July 12, 2008
November Michigan vote on medical marijuana raises hopes for Wisconsin patients
Posted by Gary Storck
Sunday, July 12, 2008
This November, voters in Michigan will decide whether to legalize medical marijuana. MI activists collected over 500,000 signatures to place the issue on the ballot. At the state level, medical cannabis initiatives have only lost once. The sole defeat was a narrow loss in South Dakota in 2006, where the political situation is much different than in Michigan.
If the Michigan initiative passes, Michigan patients would be allowed to legally possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana or grow up to 12 plants in enclosed and locked facilities. If the initiative passes as expected, what would be considered a felony for patients in Wisconsin will be legal if you step across the state border into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. A situation like that cannot last long.
In addition, one correction per the MPP, the Illinois medical cannabis bill did not die in the Senate as the Tribune reports below, but is scheduled to return in the post-election veto session.
Source: Chicago Tribune: click here
Across Midwest, interest in medical marijuana grows
Michigan vote seen as test for region on issue
By Tim Jones
July 13, 2008
The move to legalize medical marijuana is advancing in the Midwest, with Michigan poised to be the first state between the Rockies and New England to sanction the use of the illegal drug by terminally or seriously ill people.
Michigan voters will decide in November whether to authorize marijuana use, if a doctor determines suffering from such diseases as cancer, Crohn's disease, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer's or hepatitis C could be eased by the drug.
While years of public opinion polling show opposition to legalizing marijuana, polls and the overwhelming majority of state referendum votes show strong support for medical use of marijuana. At the same time, some physician groups have dropped their resistance to medical marijuana.
The combined effect of public opinion, medical research showing benefits of marijuana in the treatment of some diseases and shifts in attitudes in the medical community has fueled the movement that has seen 12 states adopt medical marijuana laws in the past dozen years.
"We need to get beyond the political debate and into medical terms. That's where the public is," said Dianne Byrum, a former state legislator in Michigan and spokeswoman for the Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care, the Detroit-area group that turned in 475,000 signatures to earn a spot on the fall ballot.
"This is really about patients and their suffering. ... For them, medical use of marijuana should give them comfort and not the threat of arrest or jail," Byrum said.
Doctors drop opposition
There is evidence in the Midwest suggesting political interest. Five Michigan cities already have medical marijuana ordinances. The Minnesota state Senate recently approved a medical marijuana measure, though it died on the House floor. A similar measure died in the Illinois state Senate in the past session. Other measures were debated in Ohio, Wisconsin and Missouri.
Less than four months before the November election, there is no organized opposition to Michigan's binding referendum. The Michigan State Medical Society, the state's arm of the American Medical Association, recently dropped its opposition to medical marijuana and said it will be neutral in the fall campaign.
"We're keeping an open mind that marijuana in limited amounts can help some," said Dr. Michael Sandler, a diagnostic radiologist and president of the Michigan State Medical Society.
But resistance is expected to develop, given the political volatility of the marijuana issue and the experience California has had since voters there endorsed use of medical marijuana in 1996.
The California law says that patients need a prescription to acquire the drug but it is otherwise vague. That legal opening led to the creation of so-called marijuana clubs and the large-scale growing of the drug in fields and homes. Hundreds of marijuana dispensaries are scattered around the state, and dozens of cities have cracked down on cultivation.
California endorsed "political chaos," said Allen St. Pierre, executive director of NORML, which advocates "the repeal of marijuana prohibition."
"No other state has and no other state will replicate what California did," St. Pierre said. "Every ensuing state [has approved laws] that narrowly define the types of diseases, require the amount of cannabis they can possess is relatively small and the number of plants they can possess is relatively small. And there will be absolutely no retail dispensary-like model that has emerged in California."
What Michigan proposes
With that in mind, the Michigan proposal would allow a patient to legally possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana or grow up to 12 plants in enclosed and locked facilities.
Continues: click here
Posted by Gary at July 12, 2008 10:22 AM
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