Michigan's really heating up, if you've been following the news lately. Very heated debate over the medical issue there.
Michigan voters to decide on medical marijuana
Friday, October 24, 2008
By BEN LEUBSDORF
Associated Press Writer
DETROIT (AP) ? Michigan may become the latest state to let some severely ill patients use marijuana to treat pain, nausea and other symptoms.
If the Nov. 4 ballot proposal is approved, Michigan law would allow doctors to recommend marijuana for patients with cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS and other conditions the state agrees are covered under the law.
Those patients would register with the state and could legally buy, grow and use small amounts of marijuana to relieve pain, nausea, appetite loss and other symptoms.
Similar medical-marijuana laws have been enacted in a dozen states in recent years, most by ballot initiative.
While the measure would remove state-level penalties for registered patients using marijuana, it wouldn't create legal dispensaries for the drug, nor would it affect the federal ban on marijuana.
But the Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal agencies are focused on battling large-scale drug trafficking operations, not small-scale users, said DEA Detroit office spokesman Rich Isaacson. Medical-marijuana patients typically would not be targeted by the DEA, he said.
The Michigan initiative, on the ballot as Proposal 1, is spearheaded by the Ferndale-based Coalition for Compassionate Care. Spokeswoman Dianne Byrum says the law would apply to "a very small percentage" of the population, perhaps less than half of 1 percent, and would not affect state narcotics laws except for patients who have a doctor's recommendation to use cannabis.
"When nothing else works, this is an option for them," she said.
The measure is opposed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, and Attorney General Mike Cox, a Republican.
Republican State Sen. Tom George of Kalamazoo, a medical doctor, says he believes legalizing medical marijuana is unnecessary because there are other and better medications to treat nausea, pain and other symptoms. Those include topical anti-nausea treatments and a synthetic version of marijuana's major active ingredient in a pill called Marinol.
"I just don't think there's much medical cause for" the initiative, George said.
A report by the independent Citizens Research Council of Michigan says the initiative, if passed, could create some confusion for local law enforcement officials when it comes to telling the difference between legal medical use of marijuana and illegal recreational use.