Pot Petition Drive is Under Way 

Pot Petition Drive is Under Way 
Posted by CN Staff on May 06, 2005 at 07:46:29 PT
By Dawson Bell, Free Press Staff Writer
Source: Detroit Free Press
Michigan -- Marijuana laws in Michigan would be transformed from among the harshest in the country to the most liberal under a proposed amendment to the state constitution that backers hope to place before voters in 2006.A group based in Sterling Heights called Win-the-War has begun circulating petitions for a proposal to regulate marijuana in Michigan in the same way as liquor, and hopes to collect more than 320,000 petition signatures by Oct. 1.
Bruce Ritchie, who describes himself as a full-time activist, told a panel of state elections officials Thursday that legalization of marijuana would lead to myriad benefits, including: Lowering crime and the use of hard drugs by getting marijuana out of the underworld. Protecting kids by setting the legal age of consumption at 21. Saving taxpayer money and resources now devoted to a failed war on drugs. Promoting liberty and individual freedom.The Board of State Canvassers approved the form of a petition being used by the group, but made clear that it was not endorsing the proposal.Ritchie, who uses the nom de guerre Z. Harris (a character in the Doonesbury comic strip), said after the meeting that Win-the-War has enough money to print petitions -- $3,000 to $4,000 -- and about 400 volunteers. And he expressed optimism that more money will become available.Michigan marijuana activists have tried at least three times since the mid-1990s to place liberalization before voters, but failed to collect enough signatures twice.A third initiative collected the signatures but was short-circuited by a mistake in drafting the amendment language. That effort was financed by a national network of wealthy supporters, however, and Ritchie said he is not expecting that kind of support.By making marijuana legal to grow and possess, and establishing a system of in-state commercial sale, Michigan would become the most marijuana-friendly state in the country, Ritchie said.Voters in several other states approved marijuana use for medicinal purposes during the last decade.But the success rate for ballot proposals nose-dived in 2002, and no state has legalized pot for adults generally.Ritchie said if the measure is on the ballot and approved it would almost certainly be challenged by the U.S. Justice Department as a violation of federal regulation. But he said it was carefully drafted to survive such a challenge.Note: Proposal seeks state regulation; backers aim for 2006 ballot.Newshawk: MayanSource: Detroit Free Press (MI)Author: Dawson Bell, Free Press Staff WriterPublished: May 6, 2005Copyright: 2005 Detroit Free PressContact: letters freepress.comWebsite: The War -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on May 06, 2005 at 08:10:04 PT
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Initiative Seeks To Legalize MarijuanaWin-the-War wants to put issue on ballotBy Stacey Range, Lansing State JournalPublished May 6, 2005Michigan -- Marijuana would be sold and regulated in Michigan the same as liquor under a proposal activists are hoping to get on the 2006 ballot.Win-the-War, an activist group based in Sterling Heights, started gathering signatures last month to put the initiative legalizing marijuana before voters. The group's petition wording was approved Thursday by the Board of State Canvassers.If approved, the citizens' initiative would push Michigan further than any other state toward legalizing marijuana and condone the possession, purchase or sale of pot and hemp products by adults 21 and older."This is about controlling and regulating marijuana to take it off the streets and out of the black market," said Bruce Ritchie, the effort's executive coordinator.In addition to legalizing pot for adults, the measure would allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to patients under 21.East Lansing resident Carrie Hale said she would vote against the measure. Hale, 71, recalls a speech she heard in the 1970s by a recovering drug addict who referred to marijuana as a gateway drug."That has always stuck with me," she said.The group has collected about 12,000 of the needed 317,757 valid signatures for the measure to appear on the ballot.Signatures must be collected by Oct. 1.Snipped:Complete Article:
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