State, local officials oppose push for medical marijuana

July 13, 2004

Korie Wilkins, The Oakland Press - Michigan

State and local officials are speaking out against a proposal that would legalize medical marijuana in Detroit, saying it could lead to looser drug laws in Michigan.

'Drugs are not something we want to have a greater amount of in the community,' said Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard. 'This is an attempt to legitimize marijuana and nothing more.'

Bouchard was joined by a host of law enforcement and legislative officials Tuesday for a news conference in Detroit against Proposal M, which will appear on the Aug. 3 primary ballot in Detroit.

If the proposal passes, it would essentially make it legal for patients - with a doctor's permission - to use marijuana. It would only be legal in Detroit and state and federal laws against marijuana possession would still apply elsewhere in the state and for nonmedical use in Detroit. Medical usage in Detroit could still be illegal as well, since state law supersedes a local ordinance.

The Detroit Coalition for Compassionate Care, the group organizing the ballot initiative in the city, could not be reached for comment.

At the news conference, leaders praised a resolution by state Rep. Alma Stallworth, D-Detroit, opposing medical marijuana. The resolution passed overwhelmingly earlier this year.

Opponents of medical marijuana say the goal of those aligned in favor of the proposal eventually want to see it - and other drugs - legalized. It's not about sick people in pain, they say, but about making drugs more accessible.

'This is basically an end-run attempt to usurp state and federal laws,' said Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca.

Gorcyca said there is little scientific evidence supporting claims that marijuana helps with pain or nausea symptoms. He also said that making drugs more accessible is a slippery slope.

Susan Hiltz of the Prevention Coalition of Southeast Michigan agreed. She said drugs should not be exempt from FDA approval and making marijuana something that's prescribed by a doctor is ludicrous.

'It's like putting penicillin use on the ballot,' she said. 'That's not how it is supposed to work.'

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