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Michigan voters approve medical marijuana measure

By JEFF KAROUB, Associated Press Writer

Nov. 5, 2008 (AP): Voters in Michigan overwhelmingly approved a medical marijuana ballot measure—making it one of a quarter of states to allow severely ill patients to use the drug.

has allowed its medical use for over 30 years. 

With 87 percent of the precincts reporting, 63 percent, or 2,557,410 people, voted ``yes'' on Proposal 1, which removes state penalties for registered patients to buy, grow and use small amounts of marijuana. Thirty-seven percent, or 1,519,273 voters, were opposed.

Only one state, South Dakota, has failed to OK a ballot attempt. Of the 12 other states with medical marijuana laws, eight stemmed from ballot initiatives; four were enacted by state legislatures.

``I think it's a real victory for the patients and their families,'' said Dianne Byrum, spokeswoman for the support group Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care. ``I just had a feeling from the very beginning this was going to pass, and it was going to resonate with the voters. ... ``Voters knew right from the beginning the medical value of marijuana.''

Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Bill Schuette, chairman of the opposition group Citizens Protecting Michigan's Kids, said he was disappointed with the outcome but not the effort.

``It appears we came up short,'' he said. ``We waged a good campaign, a hard-fought campaign. But we were severely underfunded, and that's always a challenge.''

The coalition included more than two dozen medical, law enforcement, anti-drug and other organizations, including the Michigan State Medical Society, the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan and Citizens for Traditional Values.

In campaign finance reports for the period through Oct. 19, proponents reported raising $1.5 million, most of which came from the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. The opposition group raised $125,500 for the same period.

While the measure will remove state-level penalties for registered patients using marijuana, it won't create legal dispensaries for the drug. Nor will it affect the federal ban on marijuana, which makes possessing marijuana for any purpose illegal.

Larry Lenchner, 56, of Birmingham, voted for the measure.

``If you got cancer and you're dying and you want to smoke weed, it's just another pharmaceutical to me,'' he said.

On the Net: Pro Proposal 1: http://stoparrestingpatients.org
Anti-Proposal 1: http://www.nopotshops.com






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