Pubdate: Fri, 20 Feb 2015
Source: Detroit News (MI)
Copyright: 2015 The Detroit News
Author: Chad Livengood


Lansing - Two prominent Oakland County Republican political 
operatives are behind a new advocacy group that is exploring a 2016 
ballot initiative legalizing marijuana use if the Legislature won't 
reform the existing medicinal cannabis law.

Suzie Mitchell, a Republican political fundraiser, and GOP consultant 
Paul Welday have formed the Michigan Responsibility Council with 
other unidentified members to advocate for a state-regulated 
distribution of medical marijuana.

Mitchell, who is chairing the group, said they want lawmakers to 
create a system of "regulation with taxation" of medical marijuana to 
ensure it is safe and accessible to people in all corners of the state.

She said the existing voter-approved 2008 law is plagued with 
problems because it never created a uniform system for the 
cultivation and distribution of marijuana as a medicine, leading to a 
slew of legal problems.

"What we see now doesn't work," said Mitchell of West Bloomfield, who 
is the wife of Republican pollster and consultant Steve Mitchell.

"We really want to see how it can be delivered legally and regulated."

Both Mitchell and Welday did not rule out pursuing a 2016 ballot 
initiative to legalize marijuana for recreational use or amend the 
existing medical cannabis law.

"That's certainly one option," Welday said.

The Michigan Responsibility Council was formed after legislation 
creating a regulated dispensary system for medical marijuana died in 
the December lameduck session, Welday said.

Last week, three Republican lawmakers and a Democrat revived those 
bills, which would legalize medical marijuana products such as 
edibles and topical creams and license dispensaries of medical marijuana.

But Mitchell and Welday said they have little faith that the new 
bills will make it to Gov. Rick Snyder's desk this session.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom