Ronald Higgerson is a mayoral write-in candidate for Flint, Michigan. He has little chance of winning the election in August, but is still stirring up attention with his bold vision of creating a medical marijuana industry to replace the failing auto industry that has left Flint with one of the worst unemployment rates in the U.S.
Higgerson believes that Flint could be hub of medical marijuana for the state and maybe one day the country. Something that would send hundreds or possibly thousands of unemployed residents back to work. His solution includes utilizing vacant buildings and factories for community grow sites and turning the abandoned high school into a cannabis research institute. Higgerson also believes coordination with state universities is important to help research which could make Michigan a manufacturing and research leader for a future medical marijuana industry.
Michigan voters overwhelmingly approved the states medical marijuana law in 2008 which protects patients and caregivers under state laws. A major road block is that the law does not give patients a legal route to obtain the marijuana by either growing it or establishing legal places to purchase it; a common problem with many medical marijuana laws around the country. Higgerson says that local ordinances should first be changed and then state laws. “What the state politicians do not like is when the local people understand all they have to do is vote. If we change local and state law. The feds will come around.” Higgerson states on his website. A law to legalize marijuana at the federal level has already been introduced recently in the U.S congress.
It’s unclear if methods like these would benefit areas like Flint that are experiencing huge manufacturing declines. Similar ideas to help farmers by allowing legal industrial hemp have been approved in 17 states, but building a legal industry around the production of medical marijuana has yet to happen even in states like California where most production is still underground. Many residents feel a local medical marijuana industry will attract more crime and negative stereotypes, making changes like those proposed in Flint a hard sell to many voters.
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Lead photo by: mmeiser2