Source: Ann Arbor News (MI)
Author: Tom Gantert, News Staff Reporter
Published: Wednesday, November 3, 2004
Copyright: 2004 The Ann Arbor News
Contact: [email protected]
But conflict with state law may make measure short lived.
Chuck Ream was grateful to Ann Arbor voters that the medicinal marijuana proposal was approved overwhelmingly on Tuesday. Voters approved Proposal C by a 74 percent margin, 39,806-13,763. It decriminalizes marijuana when recommended by a physician.
Ream, the Scio Township resident who spearheaded a movement that collected 6,900 signatures to place the issue on the ballot, now hopes it isn't a short-lived victory.
By passing the referendum, the city now has the option not to prosecute those who use marijuana for medicinal purposes. In August, Detroit voters approved a similar ballot referendum.
The approval puts Ann Arbor in a difficult situation, some members of the City Council say, because the city charter now conflicts with the state law. In September, Gov. Jennifer Granholm sent a letter to the city saying she didn't approve of the proposed amendment to the Ann Arbor City Charter. But City Attorney Stephen Postema said in September the city hadn't decided what to do if the ballot proposal passed.
The issue could end up in court where a judge could set aside the charter amendment, making it irrelevant, City Council Member Mike Reid, R-2nd Ward, said Tuesday.
Reid said he didn't want to even put it on the ballot for fear of the problems resulting in it conflicting with state law.
"It puts the city in the uncomfortable position of being out of step with state law," Reid said. "We need to evaluate how we respond to that."
Reid said in the end, it probably "gets sorted out in the courts at the expense of the city."
Ream said the vote sends a strong message that council members can't ignore. "They are willing to take the tax dollars that hard-working Ann Arbor people give them and waste it by harassing sick people," Ream said. "This is not what the voters just indicated. If this is not a clear statement, then what could be?"
City Council Member Leigh Greden, D-3rd Ward, said he has not taken a position on medical marijuana.
"My beef has been it conflicts with state law," said Greden, an attorney. "We'll have to wait and see what happens."
Greden said there are a few options that could overturn the charter amendment.
Greden said the city could ask a judge for a ruling.
"The judge could rule the charter amendment is unenforceable," Greden said. "Then it would be irrelevant."
Greden said someone could use marijuana and get cited for it in the city and then take it to court. Eventually, a judge would rule on its legality.
Ream said what the voters say is most important.
"The people of Ann Arbor have made a moral judgment," Ream said. "It is the judgment that the medicine is obviously good and people need help when they need it."
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