Livingston County Sheriff Mike Murphy is voicing strong opposition to Proposal 1, a ballot measure that would legalize marijuana for people age 21 and older.

Proposal 1 was put forward by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. If approved, it would legalize the personal possession and use of marijuana by persons 21 and older. It would also create a state-regulated system of licensed marijuana businesses that will cultivate, process, test, and sell marijuana and marijuana-infused products while also enacting an excise tax on marijuana at the retail level, in addition to the standard state sales tax. Cities and counties could prohibit or restrict pot shops.

Backers say it proposes a sensible alternative to Michigan’s failed policy of marijuana prohibition and cite economic gain, a culture that has already legalized marijuana but also that it’s a safer substitute for painkillers amid the deadly opioid epidemic. Opponents argue marijuana is much more potent today and cite the potential impact on the developing teenage brain, along with other concerns that it would lead to a more "stoned" workforce, car crashes and crimes. Other arguments being made are that adults, with or without serious health problems, can already easily obtain pot under the state's lax medical marijuana law.

If the proposal passes, Murphy maintains it will be a disaster. He says it’s a totally different drug today when considering the potency and high THC content – and that’s not including edibles being marketed to youth. He notes the proposal would allow someone to possess up to ten ounces, calling it, “ridiculous that an individual needs half a pound of dope.” Murphy tells WHMI that many are of the mindset that it’s just marijuana and not a huge deal but Murphy says this is not your mom and dad’s marijuana and there is now concrete data that shows the impact in states that have legalized it for recreational purposes. He says those in 35-65 age range don’t view it as that big of a deal, as many people will remember, “sitting around smoking a joint in high school, laughing, eating a bag of Doritos and life was good.” Murphy says tests from states that have legalized marijuana show IQ levels go down because it affects the normal growth process in kids. He referred to other statistics demonstrating the drain on social service programs in other states, as well as high numbers of babies being born with THC in their system. Murphy said there are also actual overdose cases and deaths attributed to marijuana – although those are more linked to edibles because of the high THC level. Murphy noted that Oregon saw a 2000% increase in hospital visits linked to marijuana poisoning.

As for arguments about the economic benefits of legalizing recreational marijuana and doing so will result in a big influx of new cash for governments while taking the black market out the picture - Murphy says it’s a “bunch of crap” and the reality is the exact opposite because the black market is actually driving the bus. When it comes to enforcement for medical marijuana, Murphy says it’s difficult. He feels the law was written intentionally vague and says it has taken years and many court battles to have some sort of consistency. He noted there are over 4,200 cardholders in Livingston County and almost 700 registered caregivers. Murphy says that would mean there are over 4,200 really, really sick people in a population of 200,000 – calling that a “bunch of crap too.” The majority claim they have severe chronic pain, which is hard to prove or disprove. Murphy says he has no problem with marijuana for being used by those that truly have severe chronic pain or are terminal or a cancer patient because that’s how the medical marijuana bill was portrayed and passed by voters. However, he says there is no way there are actually 4,200 in Livingston County who suffer from severe chronic pain.

Murphy is encouraging voters to take a look at the full scope of the proposal in a Facebook video. The link is provided. He also provided facts from states that have enacted similar legislation and other arguments via Details on the ballot proposal can be found online at (JM/JK)