National solution for state pot, please

FEB 19, 2013, 4:45 AM


“Medical marijuana” in America needs a federal solution – not repetitive hit or miss measures outside of settling the issue through national legislation.

Michigan State Representative Mike Carlton, R-Nashville, has introduced a bill that proposes to allow local governments to decide if they want marijuana dispensaries in their cities. If passed, it may cause more problems than unscrambling our medical marijuana puzzle.

According to federal law, there is no such thing as “medical marijuana.” Not only can it not be smoked for recreational use, according to D.C., but there is no recognized medical designation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA, in fact, states that there are “no sound scientific studies” that pot has medicinal purposes for regular consumption.

U.S. Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske recently stated that the feds will continue to raid “medical marijuana” dispensaries, and Michigan State Attorney Bill Schuette also said that he will send instructions to all county prosecutors to shut down pot houses.

Believing or not in the healing powers of weed is not the question. The issue is whether or not local or state governments can behave like confederates to ignore federal laws just because local populations disagree. I think not.

In fact, people who ignore federal drug laws are asking to be prosecuted. I wouldn’t call going to the clink for dismissing cannabis laws an act of righteous civil disobedience.

If marijuana indeed has medicinal purposes, then I suggest that smokers and their acolytes concentrate all efforts on a federal solution. And if there is to be any viable national solution, it must include pot being certified by the FDA and being taxed by the government. It’s absurd to propose that medical marijuana doesn’t need to be certified by the FDA, yet the FDA gives recommendations on using aspirin.

America’s drug laws are definitely antiquated and have our prisons clogged with non-violent drug offenders, some of them being pot offenders. I amfor reforming our drug laws. What I’m not in favor of are local gimmicks that do nothing to address the issue of marijuana usage, in particular medical marijuana, on the macro level.

Carlton’s pot dispensary bill should not even make it to the House floor for a vote, much less be adopted into law. National marijuana reform is the only real solution.


Facts shouldn’t be buried with Dorner’s corpse

Facts shouldn’t be buried with Dorner’s corpse

FEB 13, 2013, 7:55 PM


The Christopher Dorner saga seems to have come to an end. But the issues surrounding this multi-layered situation should not.

Dorner was definitely not a martyr as some portray him. There should never be justification for any form of vigilantism to rectify crimes or perceived slights. Moreover, there is nothing heroic about the three murders, which he allegedly committed to address his grievances.

His chilling manifesto seemed in stark contrast with a man whose friends spoke of his good character. How does an honorably-discharged, former U.S. military officer and policeman turn to such extreme behavior? His actions don’t spring magically from a vacuum.

The answers reside in Dorner’s manifesto.

Dorner reported perceived corruption and racism within the LAPD. After breaking the blue curtain of silence, he was relieved from his duties, which he claims was due to his whistle-blowing (though he was formally dismissed for giving a false report against a fellow officer). According to Dorner, he operated within a system which failed him.

Dorner’s assertions are in line with long-held grievances that too many black and latino Americans share regarding excessive force and institutionalized racism in law enforcement. Hence, many people of color believed his claims even as they disagreed with his acts.

The allegations in his manifesto are congruent will well-known problems from consent decrees against the Detroit Police Department to the infamous “Stop and Frisk” program of the New York Police Department (NYPD) to the long history of complaints of police brutality against the LAPD (crystallized in many minds by the infamous beating of Rodney King). In fact, Dorner specifically purported that the discipline taken against him was due to holdover actors that perpetuate a system of bad policing that hail from the King era.

No grievance, no matter how legitimate, can be addressed through wanton violence. The reality, however, is that oppression breeds extreme reactions – which was possibly the case with Dorner. His manifesto should not be quickly dismissed as the words of an inept cop who played the “race card.”

The LAPD made a smart move to re-investigate the circumstances of Dorner’s termination in the name of transparency – not capitulation. More needs to be done to dig into the roots of this situation.

To bring more clarity to the matter, the Department of Justice (DOJ) should investigate Dorner’s claims, not the LAPD. No police force can be entrusted to investigate itself without oversight.

There also needs to be investigations as to how three innocent people were shot by Southern Californian police while looking for Dorner. Such excessive force furthers community mistrust of law enforcement and unfortunately gives passive support to Dorner’s claims of police abuse.

It’s a tragedy that innocent people were murdered, that unarmed civilians were shot by police, and that Dorner did not turn himself in to face a judge and jury. Hopefully, the broader issues of excessive force and institutional racism within our law enforcement agencies will be re-examined by the LAPD and other police forces – and not be buried as non-issues Dorner’s corpse.

Dawud Walid

Dawud Walid is currently the Executive Director for the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI), which is a branch of America’s largest advocacy and civil rights organization for Muslims in America. Walid is a preacher of the Islamic religion, who delivers weekly sermons at various mosques throughout Michigan.

Religious leaders across Michigan praise Pope Benedict XVI

7:50 PM, February 11, 2013
By Niraj Warikoo

Detroit Free Press Staff Writer

Religious leaders across Michigan praised Pope Benedict XVI for his work in fostering interfaith relations.

Imam Hassan Qazwini, who has met Pope Benedict twice as religious leader of the biggest mosque in Michigan, said the Pope’s resignation was surprising and sad given what a positive leader he was.

Imam Qazwini, of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, praised the Pope for his efforts to promote dialogue between Catholics and Muslims, the two biggest religious groups in the world. And he lauded the Pope for his honesty in stepping down.

“I have so much admiration for the Pope, for being honest and humble,” Qazwini said. “The man was honest that he was no longer capable of keeping his duty because of his fragile health. That is truly to be admired. He’s someone who does not favor his selfish interests by insisting to stay in his position when he knows he no longer can function.”

Qazwini met with the Pope as part of delegations in 2006 at the Vatican and in 2008 when the Pope visited the U.S. Qazwini remembered him as being courteous in person.

“He sounded very welcoming, very humble,” Qazwini said.

In 2006, Pope Benedict had made some remarks about Islam and reason that were “viewed negatively by the Muslim world,” Qazwini said. “But after that, I think he tried his best to reach out of the Muslim world. He kind of apologized, not just through words, but practically to amend the relationship with the Muslim world, something we should really respect for doing.”

Qazwini hopes the next Pope will continue the dialogue between Catholics and Muslims.

Rev. Bob Cornwall, a Protestant pastor with Central Woodward Christian Church in Troy, agreed with Qazwini’s praise of the Pope for stepping down rather than serving until he dies.

“This is a rather dramatic step, which could set precedent,” Cornwall said. “Future Popes could make the same decision, choosing retirement rather than fade away, putting the church at risk. Personally, I think this step should be commended.”

At the same time, Cornwall said that “as an ecumenically minded, progressive, Protestant pastor, I’ve not been a big fan of Benedict. I’ve felt he was dragging the church well to the right, undermining the reforms of Vatican II.”

Kari Alterman, director of the Detroit office of the American Jewish Committee, praised the Pope, noting his efforts to promote Catholic-Jewish relations.

She said: “We wish Pope Benedict XVI well. Through his visits to synagogues, Holocaust memorial sites and the State of Israel, Benedict has demonstrated his commitment to sustaining and advancing Catholic-Jewish relations.”

Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, also praised Qazwini: “Though he started his papacy on rocky terms with the Muslim community, he repeatedly called for Muslim-Christian cooperation in ending the international disease of violence. We hope that his successor calls for even more cooperation between Muslims and Christians to end injustice in America and around the globe.”

Padma Kuppa, a Troy resident who’s on the executive council of the Hindu American Foundation, said: “There’s an opportunity with Pope Benedict’s retirement to promote pluralism…It will help promote peace and reduce religious tensions arising from exclusivism.”