The progress continues………..
As everyone in the medical marijuana community knows, our law has been hijacked, manipulated, and disrespected by a large majority of prosecuting attorneys and law enforcement officers. The case has been no different in Gaylord.
After many years of operating in a community that welcomed dispensaries with open arms, it all changed in May. Mass raids were conducted on all 8 medical marijuana dispensaries in one day, undercover narcotic teams storming the dispensaries looking for one thing and one thing only……the money!
It’s been the same story in many communities, with the same results over and over. Legal caregivers trying to help patients, being turned into criminals. Threats of severe sentences, felony convictions, and property seized due to unjust civil asset forfeiture laws generally leads to plea bargains, fines, and a criminal record.
We refused to stand for that kind of treatment. Protest ensued, many articles were written, and interviews were given to the local paper to educate the community on the truth of what had happened. An overzealous prosecutor working with Straits Area Narcotics Enforcement (SANE) to cripple and legally rob the dispensaries of Gaylord. Since then, we have worked with the Cannabis Stakeholders Group, formed the Committee for a Safer Gaylord, and drafted a petition initiative to allow medical marijuana provisioning centers in Gaylord. The response in the community was overwhelming. In a short few weeks, the number of signatures needed was obtained. The petition was turned in but the city attorney spoke out against it, citing case law that says petitions can’t change zoning ordinances. However, the petition wasn’t discounted entirely due to the mayor and city councilmen of Gaylord stepping up and stating this isn’t about Chad, Al, or any dispensary owner; it’s about the community members that spoke up and clearly want something to be done to ensure protection of the city’s dispensaries.
Most recently, there was a city planning commission meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 4th that discussed the topic of dispensaries in Gaylord. We were somewhat nervous going in, but we left with a feeling of joy and accomplishment.
Our planning commission voted unanimously for an open hearing to hear public comment on the topic, with the intentions of moving forward on an ordinance. One of the Commissioners said, ” I keep hearing the term pro-active…and that’s exactly what we need to be.” The city manager followed up by suggesting that being pro-active is the right approach and that maybe at the public hearing we should mention a recreational ordinance as well. We may have gone from baby steps to leaps and bounds of progress.
One thing is for sure: Gaylord was safe for years then that feeling was stolen from the people. But rest assured, the feeling of safety is returning.
I encourage everyone reading this to try the same approach; work with your city council, educate the public, and watch the fear and stigmas disappear. If there’s one thing I learned, it’s that no progress will happen when we hide in the shadows. In the process of all this, my partner and I opened a brand new dispensary in Gaylord and went on the front page of the local paper announcing our grand opening. And the result: more support, more thanks, and more confirmation that we’re doing the right thing here.
And one last thing, feel free to look me up on facebook, if you think your community could benefit and this is something you would like to organize in your town as well, I’m more than happy to help guide you in the direction to get this started. If you can make it to Gaylord and attend the public hearing on Dec. 2nd, please do so. Not only is the support great to have, it would also serve as a great learning experience.
We will prevail. Stay safe and stay medicated!!