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Michigan Marijuana Amendment Would End Debate Over Medicinal Use

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Michigan marijuana activists are gearing up for a campaign to amend the state's constitution to legalize the herb.

If passed, the proposed amendment would end the prohibition of marijuana in Michigan. It covers the cultivation, use, sale and distribution of the cannabis plant for adults over the age of 21.

Charmie Gholson, communications director for Committee for a Safer Michigan, the Detroit-based group sponsoring the effort, told HuffPost that media reports claiming a petition drive in favor of the amendment would start this week were a bit premature. Organizers are still waiting for the exact formatting of the proposal to be approved by the State of Michigan, but expect to make a formal announcement next week.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has spurred the legalization effort, perhaps unintentionally, outraging pro-pot activists with his adversarial stance towards the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. That law, passed by voters in 2008, allows patients who register with the state to use the plant for medicinal purposes. Nearly 129,600 patients now belong to the program.

In an recent interview with Michigan Radio, Schuette called the medical marijuana legislation "a patchwork law that is so full of holes it makes a mockery of Swiss cheese."

"We should not have nod and a wink justice," he said, adding his belief that activists had used vague language and medical allusions to sneak through a more far-ranging marijuana decriminalization.

Since taking office in 2011, Schuette has worked to shut down marijuana clinics, and to prosecute patients enrolled in the state marijuana registry.

Matt Abel, a Detroit attorney who is leading the amendment drive, recently told the Metro Times that the "blatant abuse and violation" of the medical marijuana law by police and prosecutors has left many with few options beyond amending the state constitution.

"If we don't try to do something now, it may be years before we have appropriate reform," Abel said.

Other Michigan activists have worked to decriminalize marijuana through local ordinances. In November, Kalamazoo voters approved putting possession of less than an ounce of marijuana at the lowest level priority for city police, the Metro Times reports.

A recall effort against Schuette is also underway. That measure would require 807,000 signatures by March to be placed on the November ballot.

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