Medical cannabis laws are great and it makes sense that a supermajority of American voters support medicinal use. However, medical laws don’t go far enough to prevent the unnecessary arrest and prosecution of nonviolent citizens that shouldn’t have their freedom taken away for their medicinal use. Many people on a fixed income can’t afford the doctors visit and licensing fees that it costs to be a registered patient. When patients are battling severe and debilitating medical conditions, especially if they are elderly, they may not remember to, or otherwise be able to, renew their state certification, which is what happened to a poor 80-year-old patient, as Fox 17 West Michigan reported:

Delores Saltzman and her son Mark tell FOX 17 cannabis saved her life: it worked up her appetite when she was sick; helped her heal after surgeries; and eases her pain from ongoing health conditions. They are disturbed a deputy jailed her overnight for using her medicine.

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June 13 around 9 p.m., Clare County Sheriff’s Deputy Ashley Gruno knocked on Delores’ door. According to court records, Gruno was trying to locate Saltzman’s great granddaughter, and return her lost phone and ID. That’s when the deputy smelled marijuana from Saltzman’s porch.

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Then, court records show Saltzman was handcuffed in the patrol car. She says the deputy did not read her rights to her, and she was escorted to jail for the night.

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Clare County Prosecutor Michelle Ambrozaitis wrote FOX 17 this statement:

“Law enforcement went to Ms. Saltzman’s home looking for an individual who had been known to stay at that residence.  When the deputy arrived, she could smell the odor of marijuana.  When she interacted with Ms. Saltzman at the door, Ms. Saltzman admitted to have been smoking marijuana and possessing marijuana and that she had allowed her medical marijuana card to lapse.  At that time, Ms. Saltzman turned over to the deputy 7 marijuana pipes, 4 joints, a grinder, and a purple glass jar that also held a quantity of marijuana inside.  The deputy arrested Ms. Saltzman for the illegal possession of marijuana and lodged her in the Clare County Jail.  Based upon that arrest, a police report and request for charges was generated by the deputy and presented to our office.  My assistant prosecutor authorized a possession of marijuana charge based upon the admission by Ms. Saltzman that she wasn’t a medical marijuana card holder and the evidence that she did possess marijuana illegally.  However, our goal is to ensure that individuals who utilize medical marijuana are doing so legally.  As such, Ms. Saltzman was encouraged to obtain her medical marijuana card and if she did so, the case would be dismissed.  She did obtain her medical marijuana card and the case was dismissed.”

A sincere thanks to Delores Saltzman for sharing her story to help others. While it is good that prosecutors dropped charges against Ms. Saltzman, patients shouldn’t be placed in handcuffs and thrown in a jail cell. It is fortunate that the elderly Saltzman didn’t suffer a serious or even fatal medical complication spending time in a cold prison. When Michigan voters go to the polls this November, they need to vote YES to end prohibition to create jobs, generate revenue, and better prioritize law enforcement resources so the arrests of harmless patients like Delores Saltzman never happen again in the Wolverine State. Visit the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol website to volunteer and donate. 

Don’t miss the International Cannabis Business Conference in Portland, Oregon, this September 27th-28th, where top advocates, investors, and entrepreneurs will be networking and sharing pertinent information. The ICBC does indeed help businesses thrive, but also always keeps a focus on advocacy, helping carry the message that the cannabis industry must always keep in mind the needs of patients and the importance of keeping the nonviolent cannabis community out of prison. (Plus, DJ Muggs and Del the Funky Homosapien are both performing at the ICBC Portland after-party!) Get your “early bird” tickets by September 12th to save $200!