The activists behind a drive to legalize marijuana in Michigan have ended their campaign to put the issue on the statewide ballot in November, but they're pledging to renew their efforts in 2014.
The Committee for a Safer Michigan, the Detroit-based group sponsoring the effort, reached their signature collecting deadline Monday. Charmie Gholson, a spokeswoman for the group, estimated they only had about 50,000 of the 322,609 signatures needed put the issue before voters in the fall. A final count is still being conducted by the campaign.
"Women didn't earn the right to vote in six months. We didn't get rid of Jim Crow in six months. This is a marathon race," she told The Huffington Post. "We're not going away."
Gholson says the campaign has allowed organizers to gain support from what are traditionally considered to be unlikely sources, such as conservative businessmen, people of faith, firefighters, law enforcement officers and legislators.
The campaign's director, Matt Abel, believes that the group's initial effort has helped change the discussion about marijuana policy in Michigan.
"Any time we discuss it openly, it helps," he said, "It's not as taboo a subject as it used to be and more and more people are coming out of the closet, if you will, for the legalization of marijuana."
The proposed ballot initiative would have amended the state constitution to allow the cultivation, use, sale and distribution of the cannabis plant by adults over the age of 21. It would not permit the use of marijuana while driving a motor vehicle.
The organization plans to use its existing infrastructure to continue their fundraising and organizing efforts to build towards their 2014 campaign.
For that drive they plan to use paid petitioners to assist them in collecting signatures.
They hope to raise at least a million dollars to help pay for these and other costs. Their goal for the upcoming ballot drive is half a million signatures.
"People are joining this movement, not leaving," said Gholson, "We've cracked open the door and we're going to continue to kick in the door until people see the truth."
Detroiters will still be able to vote in November on an initiative to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana on private property.
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