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Medical Marijuana Use Initiative Launches In Mich.

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An initiative that would allow seriously ill Michigan residents to use marijuana as a pain reliever without repercussions will be launched this week, The Coalition for Compassionate Care announced Wednesday.

The Ferndale-based, grassroots group plans to collect 550,000 signatures within six months for a citizen's initiative known as the Michigan Medicinal Marijuana Act. It would allow patients to grow and use small amounts of marijuana for relief from pain associated with cancer, multiple sclerosis and other diseases.

If 304,101 signatures are validated, the initiative would go to the Michigan Legislature, according to Coalition for Compassionate Care Spokeswoman Dianne Byrum. The act would appear on the November 2008 ballot if lawmakers reject or chose not to vote on it.

"This is a narrowly drafted initiative," Byrum said. "If you are going to use medicinal marijuana, it must be under a doctor's recommendation. Patients deserve to get relief from their terrible suffering without going to jail."

Byrum was unaware whether anyone has been prosecuted in Michigan for using marijuana for medical purposes.

Current Michigan law forbids marijuana use for any reason, but 12 other states permit medicinal use by patients.

There have been numerous legislative attempts to change Michigan's law in recent years, but they have gone nowhere, which is why the citizen's initiative is being launched, Byrum said.

Since 2004, voters in five Michigan cities have passed ballot initiatives allowing for medicinal marijuana use, including Detroit, Ferndale, Flint, Ann Arbor and Traverse City.

Detroiter Rochelle Lampkin uses medicinal marijuana to help ease the excruciating pain in her optic nerve, which is associated with her multiple sclerosis. She uses it occasionally and only needs a little to ease the pain.

"I don't abuse it," said Lampkin, 48. "It relaxes the optic nerve so it is not hurting in my eyes. It's a godsend."

Residents interested in volunteering for the campaign can go to the coalition's Web site, Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care.


Newshawk: CoZmO - 420Magazine.com
Source: The Detroit News (MI)
Author: Kim Kozlowski
Contact: kkozlowski@detnews.com
Copyright: 2007 The Detroit News
Website: Medical marijuana use initiative launches in Mich.
 
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