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Michigan Repeal Marijuana Prohibition Initiative Gearing Up [FEATURE]

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #716)

A campaign to repeal marijuana prohibition in Michigan is getting ready to hit the streets with an army of volunteer signature-gatherers in a bid to put the issue before the voters in November. Campaign staffers said Tuesday state approval of final changes in the language of the proposed ballot initiative could come any day, and then petitioners will go to work.

Michigan state flag
"We are waiting for the Board of Canvassers to approve our language, and then we'll begin collecting signatures," said Brandy Zink, volunteer coordinator for the Committee for a Safer Michigan. "We're organizing at this very moment, getting our volunteers lined up."

The campaign will have until July 9 to gather the more than 322,000 valid voter signatures it needs to make the November ballot.

The ballot initiative takes the form of a constitutional amendment that would repeal the state's marijuana laws. The entire text of the amendment is as follows:

"For persons who are at least 21 years of age who are not incarcerated, marihuana acquisition, cultivation, manufacture, sale, delivery, transfer, transportation, possession, ingestion, presence in or on the body, religious, medical, industrial, agricultural, commercial or personal use, or possession or use of paraphernalia shall not be prohibited, abridged or penalized in any manner, nor subject to civil forfeiture; provided that no person shall be permitted to operate an aircraft, motor vehicle, motorboat, ORV, snowmobile, train, or other heavy or dangerous equipment or machinery while impaired by marihuana."

If the initiative were to pass, Michigan's marijuana laws would be rendered unconstitutional, and it would be "immediately incumbent on the legislature to repeal these mentions of marihuana throughout the criminal laws and infractions," the campaign said. The campaign would then ask the legislature to adopt sensible taxes and regulations, but believes "they'll beat us to it."

The campaign also argues that repealing the marijuana laws is within the purview of individual states and would not create a conflict with federal law that could preempt repeal. "The state of Michigan has the sovereign power to adopt and amend a constitution and both pass and repeal laws concerning everything not specifically reserved to the federal government," the campaign argues.

The repeal initiative is largely a response to the intense hostility with which some segments of Michigan law enforcement, led by Attorney General Bill Schuette (R), have reacted to the state's medical marijuana law, approved by 63% of the voters in 2008. Schuette, who sees the medical marijuana law as a cover for drug dealing, used a 2010 appeals court ruling that some sales of medical marijuana at dispensaries were illegal to declare that all dispensaries were illegal, unleashing a round of raids on dispensaries.

Last June, Schuette struck again against medical marijuana, issuing an opinion that: "The possession of marijuana remains illegal under federal law, even if it is possessed for medicinal purposes in accordance with the state law."

That has led to doctors across the state refusing to sign medical marijuana recommendations for fear of prosecution, which in turn has led to a tightening of access for patients. The supply situation has been further aggravated by actions in more than 60 Michigan counties or cities to restrict or ban medical marijuana. Just last month, an Oakland County circuit court judge ruled against a Birmingham couple who, with the help of the ACLU, had sued to overturn bans in several Oakland County communities.

"Our amendment is directed at the abject failure of marijuana prohibition, and also the interference by state officials with implementing our medical marijuana law and their increased aggression against patients and caregivers," said campaign spokesperson Charmie Gholson.

She accused the state law enforcement establishment of plotting to undo the will of the voters by going through the courts.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, whose war on medical marijuana sparked the initiative campaign
"When the people of Michigan overwhelmingly passed that law, the prohibitionists knew they would need a supermajority to amend it because it was voter-initiated," Gholson said. "What we see them doing is arresting people anyway in hostile areas throughout the state, then the judge would rule against them, then the prosecutor would appeal. They're working these cases up to the conservatively-stacked state Supreme Court."

Zink, too, cited the hostile response of law enforcement, the Michigan courts, and Attorney General Schuette to the state's voter approved medical marijuana law as the motive force behind the initiative campaign.

"The medical cannabis community and others here are concerned about this issue in part because of abuse of our law here by law enforcement and our attorney general," said Zink. "We've been holding meetings since October trying to come up with ways to resolve this, and after much debate and deep thought, we decided to just end cannabis prohibition in Michigan."

For the time being, at least, the campaign is relying on volunteers to get the signatures. That's a tough task when you need more than 322,000 valid signatures, but the campaign is undaunted.

"Right now, it's an all-volunteer effort, and it's going well," said Zink. "Our web site has been up for less than two weeks, and we've got volunteers recruited in nearly every county. It's a very dedicated and passionate group of people. "The community is fairly unified," Zink said. "Everyone has fought really hard for what we have, and some are a bit fearful of a backlash from law enforcement and the attorney general. But we're already being attacked by them anyway, and we've decided we have to fight for what is right."

It takes money to run an initiative campaign and pretty big money to run anything other than an all-volunteer campaign in a state the size of Michigan. The campaign is currently engaged in fundraising at the state level and hints that it may seek outside support as well.

"We're working on fundraising and hoping people will make contributions to the Committee for a Safer Michigan," Zink said. "We're doing our best right here in Michigan, and while we would love outside support, we haven't actively sought it… yet."

Using the initiative process, Michigan was the first state in the Midwest to legalize medical marijuana. Now, it could become the first state in the country to repeal pot prohibition, but only if the Committee for a Safer Michigan manages to make the ballot in the first place, and then to convince Michigan voters to pass their initiative.

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.


Paul Pot (not verified)

I really hope this initiative gets to the ballot. It's the first one to have any teeth.

With the presence of Ron Paul and Gary Johnson in the presidential race and several marijuana reform initiatives around the country there should be a considerable amount of media attention on legalization this year.

Thu, 01/12/2012 - 1:58am Permalink
Duane Olson (not verified)

M/S ZINK; CONGRATULATIONS!  Without any constructive-implication or conclusions of law by me, and supported SOLELY by the language in the text in the federal statutes themselves, supposing I am able to prove to your complete satisfaction or any GURU of Constitution Law from the legal community, that;

THERE IS NO CONGRESSIONAL ENACTED federal criminal statute that PROHIBITS, FORBIDS, or makes it UNLAWFUL for any person at random or from the State of Michigan, to buy, sell, use, or abuse, narcotics, drugs, hallucinates, marijuana, or controlled substances, whatever they are now or ever will be, what would you and your organization do?

To be precise; hundreds of thousands of men and women from nearly every nation on this planet have been IL-legally and UN-constitutionally arrested, prosecuted, convicted, and DENIED their liberty and freedom for a combined millions of years by the executive and judicial branch of the government of the United States respectively, under color of the most repugnant FRAUD ever perpetrated and conducted by a government against its own people in the History of the World simply be using TOXIC-WORDS and WORDS of ART!

Before you shred this offer to help, think about this M/S ZINK!  Our Declaration of Independence and Constitution for self-government Guaranteed by the Original Ten Articles of Amendment thereto; have been labeled the work of GENIUS by scholars from around the World for over two-hundred years!  Do you honestly think that the Framers and Founders of this still yet Young Republic would have ever drafted and endorsed a Constitution for self-government that would GRANT the central government the POWER to take-away the Framers life, liberty, and property, and put them in the central government's prisons for 5-10-15 years or LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE for buying, selling, using or abusing their favorite recreational drink . . . TEA . . .?  I thought not! It's not the subject matter of marijuana, melons, cabbage, cocaine, or TEA that is the issue here, it's the People's Perpetual Protections Secured by the Constitution that is the issue here!  

The above statements of fact are not to be construed as support for medical marijuana, I don't care either way, I am a Constitutional Federalist!  I can and I will submit my discovery, for the want of a better word, upon request, no charge!

 The old geezer

Thu, 01/12/2012 - 1:52pm Permalink
Duane Olson (not verified)

In reply to by Niles Mike (not verified)

Thank You Niles, It's TRUE you know, a violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841(a)(1) [or the federal drug laws], is really a material breach of a real and binding voluntary contractual agreement where money changed hands between the registrant and the attorney general creating privileges, obligations, and liabilities, for federal-jurisdiction to be federally-regulated in the closed commercial system of 'controlled substances' to possess, manufacture, distribute, and dispense, controlled substances "to the extent authorized by their registration". [21 U.S.C. 822(b)]  

Therefore, Since "interstate commerce" was Specifically and with Purpose of Intent OMITTED from the statute 841 by the 91st Congress, it is IMPOSSIBLE for interstate commerce to be either the federal jurisdictional element or the injured party element essential for the government's prosecutors to sustain a conviction! 

WHEREFORE; A violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841(a)(1) is a Civil Matter of Equity in United States District Court for settlement against the registrant for injuries sustained by the attorney general for material breach of a contractual agreement by the registrant and any person NOT registered with the attorney general is EXEMPT the ambits of the statutes in the federal drug laws!    

Whether or not the punishment prescribed of 5-10-25-years or LIFE IN FEDERAL PRISON WITHOUT PAROLE and fines of millions of dollars for a material breach of a contractual agreement in which the attorney general of the United States is the 'injured party' is legal and constitutional need not be answered here!  Perhaps one could inquire of the more than 140,000 'any persons' in federal prison why the hell they gave-up their civil rights! But then, I'm not a lawyer, so what the hell do I know,

Compliments of the old geezer

Tue, 01/17/2012 - 8:16pm Permalink
Jeff Brown (not verified)

In 1972 the governments own Commission on Marijuana found that adults should be able to use marijuana in their homes and share it without being penalized. The DEA's own administrative law judge in 1988 called it one of the safest therapuetic substances known to man. The majority of the citizens support it as a medicine and around 50 percent outright legalization. Its definitely time to  repeal these unjust and cruel laws. 

Thu, 01/12/2012 - 3:43pm Permalink
Duane Olson (not verified)

In reply to by Jeff Brown (not verified)

The central government doesn't much care how its citizens commit suicide, whether by rope, gun, alcohol, tobacco, or drugs, matters not to the hierarchy of this military complex "WE, the people" call Our Republic!  The DEA has morphed itself into every single Embassy (over 100) we have in foreign countries and they are the ONLY government agency that can LEGALLY tap phones of foreign dignitaries, ship guns, ammo, helicopters, and other WAR materials to Third World Countries and manage covert operations behind the mask of America's lucifarian and moralistic "WAR on DRUGS"!  Even the CIA cannot operate legally in such a manner!  To be precise, I don't know if the combined efforts of all of US would be enough to ever bring down this EMPIRE within an EMPIRE operated by greed and the military complex!  Thank You for your comments! 

Thu, 01/12/2012 - 8:26pm Permalink
Gagetowndog (not verified)

It would be nice to have a list of who is the person for each county that have the petitions. I am in Tuscola county and don't have a clue who to contact.

Thu, 01/12/2012 - 3:53pm Permalink
Gagetowndog (not verified)

I am in Tuscola county, who has the petition here, we want to sign it.

Thu, 01/12/2012 - 3:54pm Permalink
Michelle Button (not verified)

Where do I get the petitions? I would like to sign and volunteer to collect signatures. 

Sun, 01/29/2012 - 1:53pm Permalink

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