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80-year-old Michigan Woman’s Arrest Should Be A Rallying Cry for Medical Marijuana Patients

After 80-year-old Michigan grandmother Dolores Saltzman was arrested by a Clare County sheriff’s deputy for medicating with marijuana while having a lapsed medical marijuana card, she had a message for other marijuana patients: “Don’t be ashamed of something that’s going to help you feel better.”

Since her arrest, Saltzman has used her story as a call to action for the people of Michigan to take hold of their own fate as they head to the ballot box in November 2018.  

“I hope that we all learn a lesson from this and make amends. And people will get out and vote for it,” Saltzman told WXMI-TV, the Fox affiliate for Grand Rapids. “We’re the ones that have to stand up. We’re the people, and we have to just fight for our rights.”

As the public vote to legalize the recreational use of marijuana approaches, Saltzman’s arrest is the kind of cruel injustice that puts the fight for legal weed into perspective and motivate the people to make Michigan the tenth state to legalize the personal use of cannabis.

‘It’s mind-boggling, but she was doing her job.’

When Saltzman was arrested and taken into custody on June 13, 2018, by Deputy Ashley Gruno after she smelled marijuana from Saltzman’s porch, she found the entire situation “mind-boggling,” even though she understood that Gruno was “doing her job.”

Michigan legalized medical marijuana in 2008 for patients who suffered from a qualifying condition and registered a valid medical marijuana card. According to Michigan’s Licensing And Regulatory Affairs (LARA), the $60 renewal process can only be accepted 60 days prior to the current card’s expiration date.

Saltzman’s ID had lapsed, meaning she did not have a valid medical marijuana card making the possession of marijuana legal. The 80-year-old was handcuffed without being read her Miranda rights and jailed for the first time in her life.

Clare County Sheriff John Wilson initially supported the decision to arrest Saltzman, telling WXMI-TV in a statement, “What the person was doing was illegal, had she renewed her medical marijuana card she would have been fine,” but offered no comment on whether the deputy should have arrested Saltzman. Later, Wilson conceded that he would have handled the situation differently, offering Gruno’s youth and inexperience as the reason for the misguided arrest.

Should law enforcement put an 80-year-old woman in a jail cell when the plant is otherwise medically legal and has the potential to become legal for personal use in a few months?

The jailed men in Clare County Correctional Facility didn’t seem to think so, as they hooted  while Saltzman was being processed by officers.

Saltzman was released from jail the following morning and her case was later dismissed by a Clare County judge on Aug. 2, 2018, but the possibility of a grandma being arrested over a technicality should remain on the mind of voters.

A poll conducted in April by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and the University of Michigan found that most Americans ages 50 to 80 think medical marijuana is effective at relieving pain, and four out of five respondents supported the medical use of marijuana. A majority — 80 percent — said medical marijuana should be available to patients with a doctor’s recommendation.

The poll also found a majority of respondents believed medical marijuana is most effective for relieving anxiety, increasing appetite and mitigating minor aches and pains.

With the AARP poll being conducted in Michigan, it appears that, at least statistically, most older Americans agree with Saltzman’s use of medical marijuana.

The People of Michigan Have a Chance to Fight For Their Rights In November

With the charges now dismissed, Saltzman told Marijuana.com that her goal is to “end the stigma of a plant that helps people.” She is doing so by sharing her story and encouraging the people of Michigan to vote for marijuana legalization this November.

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A EPIC-MRA poll found that 61 percent of Michigan voters would vote for the recreational marijuana ballot proposal. Hopefully, Saltzman’s experience and words motivate that majority of Michigan voters to take a stand and fight for their rights to possess marijuana without the fear of having to spend a night in jail.

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