FLINT - The problem with Michigan's well-intentioned medical marijuana law, which affects more than 99,000 people, is that it's so vaguely written it's like an out-take from a "Cheech & Chong" movie.
Cheech: "So, dude, we gotta write a bill."
Chong: "A what?"
Cheech: "A bill, dude."
Chong: "I know that guy! He owes me money!"
Cheech: "No, a bill is like a baby law before it grows up. We gotta write one for Michigan. They wanna legalize pot for sick people."
Chong: "Right on!"
Cheech: "Only we gotta make sure that we don't upset The Man "
Chong: "I hate The Man! uh, by the way, who is The Man? I've never really been sure."
Cheech: "I dunno but whoever he is he's totally not a fan of our patron saint, Jeff Spicoli."
Chong: "Hallowed be his name!"
Cheech: "Right on, so if we're not careful in how we write this thing then The Man will convince people to not vote for it."
Chong: "Like, boooo!"
Cheech: "Totally, right? So what we gotta do is write the bill so it's not clear whether people can buy it or not."
Chong: "Right on! wait, if they can't buy it, where are people going to get a stash?"
Cheech: "Dude, chill. I got that covered. They can grow their own!"
Chong: "Awesome! er, wait. But what if "
Cheech: "What if what, dude?"
Cheech: "What if what? You didn't finish your sentence."
Chong: "Oh, right, I blanked out there. So what about people who are too sick or poor to grow their own? Grow lights are expensive, dude, you know that. They suck a lotta power."
Cheech: "See, that's the beauty of making things fuzzy. If we write this thing bad enough people won't be able to tell for sure if they can or can't buy pot at a store, so naturally stores will pop up all over the place to sell it until someone tells them not to."
Cheech: "I know, right!"
The problem, of course, is that someone has indeed now told grow shops not to sell pot. Last week the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that a "dispensary" in Mt. Pleasant had no authority to sell it under the medical marijuana law because the law didn't expressly allow it to do so.
Result: Dispensaries all over the state closed pending clarification, which may not seem like a big deal to you, but then you don't have stomach cancer, Parkinson's or glaucoma.
Imagine being sick and one of the few substances that gives you relief is now suddenly, once again, difficult to get. What are you going to do?
Well, obviously, you're going to go without. (So much for compassion, eh, voters?) Or you're going to go back to whatever illicit source you used prior to the 2008 vote that created the medical marijuana law in the first place.
Is that really what we want - sick people hurting or once again at the mercy of dealers? If you answer yes, here's what I want to know:
What have you been smoking, dude?
EDITOR'S NOTE - Andy Heller, an award-winning columnist for The Flint Journal, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. For more of his work, visit his blog at blog.mlive.com/flintjournal/aheller. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.