2018-08-12 / News

Sparsely-attended forum addresses marijuana issues

BY NICHOLAS PUGLIESE
810-452-2601 • npugliese@mihomepaper.com


The presentation Thursday evening was led by Craig A. Summers, executive director of the Michigan High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a drug-prohibition enforcement program run by the United States Office of National Drug Control Policy. 
Photo by Nicholas Pugliese The presentation Thursday evening was led by Craig A. Summers, executive director of the Michigan High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a drug-prohibition enforcement program run by the United States Office of National Drug Control Policy. Photo by Nicholas Pugliese LAPEER — Thursday evening saw the auditorium of Lapeer High School play host to a Families Against Narcotics (FAN)-sponsored informational forum about the dangers of legalizing recreational marijuana.

The forum was presented by Craig A. Summers, executive director of the Michigan High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).

According to Peggy Patten, president of FAN, purpose of the forum was purely informational. “We just want people to educate themselves about the ballot proposal that will appear in November,” she said. “This is not to persuade people one way or the other.”

Summers shared information gleaned from data sourced from states that have legalized the use of recreational marijuana, such as Colorado. The state of Colorado legalized recreational use in November of 2012 for people over the age of 21 — allowing for the possession, use and transfer of one ounce, the growing of up to six plants and allowed for commercial activity related to marijuana.

Summers, a former assistant police chief in the metro Detroit area for nearly three decades, spoke to the crowd of a dozen attendees. “I’m speaking as a law enforcement officer with 35 years in the business,” he said. “My whole goal here tonight is to provide information and resources on a topic I feel I’m pretty knowledgeable about.”

Summers warned of possible increase in marijuana related traffic incidents, usage among youth and people seeking substance abuse treatment as potential pitfalls associated with legalization of recreational marijuana. “More objective research is needed,” said Summers. “Colorado is four or five years ahead of Michigan. We’re in the process here in Michigan of the commercialization of the medical part.”

According to Summers, tax revenue in Colorado from retail sales of recreational marijuana totaled $127 million dollars in 2016, and taxes generated from sales of medical marijuana created nearly $13 million in revenue in the same year. Of that revenue, said Summers, $40 million is earmarked for schools.

Summers said 2009 was a “key year” in Colorado’s push for recreational use, referring to Ogden Memorandum, which stated that while the federal government still considers marijuana an illicit substance, federal resources will not be focused on individuals using medical marijuana in states in which it is allowed. “Basically what happened in Colorado is it was a federal ‘hands-off,’ and the floodgates opened,” he said.

According to Summers, more research is needed to see the impact the commercialization of marijuana has on various areas of society, including usage rates among citizens, effects on the workplace, treatment admissions and environmental impacts.

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