Group launches medical-marijuana petition in Michigan

May 23, 2007

, Associated Press

FERNDALE, Mich. -- A group says it plans to collect 550,000 signatures within six months to get a medical marijuana initiative on next year's statewide ballot.

 

The Coalition for Compassionate Care announced Wednesday that the Michigan Medicinal Marijuana Act would allow patients to grow and use small amounts of marijuana for relief from pain associated with cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other diseases.

 

If 304,101 signatures are validated, the initiative would go to the Legislature, according to Dianne Byrum, a spokeswoman for the Ferndale-based group. The act would appear on the November 2008 ballot should lawmakers reject it or not vote on it.

 

"This is a narrowly drafted initiative," Byrum told The Detroit News for a Thursday story. "If you are going to use medicinal marijuana, it must be under a doctor's recommendation. Patients deserve to get relief from their terrible suffering without going to jail."

 

Current Michigan law prohibits marijuana use for any reason but 12 other states permit medicinal use by patients. They include Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

 

There have been numerous legislative attempts to change Michigan's law in recent years but they went nowhere, which is why the citizen's initiative was launched, Byrum said.

 

Since 2004, voters in five Michigan cities _ Ann Arbor, Detroit, Ferndale, Flint and Traverse City _ have passed ballot initiatives allowing for medicinal marijuana use. The votes were mostly symbolic, since state and federal laws prohibit use of the drug.

 

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On the Net:

 

Coalition for Compassionate Care: http://stoparrestingpatients.org/

 

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Information from: The Detroit News, http://www.detnews.com

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