Faced With Crackdown, Michigan MMJ Community Pursuing Full Pot Legalization

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What happens when a state allows medical marijuana sales but then backtracks and tries to more or less to shut down the entire industry?

Pot advocates switch their focus from the medical aspect of pot to the decriminalization of the drug in general.

At least that’s what is happening in Michigan, where hundreds of dispensaries closed shop last year after a damaging court ruling and aggressive actions by the state’s attorney general to target the industry.

In response to the crackdown, a group of marijuana supporters that includes teachers, doctors, law enforcement officials and lawyers is now trying to get an initiative on the fall ballot that would amend the state constitution to end state prohibition of marijuana. The advocates aim to “get Michigan law enforcement completely out of the marijuana picture.”

It’s a tall order, to be sure. But the MMJ crowd is left with little choice as they see the industry they invested millions of dollars in disintegrate. If successful, they could sidestep the state and help pave the way for more MMJ-friendly policies.

Supporters need to get more than 322,608 signatures by early July, which must be validated by state election officials. The measure would then appear on the November ballot.

Michigan’s medical marijuana industry has taken a complete about-face over the past year. Voters legalized the use of cannabis for medical reasons in 2008, and dispensaries began popping up shortly thereafter. However, the state law didn’t specify how patients could get the drug, and a judge eventually ruled that dispensaries are in effect illegal.

Many medical marijuana centers shut down after the ruling, though some remain open and are risking prosecution.