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Medical Marijuana: Michigan Initiative Organizers Hand in Half a Million Signatures

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #511)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

Backers of a proposed 2008 medical marijuana initiative in Michigan delivered some 496,000 signatures of registered voters to state election officials Tuesday, far in excess of the 304,000 required by Michigan law to put the issue to a vote. Provided that signature-gatherers have in fact come up with enough valid signatures -- anywhere over 450,000 would normally be considered a comfortable margin -- the issue will then go before the legislature. If the legislature fails to act, the issue would go to the voters in the November 2008 election.

Organized by the Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care, with the backing of the Marijuana Policy Project, the initiative would set up a system of patient and caregiver registries that would allow qualifying patients or caregivers to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and 12 plants. Caregivers could possess those amounts for each patient with whom they are listed on the state registry. Medical marijuana would be approved for "chronic debilitating disease or medical conditions" including cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer's agitation, wasting, severe or chronic pain, severe nausea, or "any other medical condition or its treatment approved by the department."

While under Michigan law, the legislature will get first crack at approving the initiative, that appears unlikely. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) told the Detroit Free Press the legislature could have taken up the issue at any time. That it has not suggests "there may not be much interest in it," the spokesman said. A spokesman for House Speaker Andy Dillon (D-Redford Township) had no comment.

But the lackadaisical legislature notwithstanding, Michigan has already proven friendly ground for medical marijuana, with voters in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Ferndale, Traverse City, and Flint all passing local initiatives since 2004. An August 2003 poll found 59% for medical marijuana statewide.

Twelve states currently have viable medical marijuana laws, mainly in the West and the Northeast. No state in the Midwest has yet embraced medical marijuana, although legislative efforts are underway in several, including Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

Denying medical marijuana to needy patients is simply cruel. I can only speculate what motivates governments to do so... Perhaps because the herb can't be patented, pharmaceutical mega-corps can't profit and maybe the infrastructure in place to combat the benign plant is a primary source of profit for the military industrial complex are two possibilties that come to mind. It's a curious world indeed when drugs like Oxycontin are legal and useful herbs are demonized. For an insightful view of mj and the culture surrounding, take a look at this provocative novel: I believe that, through the characters, one may discover some truths regarding the god-given herb and be entertained in the process.

Sat, 11/24/2007 - 1:57pm Permalink

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