Organizers Pull Plug on Michigan Marijuana Contest

Organizers have canceled a contest to pick the best medicinal marijuana in Michigan after pressure from local authorities on whether the event was legal.

Anthony Freed, executive director of the Michigan Marijuana Chamber of Commerce in Ypsilanti, Mich., said he wanted people to be able to attend this weekend’s Michigan Caregivers Cup without a cloud of controversy.

Classes and exhibits on how to legally grow, disperse and use medicinal marijuana are now the sole focus of the event, scheduled for Friday through Sunday in Ypsilanti.

On Monday, Freed canceled the contest in which card-carrying medical-marijuana patients were to test marijuana from certified caregivers, after Steve Hiller, Washtenaw County deputy chief assistant prosecutor, called the event illegal last week.

“It’s probably too early,” Freed said. “In the interest of the politics behind the event, I don’t want to ruffle any feathers.”

He said 30 exhibitors have paid $1,000 each to have booths at the expo.

Hiller questioned the contest’s legality, saying there was no way to legally distribute the pot under Michigan law, which says a caretaker may provide the drug to five ongoing patients. The event was set to have 50 caregivers and 50 patients.

“That was a good choice,” Hiller said Monday of canceling the contest. He said local officials have no problem with the expo aspect. “The educational component of that, so far as we can tell, is perfectly legal,” he said.

He wouldn’t discuss whether law enforcement would attend the event. “If they comply with the terms of the Michigan medical-marijuana act, they fall within the safe harbor,” Hiller said.

Dale Gieringer, coordinator for California NORML, a group advocating legalization of marijuana, said cannabis contests have been around for years, but contests in the USA are often held without much publicity, because “legality certainly is questionable, although defensible.”

On Nov. 4, 2008, Michigan joined 13 states — Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington — in allowing pot’s medicinal use.

Aspen, Colo., will host a cannabis festival this spring. The Western Slope Cannabis Crown will feature about 50 medical-marijuana growers’ products, said festival organizer Bobby Scurlock. “We want to get the best of the best in there,” Scurlock said.

Only medical-marijuana users registered in Colorado will be able to buy products from vendors, which will have to occur outside of the conference, Scurlock said.

– Article from USA Today.

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