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 · Archie Kiel found guilty
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Archie Kiel found guilty

Anne Stanton - July 26th, 2010
Pot Farmer Archie Kiel Found Guilty
By Anne Stanton
Archie Kiel—whose story and photos in Northern Express triggered a
raid by the Traverse Narcotics Team nearly a year ago—was found guilty
in a jury trial for the manufacture of less than 20 marijuana plants.
The normal prison term for the charge is four years, but the maximum
is double that for Kiel since he was convicted once of a drug-related
misdemeanor.  It could have been worse. He was originally charged with
more than 20 plants, which carries a maximum of 14 years.
Kiel remained upbeat in a phone interview from his Rapid City home.
“I don’t do negative, you know that. It’s all good,” he said.  “You’ve
gotta have blind faith and stay positive. Today is the first day of
the rest of your life, so take it forward. It took me years of
self-training and meditation, and it works.”
Kiel is hopeful an appeal will be successful. Otherwise his way of
life, with friends flowing into his home decorated with smiley faces,
donating ingredients for marijuana cookies and helping him process
cannabis oil for cancer patients, will come to an abrupt end.
Kiel’s attorney, Ross Hickman, plans to file a motion for a new trial
this week based on information shared by an 86-year-old man who sat on
the jury and was excused from deliberating on the case (13 jurors
heard the case; only 12 are needed to deliberate). He told marijuana
advocate Reverend Steve Thompson and others in the courtroom that the
jurors were talking among themselves prior to deliberation—a violation
of court rules.
“He came over and sat down and talked to us just before the jury went
into deliberation. He said the jurors had discussed the case amongst
themselves almost immediately and what they were discussing was that
nobody knew the law and they wanted a copy of the law. How are they
going to make the decision if they don’t even know what the law says?
That’s just wrong,” said Thompson, president of Michigan NORML and the
Benzie County NORML chapter.

Kiel arrived for the jury trial in a t-shirt and back brace for the
trial, which was attended by about 30 supporters from around the
state. At issue was whether he possessed more than the legal amount of
marijuana for himself and his four patients. Under Michigan law, the
authorized provider of marijuana—called a caregiver—can grow no more
than 12 plants per patient, who must obtain a medical marijuana card.
When Kiel was raided last August 13, he could only show police proof
of three medical marijuana cards. He had no cards for two other
patients—his son and another woman–but he presented proof of their
applications signed by physicians.
The police took 34 of the largest plants, and left him with 36 smaller
plants for the registered patients.
Under Section 4 of the Michigan Marijuana Law, a patient or caregiver
can’t be arrested, much less prosecuted, if they abide by the full
letter of the law—that is, they possess a caregiver or patient card,
are using the marijuana strictly for medicinal purposes, and possess
no more than what the law requires (2.5 ounces or 12 plants per
patient). A patient is considered legal 20 days after sending an
application into the state.
But there’s another section in the law, which is called an affirmative
defense (Section 8). It says that a caregiver or patient is allowed an
evidentiary hearing if they meet three conditions: They have a bona
fide relationship with a physician, they possess an amount of
marijuana that allows for an interrupted flow of medicine, and they
use marijuana only for medical purposes.

Yet in Kiel’s two-day trial, July 15-16, his defense attorney was not
allowed to use the affirmative defense. Judge Janet Allen of the 46th
Circuit had rejected this argument in an earlier hearing in May when
Hickman filed a motion to dismiss the case.
She concluded, after reading the entire law, that Section 8
“nullifies” Section 4, which requires a caregiver card, according to a
tape of the hearing.
“Otherwise people could go to a physician, get that letter and be good
to go. I don’t think that’s a proper interpretation,” she said at the
Allen decided to ban discussion of the affirmative defense in the jury
trial after a discussion in chambers with Hickman and Kalkaska
Prosecutor Brian Donnelly, out of sight of the courtroom and jury. She
told the Express after the trial that the chambers’ discussion is
taped and available to the public upon request. She said the
conversation was out of bounds to potential jurors, who sat in the
courtroom;  she didn’t want to have to dismiss them from the
But that confused and angered those in the courtroom who believed it
was a significant decision, made out of sight from themselves and
journalists. They also didn’t understand why the jurors couldn’t
receive a copy of the law.
 In fact, a judge is mandated to interpret the law for jurors,
explaining it in simple terms as dictated by standard jury
instructions. But the Medical Marijuana Law is so new it doesn’t yet
have jury instructions. Also, the judge has the prerogative of
instructing the legal team not to discuss certain aspects of the law.

A case with a similar ruling was recently heard by the state Court of
Appeals, involving an Oakland County couple, Robert Redden and Torey
Clark, who may each face a maximum of 14 year in prison. Police broke
down their door with a battering ram and seized 21 plants in March of
2009. The couple had written certifications from a licensed physician
for serious medical conditions, but neither had caregiver cards. The
Circuit Court judge ruled the couple wasn’t entitled to the
affirmative defense because it didn’t comply with the three provisions
under Section 4.
The Court of Appeals is expected to make a decision on this within the
next few weeks. The defense team obtained an affidavit from Karen
O’Keefe, a principal drafter of the Michigan law, who said the law was
written with two levels of protection—one for patients and caregivers
who comply with the full letter of the law, and a lesser level of
protection for those who fall short.
“The greater level of protection (Section 4) is meant for people who
are registered with the state and have no more than 2.5 ounces or 12
plants. We intended for them to be immune from arrest under state law.
The lesser level of protection was intended for people whose conduct
is not wholly covered by Section 4. For example, we meant for its
protection to extend to patients who may have a medical need for more
marijuana or who may not be registered. We intended for them to be
protected from being convicted, but not from being arrested, she said”
The purpose of the affirmative defense, she wrote, was to “prevent a
person with a serious illness and a doctor’s recommendation from being
incarcerated for using their medicine, which would be a waste of
taxpayer money and cause unnecessary suffering.”
Either way the Court of Appeals decides, it will very likely go to the
state Supreme Court for a final ruling, Mullen said.
“We are obviously awaiting the court of appeals decision because it
may very well decide Archie’s case,” Hickman said.

An important part of Kiel’s case involved a Michigan State University
botanist’s testimony that a “plant” has actual roots. Otherwise, it’s
considered a cutting. Kiel claimed that 21 of the 70 plants were
This ruling caused the jury to find him guilty of less than 20 plants,
but it will very likely result in the destruction of plants in future
medical marijuana arrests in order to ascertain whether a plant has
roots, Donnelly said.
“They’ll have to pull up all the guy’s plants, thanks to Archie, to
make sure we don’t end up with a claim they aren’t rooted. It’s really
sad. What am I going to say to the next Archie? What a shame,”
Donnelly said.
Donnelly applauded the guilty verdict, saying it was supported by the
evidence.  “I am not unsympathetic to the cause, but the way it’s
playing out, it’s a shabby business. It’s just too bad. They’re doing
a disservice to people who could benefit by this law.”
Bob Heflin, who leads meetings for the Traverse City Compassion club,
said taxpayers are the real losers in this case. Tens of thousands
were spent, including the helicopter fly-over, court staff, police
salaries, and ultimately imprisonment of Kiel for up to eight years at
$35,000 or more per year.
“For what?  So we can throw a guy in prison for less than 20 cannabis
plants which no one denies were being grown for medical marijuana
patients?  No wonder taxpayers are outraged and disgusted.  Michigan
voters should remember this case when they vote for judges and
prosecutors this fall,” Heflin said.

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