March 3, 2016

Activists Challenge Detroit Medical Marijuana Ordinance

March 3, 2016
detroit michigan marijuana

detroit michigan marijuanaA pair of hotly contested ordinances passed by Detroit’s City Council to shrink the city’s medical marijuana dispensary population were to be rolled out on March 1, but have been halted by cannabis industry activists.

Petitions were filed today at the Detroit City Clerk’s office to initiate referendums against the ordinances, one of which was passed in December and another passed in October. The Clerk stamped the documents as received and verified that there were at least 4,055 signatures on each set of petitions, said Greg Pawlowski of the organization Citizens for Sensible Cannabis Reform (CSCR). He is a Detroit resident, a member of the Michigan chapter of Americans for Safe Access, and an entrepreneur.

The task of verifying the validity of the signatures begins on Wednesday; the City has ten days to inform advocates how many signatures were appropriate and how many more are needed to fulfill the referendum requirements.

The petition campaign will have fifteen days after that notification to submit enough valid signatures to hit the 4,055 mark. Referendum law states that, once accepted by the City Clerk, implementation of the ordinance is question is halted until either the petition campaign is denied approval by the clerk or the voters decide during a general election. If the petition campaign is successful in submitting signatures, the pair of proposals will appear on the August primary election ballot.

The timing of the petition submission comes at a bad time for the Clerk’s office. Michigan’s primary election is held on March 8, and the Clerk’s office was already busy preparing to collect ballots across the city. The ten day time period for determining validity rates of the submitted petitions is a bright-line requirement contained in law.

The Clerk’s certification of the petition numbers is a classic tale of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

On February 29 all the petitions for the two proposals were gathered in a front room of a Detroit business. Jamie Lowell, who is the Treasurer of CSCR, Pawlowski and I separated the petitions and began a hand count. We made a very conservative count, and determined that there were not enough signatures to move forward by the end of business on February 29. We were within a few hundred of our target on both petitions.

But the forms kept coming in.

Even as we spoke about the next step in fighting the ordinance, more petitions were brought to our location. Pawlowski, along with Detroit businessman and former Congressional candidate George Brikho, decided to gather the new arrivals and be at the Clerk’s office early. One of the two petition collections was determined by the Clerk’s office to have 4,087 signatures- just 32 more than required by law.

The petitions were certified. The strategy of ‘never quit’ worked. Pawlowski spent a lonely day downtown at the Coleman A Young Municipal Building, but it was worth it.

Source: The Compassion Chronicles


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