ballot this November.”

Greenlee said pitting Michigan citizens against federal law could “compromise their safety, well-being and future.”

“We have been fed this false dichotomy that there are only two stances on this issue: incarceration or legalization,” he said. “We firmly believe there is a better alternative to incarceration, and that arrests are not occurring at the state level for marijuana possession or consumption. We know that there is a better way forward than legalization, and we must devote our time and resources to finding a path between the two extremes and allow this issue to be addressed on the federal level before legalizing recreational marijuana in our great state.”

Home free

Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital is working on the final phase of its $66.4-million expansion and renovation project.

The rehabilitation hospital has opened 10 additional rooms and renovated six existing rooms meant for out-of-town patients receiving care.

Expansion will begin soon for another six rooms, with completion expected next year, for a total of 22 rooms.

Housed in the Mary Ives Hunting Center on the corner of Lafayette Avenue and Wealthy Street, The Inn at Mary Free Bed is on the hospital’s downtown Grand Rapids campus.

The update includes fully accessible suites and rooms with flat-screen televisions, wireless internet access, phone, climate control and room-darkening blinds.

Universal access includes comfortable seating and tables that raise and lower; a kitchenette with an under-counter refrigerator; and an open bathroom with a shower that has a mounted seat, grab bars, an adjustable showerhead and no threshold.

The Mary Free Bed Professional Building is connected to the main hospital and Outpatient Therapy Center with a skywalk across Lafayette Avenue.

The inn also includes a community area with a computer workstation, dining area with microwaves, complimentary continental breakfast served daily and reserved parking.

In 2017, more than 3,700 people stayed at the inn. The expansion provides thousands of additional patients and families with convenient housing.

One of those patients was Nicholas Burrell, who travels each week for outpatient therapy from his home north of Shelby.

In January 2017, Burrell was scouting for a place to fish in an unfamiliar area when he fell through the ice. He developed such severe frostbite that doctors were forced to amputate both legs.

After spending several weeks at Mary Free Bed in the inpatient Amputee Program, he graduated to outpatient therapy and has been working with the Orthotics & Prosthetics + Bionics team on customized prosthetic legs.

The distance from his home makes staying at the inn a convenient option for Burrell and others who live far from Grand Rapids.

“Mary Free Bed is the best place for me, so I’m thankful the inn is here,” he said. “It’s nice and quiet, and the people here are helpful and understanding. I sleep well when I’m here.”

Sweet treat

A group of potential entrepreneurs paid SpartanNash a visit Thursday, but they needed rides to get there.

The grocery store chain welcomed about 30 children — the kids and grandkids of employees — to its headquarters for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.

SpartanNash Director of Human Resources Traci Donnelly organized the event.

Original plans called for Alina Morse, of Oakland County — the 12-year-old founder of Zollipops candy company — to pay a visit and deliver an inspirational message about dreaming big to her peers.

At the age of 7, Morse started the business and developed her line of sugar-free candy treats that “neutralize acid and reduce the risk of tooth decay and cavities.”

At the last minute, the girl wonder was unable to make it — but SpartanNash still revealed a piece of news about her products.

Joe McQuesten, SpartanNash vice president of center store merchandising, said the company will begin selling Zollipops in its corporate-owned stores in July.

Other retailers that carry the product line include Meijer, Kroger, Amazon, Costco and Whole Foods.

According to Morse’s website, Zollipops was the only candy company partner for the 2016 and 2015 White House Easter Egg Roll as part of former first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative.

Morse and Zollipops have been featured on “Good Morning America,” ABC News, Forbes, CNN and many other national shows and publications.

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