For University alum Charles Ream, the fight to place the issue
of marijuana legalization on the ballot has been a political and
personal crusade. The Scio Township trustee led the petition
signatures drive that was recently approved by the city
clerk’s office, allowing the issue to appear on the ballot
this November.

Ann Arbor voters will decide whether or not medical marijuana
should be legalized, a controversial question that was placed on
the ballot as a result of 7,000 petition signatures collected
through the initiative of local supporters over the course of one
year.

Ream worked to achieve the support of at least 5 percent of the
city’s population by May, the amount necessary to place a
proposal on the ballot, greatly surpassing the minimum
requirement.

The city usually uses a sampling method when checking the
validity of signatures for a petition — meaning they check
only a random selection of signatures. But in the case of the
medical marijuana initiative, the city validated the authenticity
of each signature individually by checking voter registration
cards, Ream said.

“The most important thing is for the proposal to pass for
medical uses, but we also want to make a resounding statement that
American people are fed up with federal government trying to
control their lives,” Ream said. He added that he is sure the
proposal will pass in Ann Arbor this November.

“It is outrageous for healthy people to tell sick people
that they cannot have the medicine that is making them feel better.
These people have found a way to cope with a disease and have found
a way to live,” Ream added.

It still remains unclear whether or not medical marijuana has
proven medical benefits, although according to Medical Marijuana
Detroit, it has been used to treat multiple sclerosis, migraine
headaches, glaucoma, cancer and AIDS/HIV.

But the lack of substantial scientific evidence and fear of
marijuana as a gateway drug, leads many national medical
organizations, such as the American Medical Association, the
American Cancer Society and National Eye Institute to officially
reject the idea of legalizing medical marijuana.

RC senior Rachel Frey said she agrees with legalizing marijuana
for medicinal purposes.

“In general, it’s better to use alternative forms of
medicine, things that are not necessarily developed in a lab, but
rather are natural and come from the earth, like cannabis. (Sick
people) have found something that makes them feel better,”
she said.

She added, “ The government doesn’t have the right
to tell people what to put into their bodies, especially if it is
for positive use, like medication.”

But recent RC graduate Benjamin Turbo said he is hesitant about
supporting the legalization of marijuana.

“I think drug use is a personal issue and I wouldn’t
want to tell anyone how to live their life, but … I am
unsure about how it would be distributed and I think it could be an
easy way for young children to get pot,” Turbo said.

Ann Arbor currently has a law that makes the possession of
marijuana punishable by a $25 fine. Although the sale or use of
marijuana is illegal in the United States under federal law, there
are now eight states — Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii,
Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Washington — that permit the legal
use of medical marijuana.

“The more liberal, western states … have already
legalized it and Ann Arbor represents a more liberal frame of mind
within the Midwest. There is nothing wrong with it in my moral
opinion,” said Katie Deutsch, a senior in the School of Art
and Design.

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