Dec. 27 2010 12:00 AM

Ryan D. Richmond is the former owner of Clinical Relief, a medical marijuana dispensary in Ferndale that was raided by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department in August.

Monday, Dec. 27 — I am very concerned about how strong-armed-forces are moving forward to collect and control data on what is, at the moment, our protected personal rights.

The ability to spy on those that look differently than others is said to be in the name of “efficiencies” by Captain Steve Cook of the Bloomfield Township Police Department. The people that look differently are “those medical marijuana people” that 2/3’s of the voters voted to provide an additional means of medication relief to.

I am no stranger to the headlines of medical marijuana in Michigan. I was the owner of Clinical Relief, a dispensary in Ferndale that was illegally raided this past August. This op-ed is not about the extreme violations that Clinical Relief suffered, rather it is a comment on the open abuse of our personal rights that the strong-armed-forces are sworn to protect: the voters’ right to self-determination. This is one of the core democratic principles that we teach 5th graders today, and hold teachers accountable for. It's kind of ironic: indoctrinate our children while adults goose-step over a minority’s right given to them by the majority.

If you follow the medical marijuana news like me (or wonder how police departments set policy instead of the voters or our elected officials) watch a truly disturbing video with Bloomfield Township Supervisor Dave Payne and Captain Cook. The power that Captain Cook is taking and the power that Supervisor Payne is conceding is dazzling. Video here. It’s like community leaders have forgotten how a democracy works. Not to worry, the strong-armed-forces have it all under control; nothing to see here — move on.

Even more disturbing to me is the complicit nature of the media, for their role in a democracy is paramount. Their media story has been about the “haziness” of the law, particularly the distribution system. Hazy? Tell me one medical product that does not have an effective distribution system for its consumer. There are none. The sole purpose of the strong-armed-forces in attacking dispensaries is to drive the producers and consumers of medical marijuana underground while continuing to demonizing them. Markets determine efficient distribution systems, unless you live in a totalitarian state.

In my mind, a fair question to ask the media is did you forget your economic lessons? Or maybe a more pointed question is will you ever stop drinking the cool aid offered by the strong-armed-forces. Psychologists have a name for this cool aid, its called the “normalcy bias”. Simply put, normalcy bias results when one cannot cope with a disaster. For the strong-armed-forces, the voter approval of medical marijuana was their disaster. They cannot accept the results of the disaster and want their status quo world back, by driving patients and caregivers underground. Unfortunately, the media has not been strong and questioning enough to avoid drinking the cool aid.

Last month I had the opportunity to meet with Tim Beck. For those that don’t know Tim, he is one of the major players in moving forward and developing the medical marijuana act. Tim is also a successful business owner in Detroit that employs many and provides financial advice to thousands. We discussed several topics over our three-hour lunch. When I asked him questions about the distribution system in general and the dispensary model in particular, Tim was not hazy at all; if medical marijuana is legal then there must be an efficient means to distribute it.

The existing law works remarkably well. Under the existing law, patients have medical marijuana as a choice in medications and have their privacy protected, doctors determine who can benefit from it, and free-market forces determine the most cost efficient means of purchase. As I said, the existing law works remarkably well.

Voters or strong-armed-forces. Haziness or normalcy bias.

Consider this a major alert that when the strong-armed-forces manipulate the voters’ mandate and the news media does the bidding of the status quo, we lose.

As the famous saying goes, where they burn books they will soon burn people.

Ryan D. Richmond is the former owner of Clinical Relief, a medical marijuana dispensary in Ferndale that was raided by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department in August.