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Taking on pols at the polls

Taking on pols at the polls


Higher Ground

A state vote on legalization may not win, but could at least start an important dialog

The No. 1 story about marijuana in Michigan in 2011 was the wrath anti-drug warrior Attorney General Bill Schuette unleashed on medical marijuana facilities and users. Schuette used his bully pulpit and legal resources to intimidate dispensaries, people who work at dispensaries, people who grow marijuana and medical marijuana patients — working with friendly county prosecutors (particularly in Oakland County), federal authorities and state legislators to try to put the medical marijuana genie back in the bottle.

Marijuana legalization activists are working hard to make 2012 a very different story. In reaction to Schuette's tactics, a group calling itself the Committee for a Safer Michigan is kicking off a campaign this week to amend the state constitution and flat-out legalize marijuana for adults. This is a citizens' initiative that requires collecting 322,608 valid signatures in order to get on the fall ballot.

"The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act was passed in an effort to remove patients from the line of fire," says CSM spokesperson Charmie Gholson. "They are increasingly investigated in a backlash to the MMMA. The sick and dying are in harm's way. We want law enforcement to focus on violent crime instead of going after patients and caregivers, which is increasingly happening."