Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · Pot Shot
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Pot Shot

Anne Stanton - August 24th, 2009
Pot Shot
Northern Express articles trigger raid on medical marijuana grower

By Anne Stanton 8/24/09

About two weeks after appearing on the cover of Northern Express with his lush marijuana plants, Archie Kiel sat among the plants on his balcony chatting with a Kalkaska County Commissioner.
They noticed a helicopter flying low over the house -- so low that his plants started shaking. Kiel was about to call the police to complain when the police came to him. Police cars filled his driveway and about seven Traverse Narcotics Team officers walked up to his open door.
Kiel, who decided to go public in the Northern Express July 27 issue as a caregiver or supplier to medical marijuana patients, was about to be raided.
“They walked up with their hands on their guns and said they were checking into the fact that I was an illegal caregiver with too many plants,” Kiel said.
But the raid last Thursday was unlike anything anyone could recall in Michigan.
Kiel said the TNT officers were generally respectful after ascertaining that he owned no guns. Lt. Detective Kip Belcher, the director of TNT, asked to see Kiel’s paperwork.
Kiel had a state ID card for himself as a registered patient, as well as two caregiver cards. In addition, he had signed doctor’s recommendations for two additional patients, including his 20-year-old son, Dusty, who has a “blown spine and degenerative disk.” Both have their patient applications in process at the Department of Community Health.

The officers counted the plants on the balcony, and then asked to be shown to Kiel’s basement. Based on information in the Express article, they knew he had a hydroponic operation.
Belcher refused comment until Kiel enters a plea in the event charges are brought. But Kiel said that he thinks TNT decided to raid the house after looking at the article photos and concluding that the plants exceeded the legal limit. Kiel believes they erroneously concluded that the pot plants in one of the photos belonged to him; they were actually grown by “Dan,” another grower interviewed for the article. Kiel said that TNT officials repeatedly “interrogated” him about Dan and his identity.
After searching the house, Belcher concluded that Kiel was growing 66 plants and had six more that were harvested. As a patient and caregiver to two patients, he could legally own 36 plants. The medical marijuana law, approved by voters in November, allows 12 plants per person, whether as a patient or caregiver.
Kiel contended he could also own a total of 24 plants for the two patients who had their patient applications in process, but Belcher disagreed. Kalkaska County Prosecutor Brian Donnelly said that Belcher called him during the raid and asked him what to do with the plants -- destroy them all, or only those that were considered illegal.
“I thought, if he’s entitled to 36, then how do you give back the 36 plants if they’re destroyed? So I said, ‘Take pictures of those you are leaving, and at least we won’t have the public claiming we are meanies,’” Donnelly said in an interview.
Belcher left the harvested buds, explaining to Kiel that they were “medicine.”

The officers left without arresting or charging Kiel; however, Donnelly said that he will “probably” charge Kiel for the illegal manufacture of marijuana after he receives TNT’s report. Under state law, Kiel could face up to a half million dollar fine and seven years in prison for possessing more than 20 illegal plants.
Matthew Abel, an attorney for Michigan NORML, a group that advocates the legalization of marijuana, is now working on 15 cases throughout the state. The act, approved by voters in November, is still in its infancy.
In a case resembling Kiel’s, a couple in Madison Heights was charged with possessing 21 plants before receiving their state issued ID cards. Police discovered the plants after breaking down their front door with a battering ram on March 30. Torey Clark, who has ovarian cancer, and Bob Redden, who suffers from long-term hip pain, were found not guilty. Had the verdict come back guilty, they would have each faced up to 14 years in prison, according to a June 18 Detroit News article.
During the trial, the Oakland County judge called the Medical Marijuana Act the “worst piece of legislation” he had ever seen, the article said.
The couple used an “affirmative defense,” which is outlined in the law. Specifically, when facing prosecution, a patient or caregiver can assert they owned a “reasonable amount” of plants to assure an uninterrupted supply -- the number is not specified. The act allows possession of plants—prior to a caregiver card being issued -- if there is evidence of a physician’s statement that says marijuana will have a therapeutic or palliative benefit for the patient’s serious or debilitating medical condition.

Bob Heflin said he has no problem complimenting TNT for its fairness in dealing with Kiel. Heflin leads meetings at the TC Compassion Club, which familiarizes people with the law and helps connect patients with caregivers.
“This is unheard of -- where they raid and leave plants there. They apparently recognized that Archie was a registered patient and caregiver. They haven’t arrested him. They just confiscated the plants that TNT considered extra ...TNT is just doing its job to make sure people comply with the number of plants they should have. When Archie gets his caregiver status for his three additional patients, he can add more plants. So TNT is establishing a community standard, which reinforces the law.”
Kiel believes he was targeted because of the Express article, but doesn’t blame the paper for his troubles. Kiel said he has grown marijuana plants on his balcony for years with no problem with the law, and people flow in and out of his house throughout the day.
Kiel lives close to the poverty line and narrowly avoided a cut-off from his electricity after a friend wrote him a $100 check. He is three years behind in his property taxes, so he doesn’t know how he’ll afford a lawyer.
Kiel was shaken by the raid, saying some of the officers acted like they were “Gestapo” while others were polite.
He said he is very frustrated that people are having a difficult time getting their personal doctors to sign off on the state application, despite being diagnosed with a qualifying illness. His son, A.J., for example, was lying on the couch last week with a cast on his leg. He had jumped off a bridge for fun, hit a rock, and gouged off his kneecap. He’s been diagnosed with a spinal problem, but a doctor won’t give him a recommendation.

Kevin Weber, M.D., a Traverse City family doctor, said doctors are in a bind. Whether the patient is asking for prescription pain relievers or a medical marijuana recommendation, the doctor wants to trust the patient’s report of chronic pain, but doesn’t want to enable drug addiction.
The state is also failing to process applications within 21 days as mandated by law, in part, due to a machine malfunction (now fixed) that makes ID cards. One thousand people applied for applications in June alone, which equates to $100,000 in application fees.
“They have a backlog. They ought to put more staff on it, but Governor Granholm is not favorable toward medical marijuana. She hasn’t seen the tax advantages, where we can tax, legalize and regulate it,” Abel said.
Abel, Heflin and others say the law is gray, but it will gradually be defined by legal precedents. Cities may also take a proactive approach to the economic opportunities. In the city of Hazel Park, for example, the local government is looking to allow caregivers to join together in an organized cooperative, Abel said.
“They want people there to pay rent, use the hardware stores, spend money. That city is forward thinking,” Abel said.
Said Heflin: “Our next step is to come up with a local ordinance for the same kind of thing in Traverse City.”
Kiel, whose mantra is “be happy” was initially incensed over the raid. He has since calmed down and decided not to publicly protest. Yet friends and supporters are calling media and marijuana advocacy chapters all over the state and country.
Kiel contends that the TNT officers arrived without a search warrant, and also “targeted” him as a caregiver, which he believes is banned by the law. But officers don’t need a warrant if the homeowner willingly lets them in, Abel said.
A number of compassion chapters throughout Michigan said they would donate a plant to replace what was destroyed. But so far Kiel is saying no thank you.
“I’m going to stay completely legal and wait for the caregiver cards,” he said.

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