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Marijuana Petitions Are Ready For Review


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Backers to submit forms to state board on medicinal use.

George Griffiths of Delhi Township would like to see marijuana legalized.

But at a minimum, he believes it should be available to ease the suffering of seriously ill patients.

"I've always considered that the so-called war on drugs has been almost as disastrous as Iraq," said Griffiths, 78, who signed a petition last week to put the medical marijuana measure on the 2008 ballot.

Supporters of medical marijuana will ask the Board of State Canvassers today to approve the petition forms they have been using for two weeks. Within the next six months, they will need to collect 304,101 valid signatures to put the measure before voters.

Momentum has been building in Michigan, as five cities have adopted ordinances to permit medical marijuana.

Twelve states have enacted such laws. Supporters want to add Michigan to the list.

"If it's limited to medical marijuana there is generally support," said Ed Sarpolus, vice president of the Lansing polling firm EPIC-MRA.

"If it's legalized marijuana, the answer is no. People do make a distinction."

Under the Michigan proposal, people with a variety of debilitating conditions could legally grow and use marijuana if their doctor recommends it. They would need to register with the Michigan Department of Community Health and get a state-pictured identification card.

"This is something that would be a decision between the doctor and their patient as to what treatment would be best for the individual," said Dianne Byrum, spokeswoman for the Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care, which is making the push. "Not all medicines work the same from one individual to the next."

Byrum said medical marijuana laws have been endorsed by a number of national health groups, including the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Nurses Association. But in Michigan, the Michigan State Medical Society opposes medical marijuana except in regulated research.

Dr. Kenneth Elmassian, an anesthesiologist who is on the group's board of directors, said other medicines are available for pain and symptom control. "Obviously, marijuana has euphoria to it. ... Whether or not it has true analgesic properties, pain relief properties, might be suspect or questionable."

Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth said legalizing medical marijuana would be a huge mistake.

"How would you enforce this once it became enacted?" he asked. "Everybody's going to say they've got some ailment whether they've got a prescription for it or not."

Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III said such a law would be difficult to regulate. Drug dealers could still be prosecuted, he said, and patients could even potentially face prosecution under federal law. He also said it would be difficult to set up an effective distribution system because of federal laws.

But Byrum said other states have had success.

There have been five marijuana ballot proposals submitted to Michigan's Board of State Canvassers since 1994. None has made it to the ballot. This is the first one targeting medical use.

Newshawk: CoZmO - 420Magazine.com
Source: Lansing State Journal (MI)
Author: Chris Andrews
Contact: candrews@lsj.com
Copyright: 2007 LSJ.com
Website: Lansing State Journal: Marijuana petitions are ready for review
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