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Michigan: First Medical Marijuana State in the Midwest!

Jag Davies,
Drug Law Reform Project
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November 5, 2008

With today’s victory for the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, Michigan voters have pulled off a major breakthrough for the medical marijuana movement.Michigan is the first state in the Midwest to approve it — and, with 10 million people, it’s also the second most populous state to do so.

Medical marijuana isn’t a new issue in Michigan. Voters in five Michigan towns and cities – Ann Arbor, Detroit, Ferndale, Flint, and Traverse City — have previously approved medical marijuana, and legislation attempting to do so has been introduced in the Michigan legislature several times.

Michigan’s new law, sponsored by the Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care, will allow patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions including cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, hepatitis C, MS and other conditions to use marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. It would require the department to create an ID card system for qualified patients and their designated caregivers and would allow patients and caregivers to grow small amounts of marijuana indoors in a secure facility, with limits on the amount they could possess. It would permit both registered and unregistered patients and caregivers to assert a medical necessity defense to any prosecution involving marijuana. At the same time, it would place some restrictions on the medical use of marijuana, including prohibitions on public use of marijuana and driving under the influence of marijuana.

The initiative’s passage is all the more amazing considering the well-funded opposition campaign’s desperate and blatantly dishonest attempts to stoke the fears of Michigan voters.

Over the past dozen years, 14 states have now passed laws protecting patients who use medical marijuana when recommended by a physician. Medical marijuana ballot initiatives have been passed in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, while losing only in South Dakota. In addition, over the past five years, Maryland, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Vermont have passed medical marijuana laws through the state legislative process.

Now that nearly a quarter of Americans live in a state that recognizes the medical legitimacy of medical marijuana when used with a doctor’s recommendation, let’s hope the new Obama administration makes good on his campaign promises to end the federal government’s deliberate campaign to undermine state laws.

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