The Marijuana Policy Project (http://www.mpp.org) filed suit against the city of Minneapolis September 3 to try to force the city to allow a vote on a medical marijuana charter amendment. MPP is suing on behalf of local initiative organizers Citizens Organized for Harm Reduction (http://www.cohr.org), whose efforts to get the issue on the November ballot were rebuffed by the city council two weeks ago despite having turned in over 12,000 signatures from Minneapolis voters (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/351/minneapolis.shtml).
According to COHR, the proposed charter amendment would: "Require that the City Council shall authorize, license, and regulate a reasonable number of medicinal marijuana distribution centers in the city of Minneapolis as is necessary to provide services to patients who have been recommended medicinal marijuana by a medical or osteopathic doctor licensed to practice in the state of Minnesota to the extent permitted by state and federal law."
But the city's Charter Commission recommended against putting the measure on the ballot, saying it conflicted with state and federal law. The city council followed the recommendation of the commission.
The lead plaintiff in the suit is Don Haumant, a Minneapolis voter who was a legally registered medical marijuana patient during the time he lived in California and who is being deprived of his right to vote on the amendment by the city's action. The suit argues that the proposed charter amendment "meets all the statutory requirements" and Minneapolis Director of Elections Susanne Griffin is thus "totally without legal authority to refuse to place the proposed charter amendment submitted by Petitioner and others on the November 2, 2004 general election ballot in the City of Minneapolis."
"The City Council's action was grossly undemocratic, disenfranchising the more than 12,000 Minneapolis voters who signed the petitions in good faith," said Neal Levine, a former Minneapolis resident who now serves as director of state policies for MPP. "The reasons given for keeping the charter amendment off the ballot simply do not jibe with either the law or the plain language of the proposed amendment. We are happy to put our resources behind COHR and Mr. Haumant in order to make sure that the voters' rights are respected."