The 2012 Michigan Ballot Initiative to End Marijuana Prohibition, sponsored by a grassroots group named Repeal Today For A Safer Michigan 2012, hopes to give the voters a chance to decide for themselves next November, reports Ryan J. Stanton at AnnArbor.com.
"We do have language written and petitions getting ready," said RTFASM supporter T.J. Rice on Wednesday afternoon.
The petition seeks to amend the Michigan state constitution to legalize marijuana for people 21 and older.
Ironically, the momentum of the legalization campaign seems to have been greatly accelerated by notoriously anti-marijuana Attorney General Bill Schuette. The AG -- who claims that Michigan's medical marijuana law has been hijacked by people who just want to get high -- has been throwing his weight around all over the state, trying to shut down dispensaries and intimidate medicinal cannabis providers. He even infamously said at one point "this is Michigan, not a Cheech and Chong movie."
|Detroit Free Press|
|Hey, Attorney General Bill Schuette: Thanks for helping the effort to legalize marijuana in Michigan. Against your wishes. Dumbass.|
Detroit Metro Times reporter Curt Guyette told Toke of the Town on Thursday that Schuette's stubborn anti-dispensary campaign has convinced many medical marijuana suppliers in Michigan that they'll only be safe once cannabis is legalized for everyone, thus possibly avoiding the split in the marijuana vote that doomed Proposition 19 to failure in California in 2010.
"Atty. Gen. Schuette may have done more to unite and galvanize the marijuana community in Michigan -- by setting such a negative example -- than anyone else," Guyette told us.
The language of the ballot petition is simple and minimalist; it follows here in its entirety.
A Petition to amend the Michigan Constitution Article 1, to add:
Article 1 Section 28. Repeal of Marihuana Prohibition.For persons at least 21 years of age who are not incarcerated, marihuana cultivation, possession, bodily internal possession, sale, acquisition, transfer, delivery, transportation, religious, medical or personal use, or possession or use of paraphernalia shall not be prohibited, abridged, or penalized in any manner; nor subject to civil forfeiture; provided that no person shall be allowed to operate a motor vehicle while impaired by any substance.
For the petition to qualify for the November 2012 ballot, advocates must gather more than 322,600 signatures from Michigan registered voters.
|Charmie Gholson, Repeal Today For A Safer Michigan: "People have waited a long time for this, and they're ready to get to work"|
Actual collection of signatures won't begin until the campaign officially kicks off in mid-January, according to Charmie Golson, communications director for the legalization campaign.
"The AnnArbor.com article is misleading," Gholson clarified on her Facebook page Thursday afternoon. "There is no 'event' kicking off the campaign tonight in Ann Arbor, but rather a volunteer organizing event, just like we've been doing for weeks.
"The official kick off for the petition circulating efforts will be on January 12, although with this leak to the press we're getting a lot of media attention," Gholson, who is co-owner and editor of the Midwest Cultivator, said.
"Please continue organizing volunteers and sending folks to our web page, www.repealtoday.org," Gholson said. "Also, we are accepting much-needed donations. Checks can be made out to 'Committee for a Safe Michigan.' "
"Everybody's really excited," Gholson said, reports Aaron Aupperlee of the Jackson Citizen Patriot. "People have waited a long time for this, and they're ready to get to work."
Steve Sharpe, a medical marijuana patient who volunteered to help the campaign, said he thinks it will be a success.
"Everybody that I've talked to said it should be legalized," Sharpe said. "We want the public to be involved in this because it's their health, and it's their money."
"I would expect if they have enough people together on this, they probably could get it on the ballot," said Washtenaw County Clerk Lerry Kestenbaum, who called getting an initiative "much more doable" than, for example, trying to recall a governor. The signature requirement is 2.5 higher for a governor recall than for a ballot initiative, a hurdle that stalled an effort to recall Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder earlier this year.
"To do something like this, you would have to circulate it not just at the farmer's market or something like that, but probably going to door," Kestenbaum said. "I think this is going to be very interesting. I'm intrigued."
According to Rice, the cannabis legalization campaign is getting legal assistance from Detroit-based criminal defense lawyer Matthew Abel, who specializes in marijuana cases.
"We are a coalition of Michigan parents, teachers, attorneys, health professionals, former law enforcers and many others with a wide range of backgrounds and beliefs," the Safer Michigan site reads. "We believe police should stop enforcing marijuana prohibition and instead refocus their priorities to arrest violent criminals and other real threats to public safety."