Grass-Rooters' Deadline 

Grass-Rooters' Deadline 
Posted by FoM on July 09, 2000 at 06:22:51 PT
By Barrie Barbie The Sagainaw News
Source: Michigan Live
A Saginaw attorney races the clock to put a statewide marijuana legalization issue on the ballot. Saginaw lawyer Gregory C. Schmid's mission to collect 325,000 signatures ends Monday, win or lose.That's when the leader of nearly 3,000 grass-roots volunteers will know whether he has gathered enough signatures to let Michigan voters decide in November if they should legalize the possession of a small amount of marijuana.
The Michigan coordinator of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws won't say how near to the goal the group is teetering.It's "too close to call," he says. "We've been getting them pouring in for months."The band of signature gatherers needs more than 302,711 signers, but Schmid says he won't turn them in unless they have at least 325,000.At least one state leader isn't rooting for Schmid and his allies."I would hope that the chances are nil," says Darnell Jackson, director of the state Office of Drug Control Policy and a former Saginaw deputy police chief and assistant prosecutor.Schmid began his pot crusade when he became angered over the government overturning a Washington, D.C., voter initiative in 1998 that legalized medical marijuana use."This isn't about marijuana anymore," he says. "It's about civil rights. "We don't encourage people to use marijuana, but we won't pretend it's evil for the government's sake."The Personal Responsibility Act would legalize the use, and possession of as much as three ounces of marijuana, including seedlings and up to three plants. It would earmark drug forfeiture funds to voluntary education and treatment programs. If the proposal passes, it would become a part of the state Constitution.The law's name is a misnomer, says Jackson."I don't think it's personally responsible to have people going around smoking marijuana," he says, adding that decriminalization would send up in smoke the idea that drugs are harmful."It clearly sends a mixed message to do drugs, and it's not OK."In an editorial opinion, Jackson also argued that two-thirds of all Americans don't want to make marijuana legal, and THC, the active ingredient in the drug advocated for medical use, is readily available in prescribed capsules."I don't think we need to legalize any more substances that people have problems with," he says.Schmid advocates education to prevent drug use, and criticizes spending billions on the war on illegal substances as well as a "country where we tell kids just say no, then dope half of them on Ritalin."The pro-initiative group may link hands with the American Civil Liberties Union to challenge a few state communities where, Schmid says, petitioners were barred from gathering signatures during Fourth of July festivities.Not only has the group battled authorities, Schmid says, but it also has contended with "paranoia" among people who believe police will arrest them if they sign a petition."It's amazing, but the world needs lunatics, too," he says.Schmid, 40, a self-avowed believer of temperance and moderation, doesn't smoke marijuana now, but once did."In college it was a required course," he says.The Personal Responsibility Amendment is at: Call Barrie Barber at 776-9725. Published: Sunday, July 9, 2000Copyright 2000 Michigan Live Inc. Related Articles:Man Says Tally Close on Pot Petition Drive Attendance High At Marijuana March Drive Seeks To Legalize Homegrown Pot 
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