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Councilman stirs online dust-up with anti-marijuana post

Outgoing Medford City Councilman John Michaels took one final potshot in this year's political struggle over marijuana's place in local culture.

The west Medford Ward 3 representative, who didn't seek re-election in 2014, made it clear in a Facebook post that he disagreed with the state's electorate who approved a ballot measure legalizing recreational use of marijuana last November.

"So with the passage of the marijuana issue this coming summer when many of my neighbors (are) growing their own marijuana plants, I'm going to have some fun," Michaels wrote. "I'm going to grow male hemp plants that will essentially cross-pollinate with everyone's pot plants in the neighborhood and ruin them. I'm tired of all the drugs in west Medford and I'm feeling evil."

The seemingly lighthearted comment touched off a heated debate on the West Medford Residents group Facebook page.

When contacted on Wednesday morning, Michaels declined to elaborate on his post.

"I don't want to add fuel to the fire," Michaels said. "It was just a fun throw-away post; it must be a slow news day." While the original post was taken down by a site moderator, it didn't take long for a screen shot to go up and the vitriolic trash talk to continue. "I deleted the post, because of the direct (attacks) to various people that were happening," wrote Jacob Stecher, a site moderator, in response to a group member questioning the move. Kevin Stine, one of two new City Council members representing west Medford, said Wednesday he didn't read much into Michaels' words. "Knowing his personality, as soon as I read it, I knew he was poking a joke," Stine said. "I thought he was having fun." Nonetheless, Stine said drug use — legal and otherwise — remains a topic of intense interest in his ward. "It's a real issue that affects people," Stine said. "It has been banned in the city, but there are people who take it (medically prescribed) to help better their lives. It's clear he didn't intend to make it personal. Some of the comments that followed were pretty egregious, but it's the Internet."

Poster Jason Ziegler went as far as to claim the departing council member was potentially breaking the law.

"I'm pretty sure his post shows forethought and malice to destroy legally grown medication. I think the police should do something about that. Especially since it's clearly premeditated," Ziegler wrote.

For his part, Stine thinks the matter will soon be forgotten.

"I  think it's already dead," he said. "It's really just a little comment put out there that exploded because people have certain viewpoints about marijuana. I think it's good that people have debates."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31, and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.


John Michaels