Pubdate: Sat, 02 Jun 2012
Source: Detroit Free Press (MI)
Copyright: 2012 Detroit Free Press
Author: Bill Laitner


After a nearly two-year legal battle, the Michigan Supreme Court
cleared the way Friday for a referendum question that could make
Detroit the state's first city to legalize marijuana.

Voters in the Aug. 7 primary election can expect to see the question
- -- asking them to legalize possession and use of up to 1 ounce of the
drug, on private property, by those 21 and older, said Tim Beck, a
Detroiter who heads the referendum group Coalition for a Safer Detroit.

"A long trail of voter abuse by the City of Detroit has come to an
end," said Beck, 60, in an e-mail to supporters.

"We got everything right. Our petitions were flawless," said Beck, a
medical-marijuana user who owns Michigan Benefit Providers, a Detroit
consulting firm.

In a brief order Friday, the Supreme Court denied the city's motion
for immediate consideration of its appeal.

A longtime advocate of legalizing the drug, Beck also backed passage
in November of a referendum in Kalamazoo, which made arrests for pot
possession that city's lowest priority. "Voters are saying that we
just can't afford this type of policing anymore," he said.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Dave Bing said Friday that he had no

Unavailable for comment Friday, according to a representative, was
City Council President Charles Pugh, who was outspoken in his
opposition to the proposal in 2010, when it came before the City Council.

Pugh, as chairman of the Detroit Election Commission, was part of the
commission's 3-0 vote in August 2010 to block the referendum from city

That vote triggered the legal battle that led to a state Court of
Appeals ruling in February that rebuffed the city and said the ballot
question should be allowed. The city's appeal of that decision took
the dispute to the state Supreme Court.

Marijuana supporters, including those who use the drug as medicine,
hailed Friday's decision.

"Anything that keeps law enforcement away from patients and caregivers
is good," said Steven Greene, host of the weekly Medical Marijuana
Radio Show, at noon Saturdays on WDTW-AM (1310).

Detroit police spokeswoman Sgt. Eren Stephens said Friday that the
department would adapt to legalization "if it's handled in an
appropriate way, and this is what the citizens of Detroit choose."
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