City voters to have say on medical marijuana

September 14, 2006

Robert Snell, The Flint Journal

FLINT - Advocates are relighting an attempt to legalize marijuana for medical purposes in the city.

A ballot measure that initially surfaced last fall before being dismissed on a technicality will be on the Feb. 27 ballot. If approved by voters, it would allow people use marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia for medical purposes under city ordinance.

The Flint Election Commission met Thursday to review the ballot language, which must be approved by the City Council, Brown said.

The City Council already has approved placing the question on the ballot, though members took no position.

"This is not meaning to suggest we support or oppose the ballot question," 7th Ward Councilman Jim Ananich said.

The change would be symbolic, city officials said, because state law bans the use of marijuana. But advocates say it would make marijuana offenses a low police priority.

Similar proposals have been approved in recent years in Ann Arbor, Ferndale, Detroit and Traverse City. Twelve states have legalized marijuana use.

The Flint Coalition for Compassionate Care submitted 2,000 signatures to the city's election commission Aug. 8 - about 800 more than required to be placed on the ballot.

"I think it indicates there is strong support in Flint," said coalition co-director Brian Morrissey, a University of Michigan-Flint student. "We hope to allow sick patients access to the medicine they need."

Critics say there already is a form of medical marijuana. It's called Marinol, a pill that helps alleviate chemotherapy side effects such as nausea and loss of appetite among AIDS patients.

But Morrissey said Marinol can have adverse side effects and cancer patients have had difficulty ingesting the pill.

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