Friday, September 26, 2008


A majority of Michiganians is inclined to legalize marijuana for sick
people, but a second statewide ballot proposal to relax restrictions
on stem cell research in Michigan is a closer contest -- and the
advertising blitz has just begun on that measure.

The latest Detroit News-WXYZ Action News poll found that the voters,
by a 59-37 margin, favor the ballot proposal to allow terminally and
seriously ill people to legally use marijuana if a doctor certified
the drug could ease their suffering.

The statewide poll was conducted for The News, WXYZ and three
outstate television stations from Saturday to Monday by Lansing's
EPIC-MRA. It showed that the biggest backers were women (63 percent
support), Metro Detroiters (60 percent) and Democrats (68 percent).
Among men, the proposal garnered 51 percent support and 49 percent of
Republicans favored it.

If Proposal 1 is approved by voters in November, Michigan would
become the 13th state to legalize medical marijuana. Supporters
estimate that as many as 50,000 Michigan residents would legally
qualify for medical marijuana to treat a host of "debilitating"
medical problems such as cancer, HIV /AIDS, hepatitis C, Alzheimer's
disease, Crohn's disease and chronic diseases or their treatments
that produce wasting syndrome, severe pain, sever nausea, seizures or
muscle spasms, such as those caused by multiple sclerosis.

"I'm all for it," said poll participant Jeff Bergel, a 52-year-old
wholesale representative and father of two from Walled Lake.

"I lost a brother-in-law to brain cancer last year and I think
marijuana could have helped make his more comfortable. My dad has
glaucoma and I understand it could help him as well."

On the controversial issue of stem cells, poll respondents, by a
50-32 margin, favor amending the state Constitution to allow
scientists to derive embryonic stem cells from human embryos for
medical research. Support among women is 57 percent compared to 42
percent among men. Support is 56 percent in Metro Detroit, but 45
percent among voters in the rest of the state.

Michigan has one of the nation's most restrictive laws on stem cell
research; a scientist here who uses new human embryos for stem cell
research can face a $10 million fine and up to 10 years in prison.

Supporters of embryonic stem cell research say research could lead to
better therapies and possible cures for a host of diseases and
injuries such as cancer, Parkinson's, juvenile diabetes and spinal
cord injuries. Opponents -- including political heavy hitters Right
to Life of Michigan and the Michigan Catholic Conference -- say
research on human embryos is morally wrong because it destroys life.
Critics of the measure also say its adoption could lead to human
cloning, although the proposal doesn't seek to change state law that
already bans cloning.

"I've thought about it a lot and I think stem cell research would be
all right," said Regina Gerling, a grandmother from Muskegon who took
part in the poll.

"I'm a diabetic, so I wish they would find new cures." Law
enforcement groups are near unanimous in their opposition to medical
marijuana, saying it's part of a broader agenda to legalize marijuana
for everyone. But there doesn't appear to be any group ready to spend
money on an ad campaign to defeat the measure.

Michael Opland, a 64-year-old father of three from Harrison Township,
said he supports medical marijuana, although he believes a lot of
people would get the marijuana even though their medical conditions
wouldn't warrant it.

"A certain number of people would probably take advantage of the
law," he said. "But it's worth it to get marijuana to people who
really need it."

The stem cell campaign is likely to get red-hot in the coming weeks.
Opponents of the proposal started running TV commercials this week,
suggesting that Michigan taxpayers would shell out hundreds of
millions of dollars for the research. The opposition group, Michigan
Citizens Against Unrestricted Science and Experimentation, filed a
financial statement with the state on Thursday, showing it has rose
about $595,000 -- including $500,000 from the Catholic Conference --
and had $233,000 on hand as of Sept. 18.

Supporters of stem cell research have not yet launched an ad
campaign, although they are expected to shortly. They say the ballot
proposal doesn't direct a dime of state money to research. The group,
CureMichigan, filed its financial statement on Thursday, showing it
had raised $2.27 million and had $257,000 on hand. It also has loans
and obligations of more than $1.5 million, including more than $1
million in loans from the A. Alfred Taubman Trust of Bloomfield Hills.

Judith Maser, a retired clothing buyer from Novi, was originally
opposed to stem cell research.

"Now I believe stem cell research could help a lot of people," she
said. "I think medicine has gotten so advanced that this is the
future for our young people

Newshawk: Updated Website: YES on 1
Pubdate: Thu, 25 Sep 2008
Source: Detroit News (MI)
Copyright: 2008 The Detroit News
Author: Charlie Cain, Detroit News Lansing Bureau
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)

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