Detroit voters approve allowing medical marijuana use

August 02, 2004

Sarah Kurush, Associated Press

The approval of a ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana use in the city will have little practical effect, but it sends a strong signal in favor of changing state drug laws, the initiative's backers said.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting early Wednesday, 60 percent, or 47,093 votes, were in favor of Proposal M, while 40 percent, or 31,868 votes, were against.

The vote changes the city code, creating an exception to the marijuana ban for people who use the drug for medical purposes under a doctor's direction. But it has no effect on federal and state laws that allow prosecution of those possessing or using marijuana.

The initiative's backers acknowledged their victory is largely symbolic and said they will use it to push for revision of Michigan law.

Timothy Beck, founder of the Detroit Coalition for Compassionate Care, which collected the necessary signatures to put the measure on the ballot, said he was not surprised by the outcome.

'It's very hard to find people who are against this,' he said.

Beck said his group will work with lawmakers to put the issue before the state Legislature or push for a statewide ballot initiative in 2006.

'We're just going to let this message resonate, and it is a substantial message,' Beck said. 'Sophisticated persons that vote in primaries overwhelmingly support medical marijuana.'

Opponents of the ballot initiative said it would send the wrong message to young people about drug use and is part of a push for broader legalization of marijuana. They said Wednesday they were disappointed with the outcome.

'I think it's going to do more harm than good to the city of Detroit's citizens,' said Andre Johnson, program manager for the Partnership for a Drug-Free Detroit, which had campaigned against the measure.

Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington state have passed laws allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The U.S. Supreme Court said in June that it will rule on the issue in the case of two California women who say marijuana is the only drug that eases their chronic pain.

Residents of Ann Arbor are to vote on the issue in November.

ON THE NET

Detroit Coalition for Compassionate Care: http://www.mmdetroit.org



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