A Lansing medical marijuana dispensary is offering medical marijuana patients a choice of a half a gram of medical pot or a marijuana-laced baked good called a “medible” in exchange for registering to vote.
On the dispensary’s website, owner Skekina Pena writes:
Protect Your Access! Vote 2011:
All dispensaries are doing a voter registration drive. If you sign up at Your Healthy Choice, we will assist you in filling out the registration form and will mail it out for you. We believe in power in numbers and everyone taking a stand. So in appreciation, we will reward legal patients with a .5 gram free or a free medible! I’m planning an event for the preliminary voting that will have shuttles to the polls! We have to amend our Lansing ordinance! May God bless our efforts!
The webpage then encourages readers to support Lansing City Council candidates Derrick Quinney, A’Lynne Robinson and Harold Leeman. It also encourages readers to vote against City Council candidates Carol Wood and Jody Washington.
But in an interview with Pena Wednesday, she denied she was offering free pot or medibles in exchange for registering to vote.
“If they fill [the voter registration form] out, we are offering a compensation of a discount on their purchases that day,” Pena told Michigan Messenger. “That’s it. To help out those who wasted their gas to come in here.”
The dispensary is located on Michigan Avenue, six blocks from the state Capitol.
A spokesman for the Secretary of State says that while ultimately the decision about whether or a not crime has been committed is up to a local prosecutor, Michigan law does address situations similar to this.
“Generally, if it advocates voting on a specific date and for or against certain candidates, it is likely an illegal inducement to vote,” says Fred Woodhams, spokesperson for Secretary of State Ruth Johnson. “In this situation, you have some one potentially offering a valuable consideration to induce some one to vote.”
Jody Washington, running for the First Ward seat on the Lansing City Council, is one of the candidates the clinic is advocating against. Washington does not currently hold an elective office. One of her opponents, Harold Leeman, is endorsed by the clinic.
“I was a little surprised that some one was trading marijuana for votes,” Washington told Michigan Messenger.
Candidate Derrick Quinney, who is endorsed on the clinic’s website, said it was the first he had heard of the situation.
“I don’t believe in buying votes,” Quinney said. “I’m certainly not in favor of anyone being influenced to do anything in an election other than by what we as candidates provide them.”
Quinney denied he is a registered medical marijuana caregiver. He also said he is not a registered patient.
“The only thing I have done is take my 86-year-old father-in-law, who is a registered patient, to pick up his medicine,” Quinney said.
Carol Wood, who is in the race against Quinney and others, was quick to condemn the clinic’s actions.
“I thought Medical Marijuana was to be used for medical purposes, not as a bribe for a vote,” said Wood in an emailed statement. “We can do better as a community than trading pot for votes.”