|Marijuana Petitioners Change Strategy|
Posted by FoM on April 06, 2001 at 11:01:33 PT|
By David Wahlberg, News Staff Reporter
Source: Michigan Live
Ann Arborites probably won't be asked to decide this year whether to allow medical marijuana in the city, but they could join Michigan voters next year in choosing whether to relax state pot laws.
Organizers of a medical marijuana petition rejected by the city last year have continued to gather signatures, with the goal of putting the issue before residents this fall. But the effort is falling short, they say, and most of them are shifting their attention to a statewide petition drive.
The statewide effort for a Personal Responsibility Amendment is run by PRAyes, a group led by Saginaw attorney Gregory Carl Schmid. He was to launch a petition drive today in Ann Arbor to coincide with Saturday's 30th annual Hash Bash on the University of Michigan Diag.
"Ann Arbor has earned itself a reputation for dealing head-on with this marijuana problem," Schmid said, "and it was an obvious day to start."
Schmid gathered 150,000 signatures last year to get a similar amendment on the ballot, about half of the required tally. This year, he hopes to get the necessary 302,711 names by Oct. 3. If he does, the issue would go before Michigan voters in November 2002.
The amendment would:
Allow medical marijuana for life-threatening or debilitating conditions with a doctor's note.
Allow farmers to grow and sell non-intoxicating industrial hemp.
Allow any adult to grow up to three marijuana plants and have up to 3 ounces of pot in their homes if it is kept away from children and the public.
Earmark money obtained by law enforcement agencies through marijuana-related forfeitures to go to drug education and treatment programs.
"We want an educational approach instead of an armed response to a social phenomenon," Schmid said. "I can't stand watching people get their licenses suspended for a seed of marijuana in their bedrooms or have their lives ruined for testing positive for marijuana."
A PRAyes symposium on prohibition reform advocacy was to be held today at the Michigan Theater, and petitioners on Saturday plan to approach the thousands of people expected to turn out for the Hash Bash.
Libertarians for Medical Marijuana Reform, which sponsored last year's petition drive in Ann Arbor, planned to decide this weekend whether it has enough signatures to turn the petition in to the city again, said Charles Goodman, spokesman for the group.
Goodman said it's unlikely there will be enough names and that the group is now supporting Schmid's effort. "The general consensus is that we should be redirecting our efforts at the PRAyes campaign," he said.
Last summer, the Libertarians turned in nearly 6,000 signatures to the city, well above the 4,300 valid names needed. But they were submitted on Aug. 15, the deadline for state petitions, instead of Aug. 9, the date for city charter amendments.
Goodman and the other Libertarians said City Clerk Yvonne Clark told them that Aug. 15 was the proper date, which Clark agreed she did by mistake. The only way to put the issue before voters last year was for the City Council or a judge to order it, both of which refused to do so.
If the statewide amendment passes, the city ordinance change would be unnecessary, Goodman said.
Note: Advocates to join statewide pot law reform drive as local efforts seem to be falling short.
David Wahlberg can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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