Push set for legal pot in Michigan
Facing a law enforcement crusade, push to end cannabis prohibition gathers strength
Published: January 2, 2012
"I believe that, because the cannabis community was divided, with some growers and [medical marijuana] dispensary operators failing to get behind Prop. 19, that directly contributed to the failure" of that measure in California, says Steve Elliott, who is based in Washington state and writes a blog covering marijuana-related issues called Toke of the Town.
That sort of entrenched opposition by people who otherwise should be supporters of legalization doesn't exist in Michigan, Elliott says.
On that point, Beck agrees. There may be a disagreement about which is the best strategy to pursue at this point, but no one in the community appears to be actively opposed to a statewide legalization effort. In fact, he says, there could be a symbiotic effect created by pursuing a two-prong strategy, with local efforts helping to turn out voters who would also support statewide legalization.
The Michigan campaign could also benefit from the fact that legalization efforts are also expected to be on the ballot in at least three other states: California, Washington and Colorado.
"The more people hear about legalization initiatives under way in other states, the more realistic it sounds," says Keith Stroup, legal counsel for the national pro-legalization group NORML. "Once the national media notice that it is not just California anymore, it becomes a much bigger story. In some ways, the people from Michigan can benefit from that."
Activists in the state also hope that reason and fact will win out over heated rhetoric. As they point out on the campaign's website, no matter where you stand on the issue of marijuana, attempting to combat its use through prohibition is an expensive failure.
"This is a public health issue, not a criminal issue," says Zink. "Prohibition is a failed policy, and it is a harmful policy. We want safer communities, and we want to achieve that by having police focus on real crime so that they have the resources available to protect and serve us."
News Hits is written by Curt Guyette. Contact the column at NewsHits@metrotimes or call 313-202-8004.
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