Comedian Hal Sparks once made a fantastic joke about the war on drugs.
“Every time there is an abundance of something, the government declares war on it. I wish there was a war on hot chicks. That way there would be one of them on every damn street corner.”
Since President Richard Nixon declared the war on drugs back in 1971, there has been only one loser. The people.
Forty-five years later, the war still wages on while the people continue to suffer.
From an article printed in the Phoenix New Times, Monday, Oct. 17, Discount Tire founder and former Eastern Michigan University graduate Bruce Halle donated $1 million to the Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy (ARDP). This donation was an effort to defeat Prop 205, the ballot initiative to legalize recreational use of marijuana in the state of Arizona.
In case you didn't know, the library here at EMU bares his namesake; the Bruce T. Halle Library.
According to Forbes magazine, the tire tycoon is worth a reported $8.5 billion. After borrowing $5,000 from a friend of his, he purchased a minority stake in a tires and accessories business that went bust not long after.
After splitting the assets and liabilities of the company, Halle opened his first retail store in Ann Arbor in 1960 with just two employees. That store is now Discount Tire. With 900 stores in over 30 locations, it's safe to say that Halle is a self-made man.
Discount Tires vision states: “Care for those in need, always do what is right, work hard, be responsible and have fun.”
However, in complete contradiction of the values in his company's mission statement, and that of his foundation, it's also safe to say that Halle is another rich fat belly, with fat pockets who is out of touch with the people.
Halle is a well-known supporter of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio is known for his enforcement of draconian laws that promote racial profiling and for being a flash point in opposition to SB 1070 -- the controversial anti-illegal immigrant law struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, Arpaio is facing criminal contempt charges for violating a federal judge’s orders in connection with the landmark discrimination case “Melendres v. Arpaio.” Authorities are still weighing options to hit him with obstruction of justice charges which would carry way more weight than the six months in jail he’s currently staring at.
Under “Prop 205,” it would be legal for adults of legal drinking age to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, which could be purchased at a state-run system of shops or grown in limited amounts for personal use. Any more than 2.5 ounces would result in a non-arrestable civil infraction subject to a $300 fine.
Recently, the ARDP has come under fire for their acceptance of a $500,000 donation from Insys Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical company under investigation in four states including Arizona for its aggressive marketing of Subsys, a fentanyl based opiate designed to alleviate cancer symptoms. According to the Phoenix New Times, three executives have been brought up on federal charges.
Currently in Arizona, there are 600,000 people 21 and older who use cannabis according to state legislature. Recent polls show that the vote will be close depending on Election Day turnout Nov. 8.
Halle’s cash means that the ARDP can flood airwaves and streets with more useless, reefer madness-style propaganda and put more “vote no” signs on street corners and more “re-elect Sheriff Joe” signs in his tire shops.
As a medical marijuana cardholder since 2015, let me be the first to tell you, I didn't get my card out of a Cracker Jack box. I received it due to chronic back pain from time spent getting my ass kicked in football practice at the esteemed south central Michigan powerhouse Grand Ledge High School.
Think about this process what you will, but the 200,000 plus medical marijuana patients in Michigan would concur that not only does legalization need to happen, but that all levels of government overstepping its boundaries and billionaires like Halle impeding progress and delaying the inevitable is not the answer.
How can Halle “Care for those in need” when medical marijuana users jump through hoops to obtain medication. For these patients, medical marijuana is the need.
I wouldn't expect Halle to understand. He's just another rich fat belly with fat pockets who's out of touch with the people.
Make sure to vote Nov. 8. Free the weed.