Marijuana Policy Project‘s initiative to legalize medical marijuana passed in Michigan and the marijuana decriminalization initiative passed in Massachusetts. MPP and allies across the country passed 9 out of 10 marijuana-related ballot initiatives and defeated a bad initiative. Click here to review the ballot initiatives!
Voters say yes to medical marijuana
Posted by Jeff Karoub at Michigan Live
Voters in Michigan overwhelmingly approved a medical marijuana ballot measure – making it one of a quarter of states to allow severely ill patients to use the illegal drug. With 87 percent of the precincts reporting, 63 percent (or 2,557,410 people ) voted “yes” on Proposal 1, which removes state penalties for registered patients to buy, grow and use small amounts of marijuana. Thirty-seven percent, or 1,519,273 voters, were opposed.
In Washtenaw County, more than 71 percent of voters favored Proposal 1. County residents cast 127,683 votes for the proposal and 50,949 against it. Livingston County voters also approved the measure, 60,525 to 36,293. Of the 12 other states with medical marijuana laws, eight stemmed from ballot initiatives; four were enacted by state legislatures. Only one state, South Dakota, has failed to OK a ballot attempt.
“I think it’s a real victory for the patients and their families,” said Dianne Byrum, spokeswoman for the support group Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care. “I just had a feeling from the very beginning this was going to pass, and it was going to resonate with the voters. … Voters knew right from the beginning the medical value of marijuana.”
Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Bill Schuette, chairman of the opposition group Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Kids, said he was disappointed with the outcome – but not the effort. “It appears we came up short,” he said. “We waged a good campaign, a hard-fought campaign. But we were severely underfunded, and that’s always a challenge.”
The coalition included more than two dozen medical, law enforcement, anti-drug and other organizations, including the Michigan State Medical Society, the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan and Citizens for Traditional Values. Opponents launched their first TV ad last week that says so-called “pot shops” exploded in California when that state passed a medical marijuana law. Critics such as law enforcement officials say Michigan’s law wouldn’t prevent the proliferation of stores that grow and sell marijuana.
Backers responded that the Michigan measure was significantly different from California’s law. Proposal 1 advocates ran ads urging voters to support the measure. In campaign finance reports for the period through Oct. 19, proponents reported raising $1.5 million, most of which came from the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. The opposition group raised $125,500 for the same period.
While the measure will remove state-level penalties for registered patients using marijuana, it won’t create legal dispensaries for the drug. Nor will it affect the federal ban on marijuana, which makes possessing marijuana for any purpose illegal.
Larry Lenchner, 56, of Birmingham, voted for the measure. “If you got cancer and you’re dying and you want to smoke weed, it’s just another pharmaceutical to me,” he said.
Claire Luczak, a 20-year-old junior at the University of Michigan, said she voted against the proposal because she thought it was too lax. “It would be too easy to get it,” she said. “I know hundreds of people who smoke pot, and I think people would get it for recreational use and not legitimate reasons.”