March 18 2013 12:00 AM

Medical marijuana advocates protest pending legislation, Appeals Court decision

MMMA President Michael Komorn speaks from the Capitol steps.

Wednesday, Sept. 7 — Over 1,000 members of the medical marijuana community gathered today at the Capitol steps to protect users’ rights.

Chants of “recall,” “shame on Schuette” — referring to state Attorney General Bill Schuette — and “stop arresting patients” echoed around the Capitol as attendees screamed their support throughout the lawn. In addition to the speakers and protesters holding signs, a plane flew around the Capitol trailing a banner that read “Schuette: Keep patients off the streets.”

“Is it too much to ask for equal protection from the law?” Michigan Medical Marijuana Association President Michael Komorn told the crowd. “This is our house. Stop arresting patients.”

Referring to the state Appeals Court ruling last month that banned dispensaries, Komorn said, “This was not a judicial decision. This was a political decision.”

Ayen Meiou, owner of Meme’s Green Dream, a grow shop and dispensary in Burton, said the Appeals Court decision has forced him to shut down one of his stores and fire four employees.

“We’ve probably lost about 50 percent of our business, and nobody’s stopping in because they’re scared,” Meiou said. “It’s hard right now.”

Meiou said he started the dispensary to provide patients with a safe and secure way to get medicine, rather than getting it from dealers on the streets.

“We’re trying to get our dispensaries back open so we can sell meds to our patients,” he said.

Patient cardholder Doug Rich came from Dimondale to see the rally. He said the Appeals Court decision affected him by limiting the varieties of marijuana that he can obtain.

“It cuts down on the kind of variety I get for sure,” Rich said. “You can’t go to the dispensary anymore. I’m hoping that’s a short-term thing.”

Numerous recall tents and voter registration tents lined the Capitol lawn. Workers in the Capitol could be seen peering out of their windows to see what was going on.

Brianna Garrett of the MMMA said she would have liked to see every Michigan medical marijuana patient in attendance, but she was thrilled with the rally’s success so far.

“I definitely know that we are being heard today,” she said. “It is our house and it is our rights and patients, they need a safe, affordable and reliable access to their medicine. That is the bottom line.”