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The Press and Wyoming’s Medical Marijuana decision

November 15, 2010

(This article was submitted by Joe Spaulding.)

When Jack Poll, the current Mayor of Wyoming, was running for election in 2009, the Grand Rapids Press editorial board gave him their endorsement, sighting, among other things, his opposal to the city’s notorious “crash tax.” The fees dispensed to anyone who was unfortunate enough to get in an accident within the city limits, regardless of who was at fault, were massively unpopular, nationally ridiculed, and laughingly unprofitable.

The fees were repealed within a year-and-a-half of being passed. Getting rid of them was a no-brainer, and the Press wasn’t sticking its neck out too far in supporting Poll for mayor. Unfortunately, Poll and the Wyoming city council have not learned from the mistakes of the recent past, and due to the Press’ cozy relationship with Poll, they have failed to take him to task for this.

On November 1, the GR Press published two articles discussing the state of Michigan’s recently passed medical marijuana law in terms of the City of Wyoming. The first described a Wyoming man, licensed by the state to be a medical marijuana patient and caregiver, who had his house broken into and plants and other property stolen in October. Due to the city’s ambiguous stance on the state’s law, he was reluctant to call the Wyoming Police to report the incident. Perhaps he was right to have his doubts. In an extravagant display of blaming the victim, as well as a hopelessly distorted view of public safety, Wyoming Police Chief James Carmody has stated that these types of robberies are a reason for the city to adopt a ban on medical marijuana.

The second Press article came a little later on in the evening, and was posted to It announced the city council’s decision to ban medical cannabis use, growing, and distribution in Wyoming city limits. The Press quoted Poll as saying “There’s a right way to do it. The state of Michigan did this the wrong way.” The article also mentions that the City Attorney stated fears that the city would be sued for being out of compliance with state law. Here is where the newspaper drops the ball. Instead of using tools available to anyone on the Internet (especially in Chile) to examine the validity of the City Attorney’s claims, the Press let his statement hang in the air as if the city’s ban has a 50/50 chance of surviving a court challenge. Within ten days, a Wyoming resident stepped up to sue the city over the obviously illegal ban.

The law, passed by the majority of Michigan voter’s (and 27 out of 28 districts in Wyoming), allows for any patient or caregiver charged with marijuana related legal violations to have those charges dismissed once his or her medical marijuana license is presented in court. Now that the city has banned medical cannabis, Poll is in a double bind – either he doesn’t encourage the arrest and prosecution of medical pot growers and patients, and the only effect the council has is discouraging otherwise law abiding citizens from assisting the already cash-strapped and over-burdened police, or the law faces challenge after challenge in court until it is innevitably overturned, costing the citizens of Wyoming thousands of dollars they do not have.

The other thing the Press failed to do was to hold Poll accountable for his evident disdain for Michigan’s initiative process (and by extension the voters and possibly the democratic process), as well as his doubts about the ability of the citizens of Wyoming (and probably all of Michigan) to determine what is best for their future. Poll talks about the medical cannabis law like it was passed by the Michigan legislature, and the Press never reminds its readers that the law is the will of the people of Michigan. Maybe the Press was afraid of looking like they were flip-flopping within a year of endorsing Poll for mayor. The end result being the will of 17,888 voters getting temporarily overturned by six city council members, and the cash-strapped,  job-starved citizens of Wyoming being left paying for court costs of trials with forgone conclusions.


5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 15, 2010 10:02 pm

    “Perhaps he was right to have his doubts. In an extravagant display of blaming the victim, as well as a hopelessly distorted view of public safety, Wyoming Police Chief James Carmody has stated that these types of robberies are a reason for the city to adopt a ban on medical marijuana.”

    Why is this type of logic always used for marijuana but never for guns, alcohol, inter-office rape, harassment, telephone harassment, abused prescription drugs, etc. ?

  2. Jack permalink
    November 16, 2010 12:42 am

    The press haven’t done their job in 40+ years. Now we have 6 corporations that control 90% of the news and information that a typical American consumes. We no longer have freedom of the press. And the handful of news that DO report the facts get ridiculed as ‘conspiracy theorists’. So I say fuck the press. Citizen journalism is the last hope.

  3. November 16, 2010 12:42 am

    Damn I forgot to post the link for the 6 corporations that control almost everything you read and hear…

  4. Haight permalink
    November 16, 2010 7:08 pm

    This sucks! How dare Wyoming take our right to medical weed away! The world would be so much better if we would all just chill and blaze one. Bet war would stop if Obama and Bin Laden got together and smoked a bowl.

    October 2, 2012 6:15 pm


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