Ann Arbor residents passed a ballot proposal, to allow the use
of marijuana for medicinal purposes, yesterday.

Proposal C will waive fines for medical marijuana patients and
their caregivers who receive the recommendation of a physician or
other qualified health professional to use marijuana for medical
treatment.

The proposal also changes the current law in Ann Arbor to lower
the fine for the third and all subsequent marijuana offenses for
non medical users to $100. These fines include possession, control,
use, giving away or selling of marijuana.

Although medical marijuana users would avoid fines under the
law, the police are not required to return any marijuana that they
may seize from patients.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm has spoken out against the use of medical
marijuana, warning it will still be illegal to use, possess or sell
marijuana under state and federal law.

In response to the passing of Proposal C, Dan Solano, a retired
Detroit police officer and medical marijuana user, said the vote
sends a positive message to the state Legislature.

He also said he feels the vote is symbolic.

“It does symbolize that the public is behind amending the
laws so patients will have safe access to cannabis,” he
said.

Scio Township Trustee Charles Ream, who has been promoting the
proposal, said, “Initially, (the proposal) will help only a
small number of people, and then it will grow to be quite a large
amount once people realize how many ailments (cannabis)
helps.”

Rich Birkett, who lost a bid for a City Council seat in Ann
Arbor’s 3rd ward, wrote the proposal. “There are quite
a few people who use medical marijuana in Ann Arbor,” Birkett
said.

Jan Paliza, a 50-year-old Ann Arbor resident, is one of those
people. At age 14, a car on Ford Road in Ypsilanti hit her, and in
1998, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, but doctors still
debate whether the diagnosis is correct. “Since my car
accident, I have felt like a doctor’s guinea pig,”
Paliza said, adding that her life is a constant struggle.

“When I take (traditional) medications, I have to deal
with the side effects.” But Paliza said when she has access
to marijuana, she feels better. “I am a better person, in
better spirits, when I smoke a joint.”

Although Proposal C has not specified conditions in which it
would be legal for patients to use marijuana, in general medical
marijuana has been shown effective in treating pain and nausea
caused by AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis and many other
disorders.

Psychiatry Prof. Kirk Bower described the pros and cons of
medical marijuana use. “The major pro is to provide relief of
symptoms for patients who do not respond to conventional
treatments,” he said.

Bower added that a major drawback of smoking marijuana for
medicinal purposes is that it carries its own risks of cancer and
other lung problems.

The Food and Drug Administration has also expressed doubt and
disdain toward the legalization of medical marijuana, suggesting
further research is needed before legalization for therapeutic uses
can be recommended

Medical marijuana is already legal in nine states including
California, Colorado and Vermont. In August, Detroit passed a law
legalizing medical marijuana in the city.

But on Nov. 29, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether or
not patients have a right to use cannabis in treating their
illnesses when recommended to do so by a medical professional. The
court’s decision could overrule Ann Arbor’s new
law.

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