United States: Statewide campaign to legalize marijuana in Michigan kicking off in Ann Arbor
By Ryan J. Stanton, Ann Arbor Political Reporter
A grass-roots group operating under the name Repeal Today For A Safer Michigan 2012 is hoping to put the question to voters in November 2012.
A draft version of the petition obtained by AnnArbor.com seeks to amend the Michigan Constitution to make pot legal for people 21 and older.
It reads as follows:
A Petition to amend the Michigan Constitution Article 1, to add:
Article 1 Section 28. Repeal of Marihuana Prohibition.
For persons at least 21 years of age who are not incarcerated, marihuana cultivation, possession, bodily internal possession, sale, acquisition, transfer, delivery, transportation, religious, medical or personal use, or possession or use of paraphernalia shall not be prohibited, abridged, or penalized in any manner; nor subject to civil forfeiture; provided that no person shall be allowed to operate a motor vehicle while impaired by any substance.
Kestenbaum said he hadn't thought much about whether such a proposal would pass, but he doesn't discount it considering the medical marijuana initiative won voter approval in 2008.
"I think this is going to be very interesting," he said. "I'm intrigued."
The legalization of medical marijuana in Michigan has been the subject of intense debate over the past few years as dispensaries have sprouted throughout the state. That includes several dispensaries in Ann Arbor, which caused city officials to spend considerable time crafting local medical marijuana ordinances.
But the future of dispensaries remains hazy.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, who has issued formal opinions restricting medical marijuana and backed efforts to close dispensaries this year, has said he believes the state's medical marijuana law has been hijacked by people who want to legalize the drug.
But supporters of legalization argue the current prohibition on marijuana has caused more problems than it's solved, including making it easier for minors to obtain the drug.
"We are a coalition of Michigan parents, teachers, attorneys, physicians, health professionals, former law enforcers and many others with a wide range of backgrounds and beliefs," the Safer Michigan site reads. "We believe police should stop enforcing marijuana prohibition and instead refocus their priorities to arrest violent criminals and other real threats to public safety."
Gholson said it wasn't the group's intention to announce the campaign yet, but now that the news is out, she's expecting some opposition, including from Schuette.
"We're going to have some big guns pointed at us," she said.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.