A new Michigan-based, national coalition of medical marijuana advocates is coming together to defend the rights of patients and dispensaries.
The National Patients Rights Association (NPRA) will lobby legislators, prosecutors and local governments to uphold medical marijuana laws in 16 states and Washington, D.C.
Michigan voters legalized the use of cannabis for medical purposes in 2008 with the passage of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. There are now more than 100,000 registered patients in the state.
Although there have been legal challenges to the use of medicinal marijuana since California first legalized its use in 1996, opposition in Michigan has been especially strong under the state's current attorney general, Bill Schuette.
While in office, Schuette has fought to close clinics and successfully challenged the legality of patient-to-patient sales dispensaries through the Michigan Court of Appeals.
He has also issued an opinion allowing police to seize cannabis from medical marijuana patients, arguing that federal law trumps state law when it comes to forfeiture.
Schuette told WJR-Radio host Frank Beckmann last year that he felt arguments in favor of medical marijuana were being used to justify illicit behavior.
"Sadly and tragically, this has been hijacked by pot profiteers and drug dealers who want to make a quick profit, and the real victims are the citizens in Michigan and kids that now have easy access to a gateway drug," Schuette said.
The NPRA is specifically targeting Schuette in a campaign to protect marijuana patients. A statement from the organization argues the Michigan attorney general "should not circumvent or undermine state laws for the sake of personal beliefs and should honor the will of Michigan voters."
The organization says Schuette's efforts waste public resources and harm citizens with legitimate medical needs.
Schuette's hard line on medical marijuana has also sparked a recall effort against him, as well as a campaign to for the statewide legalization of cannabis.