The push to make Michigan one of the first states in the nation to decriminalize use, possession, and delivery of marijuana could begin in earnest this week with a petition drive to amend the state constitution.
The drive by the Committee for Safer Michigan will need to collect 322,609 signatures by July 9 to put the question of whether Michigan residents 21 and older can legally smoke marijuana on the November ballot, the Detroit News reported. The petition kickoff coincides with a question before the Michigan Supreme Court, which is scheduled this week to consider two cases with local ties related to the state's medical marijuana law.
On Dec. 1, 2010, the ACLU — on behalf of Birmingham residents Robert and Linda Lott — sued Bloomfield Hills and Birmingham for their marijuana ordinances, saying both cities were in direct violation of the 2008 Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA), which allows and provides protection for the medical use of marijuana for patients and their caregivers when used to treat debilitating medical conditions.
Last December, Oakland County Circuit Judge Colleen O'Brien dismissed the suit because neither of the plaintiffs were arrested for any alleged violations.
In July, a Wayne County judge dismissed another lawsuit filed by the Lotts and the ACLU, this time against the city of Livonia, for not allowing them to grow marijuana in a warehouse they own there. The ACLU appealed the ruling in August.
Petition proponents told the News legalizing marijuana is Michigan's next frontier, since the state's 2008 medical marijuana law is vague and has led to chaos among patients, medical authorities, and law enforcement. Opponents, however, argue decriminalizing marijuana is a mistake and won't help Michigan's most pressing problem – the economy.