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Local LGBT leaders voice support of Michigan proposals

By |2008-10-30T09:00:00-04:00October 30th, 2008|News|

by Jessica Carreras

On Nov. 4, amidst the slew of local, state and national elections, Michigan voters will also be casting their votes on two controversial proposals. The first, Proposal 1, would legalize the growth of marijuana for medicinal use in the state. The second, Proposal 2, will legalize stem cell research in the state.
Both have come up in other states in the recent past and both have had their share of ballot successes and failures. Currently, over 10 states support and fund stem cell research, while 12 have laws that have decriminalized or legalized medical marijuana.
In less than a week, Michigan could join both lists.

In his absentee ballot, Ferndale Mayor and CEO of Midwest AIDS Prevention Project Craig Covey has already voted yes on Proposal 1. It’s no new news to Ferndale citizens, however. Ferndale voted on similar proposal three years ago and voted overwhelmingly in favor of it.
Back then, Covey was one of the only politicians who publicly supported the measure. But things have changed, and he foresees an easy victory for Proposal 1. “I’ve watched over the years as states out west have, one by one, voted to decriminalize marijuana for medical reasons and see absolutely no reason that Michigan voters will vote any differently,” Covey said. “I suspect this will pass. I would predict it passes very comfortably.”
Opponents have said that the passage will open the door for widespread marijuana usage and could account for higher numbers of young users.
According to Covey, that’s just not true. “The bottom line is that marijuana is extremely prevalent in our society. It has been for 40 years and these particular laws and ballot initiative in no way make any kind of change with regard to teen use or youth or even adult recreational use,” he stressed. “It’s strictly decriminalizes it for medical purposes. You still are supposed to have a prescription.
“The very idea that we would want to arrest someone or even jail them because they’ve chosen to use this particular substance to feel better or to take away some of their distress, for me it’s just a crazy concept.”
And the benefits, Covey said, are clear. Most people who use marijuana for medical purposes, including cancer, HIV/AIDS and glaucoma patients, claim it helps with common problems like nausea, loss of appetite and pain.
“It’s not for everyone,” Covey admits. “It’s a choice that people make. I kind of view it along the lines of herbal or holistic type remedies or supplements that millions of Americans use in terms of vitamins and different kinds of herbal remedies.”
As for HIV patients, who often experience a loss of appetite, it can often be a struggle to get the necessary nutrition to stay healthy. Marijuana, said Covey, is a proven appetite stimulant that helps them to eat enough to get the nutrition they need.
Most importantly, Covey claimed that supporters of the measure come from vastly different groups. “The people who vote for this are not just what you might consider alternative or young college students,” he explained. “It turns out that senior citizens vote for this in overwhelming numbers as well and they tend to be conservative voters. But seniors vote for it, baby boomers, people who are libertarian, people who are liberals. There’s really a huge unorganized coalition.
“I really think people need to be open-minded and look at the real issues,” he continued. “These are not potheads voting. These are senior citizens and middle class Americans that are just trying to put a little bit of sanity back in this issue.”
Learn more at http://www.stoparrestingpatients.org

The fight for and against stem cell research has waged on nationally and in individual states for years. Opponents of it often take a pro-life stance, stating that legalizing the research will lead to cultivation of new embryonic stem cells.
Supporters, such as Cure Michigan, the primary support group of Proposal 2, argue that it has the potential to positively affect someone any person could know.
Stem cell research in Michigan, if passed, will be performed on leftover embryos that are voluntarily donated. The research, backers say, could be used to further research on cancer, HIV, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s and a number of other diseases.
Barbara Murray, executive director of AIDS Partnership Michigan and president of HIV/AIDS Alliance of Michigan, is in support. “The HIV/AIDS Alliance of Michigan has taken a position in support of voting yes on Proposal 2,” she said.
The Alliance, composed of community-based AIDS organizations APM, the HIV/AIDS Resource Center and the Lansing Area AIDS Network, was asked by Cure Michigan to publicly voice a position.
Murray said support was a logical option for her and fellow Alliance members, considering both their stances on the issue overall and the impact the research may have on HIV/AIDS.
“If anything in this research might be HIV-specific, I wouldn’t know that. I’m not a doctor,” Murray said. “But our reaction was – one of the things all of us at the table remembered very well is the first AIDS drug that had any impact. It was ACT and that drug was found in cancer research. I don’t think we need to be siloed into diseases. You never know what the outcome might be of good medical research.”
As for the passage of Proposal 2, Murray is hopeful. “I would certainly hope so,” she said. “To me, arguing against it at this particular juncture seems to come from those folks who rightly so support life. It seems to me that Cure Michigan supports life.”
Put simply, she said, voting in favor of stem cell research is “the right thing to do.”
Learn more at http://www.curemichigan.com

Between The Lines supports Proposals 1 and 2 and urges voters to vote ‘yes’ on both medical marijuana and stem cell research.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.