More MS news articles for Nov 2001

Detroit might vote on medical marijuana

November 23, 2001, 4:12 AM

DETROIT (AP) -- Organizers of a drive to stop enforcement of many drug laws in Detroit concerning the medical use of marijuana say they have enough signatures to get the issue on the city ballot in August.

Tim Beck, the head of the Detroit Medical Marijuana Initiative, said his group has collected 8,022 signatures on petitions that will be presented to the City Clerk's Office the first week of December.

The city's Department of Elections then must check the signatures. At least 6,140 signatures of registered Detroit voters, representing 3 percent of the votes cast for mayor in the last election, must be validated.

"This is a well-financed effort, backed by some very high-quality individuals in the community," Beck told the Detroit Free Press for a Friday story.

"What this does, in essence, is make medical use of marijuana -- in consultation with a medical professional -- the lowest law enforcement priority of the Detroit Police Department," Beck said this week. "It doesn't make marijuana use legal. We can't do that because of Supreme Court rulings."

The proposal would bar the city from spending money to arrest or prosecute anyone possessing small amounts of marijuana -- three or fewer mature plants or the dried equivalent -- for medical use.

The marijuana use would have to be recommended by a licensed physician or other authorized health care professional.

Cmdr. Harold Cureton of the Detroit police narcotics section said he has no opinion one way or the other on the proposed ordinance.

Wayne County Sheriff Robert Ficano, who is a lawyer, said the proposal is filled with legal problems.

"This is an issue that has to be dealt with by the state Legislature," Ficano said. Medical marijuana use is "very debatable because you can get the same benefits from medications that can be prescribed legally without having to smoke marijuana."

Beck said he doubts such a proposal could be approved statewide, but if it succeeds in Detroit, similar drives would be tried in other cities.

Copyright © 2001 Detroit Free Press Inc