Med Pot Hearings in Michigan Lead to Ballot Drive for 2008

304,000 signatures need to be gathered in 6 months in Michigan for an Initiative to legalize up to one ounce of marijuana to be put on the November, 2008 ballot. This follows on the failure of the Michigan State House to pass a medical marijuana law after hearing 90 minutes of compelling testimony.
Marijuana bill snuffed out
Advocates call for drug’s medical use; petition under way

By Chris Andrews, Lansing State Journal
November 29, 2006

Irvin Rosenfeld is a willing poster child for medical marijuana.

The Florida stockbroker suffers from a rare and painful disease called multiple congenital cartilaginous exostosis. He has received medical marijuana from the U.S. government since 1982, although the program was closed to new patients 10 years later.

Rosenfeld thinks he would have died or at least been incapacitated were it not for the 10 or so marijuana cigarettes he smokes daily.

“I’m a very productive member of society because I have the right medication,” Rosenfeld told the state House Government Operations Committee on Tuesday. “There is no need for prosecuting people who are sick.”

He testified at a hearing on legislation that would allow seriously ill patients to use marijuana legally to ease their suffering.

The committee took no action, however, and the bill will die at the end of the year when this legislative session ends. Rep. Leon Drolet, the committee’s chairman, said it will probably take a petition drive to move the issue forward.

In a separate action, a petition drive to allow recreational or medicinal use of marijuana on private property is moving forward. Organizers hope to have it on the November 2008 ballot.

Eleven states permit use of marijuana for medical purposes. Federal laws prohibit marijuana possession, but state and local authorities typically enforce state laws. In Michigan, Detroit, Ferndale, Ann Arbor and Traverse City have enacted ordinances permitting use of marijuana for medical purposes.

State Rep. Fulton Sheen said he believes such a law would do more harm than good. Sheen said his brother, who died of AIDS, used marijuana to help relieve the nausea. He said he accepted that, and doesn’t believe police would prosecute under such circumstances. But he said that once a law was passed, there would likely be continuous efforts to expand it. “I’m tired of opening doors to let the water start coming in.”

However, Laura Barber of Traverse City said she and her husband both were charged with drug possession for the marijuana her husband used to alleviate pain from multiple sclerosis and Gulf War syndrome. Their situation led to voter approval of medical marijuana there.

Connecticut state Rep. Penny Bacchiochi, a Republican, said she agonized over the issue when her husband was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer 25 years ago. A doctor pulled her aside and said she needed to buy marijuana.

“I hadn’t smoked marijuana, I had never done drugs, I knew I wanted a public career. It was a terrifying moment for me,” she told the committee. “But as I watched my husband basically die in front of me, I decided I would do it at any cost.

“For three years I went out and I bought pot for him, and I watched his remarkable recovery. Not that he recovered from the cancer, but he was able to eat, he was able to laugh, he was able to regain some quality of life,” she told lawmakers.

Scott Burns, deputy director of the White House Office on National Drug Policy, urged lawmakers not to approve the legislation.

He said the Food and Drug Administration is responsible for determining which drugs are safe and opposes legalizing medical marijuana. Dangers from smoking marijuana outweigh any potential benefits and legalizing it in some circumstances could hurt efforts to reduce illegal drug use by young people, he said.

Contact Chris Andrews at 377-1054 or Email [email protected]

This article at Lansing State Journal

Medical marijuana bill dies

Charlie Cain / Detroit News Lansing Bureau
Wednesday, November 29, 2006

LANSING — A bill to allow people with “debilitating medical conditions” to legally use marijuana to ease their symptoms died in the Michigan Legislature on Tuesday, and backers say the issue will likely be left up to voters to decide.

Following an often emotional, 90-minute hearing before a state House committee, the panel broke without taking a vote. It was the first and only hearing on the legislation, introduced a year ago.

The inaction means the bill will have to be reintroduced in a new session in January.

Supporters of the legislation, many battling diseases, packed the standing-room-only hearing room wearing red buttons that said: “Stop arresting patients for medical marijuana.”

The hearing attracted lawmakers from other states encouraging support of the bill.

Rep. Penny Bacchiochi, a Republican lawmaker from Connecticut, told members of the House Government Operations Committee that her husband was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer in 1982.

“I watched him waste away,” she said.

In the final three years before his 1994 death, she illegally bought marijuana on the street for him. The drug didn’t cure him but “he was able to laugh, able to regain a quality of life.”

Eleven states — Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington — have adopted laws to provide pot for patients with cancer, glaucoma, AIDS and other serious medical conditions.

Most laws were put on the books by a vote of the people, not legislative action.

Rep. Lamar Lemmons III, D-Detroit, the main sponsor of the bill, said he expects Michigan voters to be presented with the medical marijuana question in 2008.

Tuesday’s action followed approval Monday by the Board of State Canvassers of the form of a legislative petition proposal that would make it legal for those 18 and older to use marijuana on private property. Those found using the drug in public would be guilty of a civil infraction punishable by a $50 fine.

The measure is proposed for the 2008 statewide ballot.

Scott Burns, the deputy White House drug czar, flew in from Washington to oppose the bill.

He said the Food and Drug Administration, which for the last century has had the role of testing and approving new medications, has determined that marijuana “does not meet existing standards of safety and efficacy for modern medication.”

Burns said legalized marijuana would send a confusing signal to the nation’s youth.

Detroit News

To view compelling video of the ninety minutes of presentations, go to
COMPELLING TESTIMONY

They are organized nicely at OAKLAND COUNTY, MICHIGAN YOUTUBE

There will be an urgent need for canvassers to gather petitions for this ballot drive. Contact Oakland County NORMLHERE

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