DETROIT (WWJ) - A brand new campaign to legalize marijuana in Michigan kicked off Friday.
A grass-roots committee working toward ending marijuana prohibition in Michigan is campaigning to amend state law and legalize marijuana use for adults 21 and older. The amendment would not apply to or change workplace or driving issues regarding marijuana.
Supporters say they'll be passing around petitions for the proposed constitutional amendment in Michigan. Attorney Matthew Abel predicts they'll be able to get the 300,000 signatures needed to get the measure on the November ballot.
"We're doing this as a volunteer effort. We're not paying petitioners. However, we have an army of committed people who are upset about this. There are over 130,000 medical marijuana patients, and most of them are not happy with the government and the way that this has been dealt with," said Abel.
Abel points to recent polls that show more Americans support legalizing marijuana than those who oppose it. He said the support for legalization among Americans is between 46 and 50 percent, up from 36 percent five years ago and 25 percent in the late nineties.
WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick said the group might have more voter support these days, but he doubts they'll win at the ballot box.
"They can probably get the signatures but they probably can't get the votes. The polling data in Michigan, according to Tim Beck who ran that petition drive on medical marijuana, right now legalization of marijuana starts at about 50 percent, which just simply isn't high enough based on tradition. When you start a petition drive, you want to have around 58 or 59 percent support because once the opposition gets in gear, those numbers go down," said Skubick.
Abel, who is the campaign director, said Michigan is the perfect setting for legalizing the drug, as the state led the way in ending alcohol prohibition.
"We believe that prohibition is a failed policy. Alcohol prohibition did not work and marijuana prohibition is not working. Michigan was the first state to repeal the alcohol prohibition and we feel it's incumbent upon us to continue to be a leader," said Abel.
Find information on how to sign a petition at repealtoday.org.
So, how do Metro Detroiters feel about legalizing marijuana? WWJ's Sandra McNeill has been asking the question.
Stan Zombek of Rochester said it's all about freedom as Americans.
"Adults should be able to smoke marijuana if they want to. As long as they're adults and, you know, the same kind of controls like alcohol with no minors and no driving and being high, that kind of stuff, then why not? Now, if they're selling heroin or something that's different. But a little bit of marijuana, who cares?" Zombek said.
"John" from Oak Park thinks it would be a good idea to legalize the drug.
"Absolutely. The people, I think, are less violent, less likely to get into trouble, you know, they're not mean-spirited. Have you ever seen anybody that's high be violent? No, everybody is just laid back and hungry," he said.
Dan Miller of Ann Arbor is also for legalization, under the belief that it's better for you than alcohol.
"It seems to me that it's one of those things that time and time again it's been proven to be safer than alcohol, in terms of physical effects, health effects. In terms of social consequences, it seems to me that the most harm from that comes from locking people up," he said.
But Ralph Barry of Novi disagrees, saying marijuana puts more than just the user at danger.
"I'm pretty much against legalizing marijuana mostly for the driving, people driving. Now if you legalize it, there's going to be more people that are smoking behind the wheel," he said.
Suzette Schultz of Rochester said the laws on marijuana are fine the way they are.
"It just causes too many problems and I think we have enough problems with alcohol and cigarettes that we need to work on. Why would you add something like that? I just think it's a mistake," she said.
Lisa Torrence of Ypsilanti agreed.
"Anything that can alter your thinking, your mood, your reactions, needs to be contained," she said.
But some, like Ken Wardlaw of Walled Lake, said he doesn't really care either way.
"I mean, it doesn't affect me really because I don't smoke it. I don't know, I mean, I'm kind of neutral as far as other people doing it, so it doesn't really affect me," he said.
Where do you stand? Leave your comments below.
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