Know your props on election day

By Masudur Rahman

Senior Reporter

If American citizens want to see reform in the government or a law passed, they usually have to elect a representative and hope the elected official will do what they’d like to make happen — something that can take a long time or may never happen. But this year, there are two proposals on hot-topic issues that Michigan voters can turn into law without going through the hassles of congress: medical marijuana and stem cell research.

These are two citizen-initiated ballot-measure proposals that Michigan citizens can vote for on Nov. 4. Proposal 1 and Proposal 2 are state-wide, and if passed, will change laws only within Michigan.

Typically, proposals get on the ballot by organizations or groups of citizens who feel their elected officials aren’t passing certain reforms fast enough, or at all. Ballot proposals are a form of direct democracy that citizens vote on directly and decide whether or not to make them law.

Before being on a state ballot, the petitioners of each proposal need to collect a certain amount of signatures of valid citizens who live in that state. According to, this year in Michigan, the required minimum was 380,126 valid signatures.

There were several other proposal initiatives, but only three of them collected enough signatures in time, and one was thrown out by Michigan Court of Appeals (involving reforms of the pay and benefits for Michigan state executive officials, legislators and judges). The two remaining for voters are Proposal 1 and Proposal 2.

Proposal 1:

Use and cultivation of marijuana for specified medical conditions, by Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care

• Change Michigan law so that marijuana can be used by patients with certain medical conditions.

• If passed, Michigan would be the 13th state to allow medical marijuana.

• The patients would need a prescription from licensed doctors, which they’ll get only if they suffer from diseases like cancer, glaucoma, HIV, Aids, hepatitis C, MS, other diseases that cause chronic pain, etc.

• Studies have found marijuana to be able to relieve pain for a period of time, but marijuana is more commonly used to recreationally “get high.”

• Proposal 1 would not only allow these patients to use marijuana for medical purposes (not for recreational purposes), but also allow them to grow a limited amount of marijuana plants in a locked facility, like their house.

• The marijuana is to be used for only these medical purposes, and the proposal allows for punishments for those found to be using it recreationally or selling it, or committing fraud to get it.

• Proposal 1 would also create a state registry for licensed users and growers.

• Opponents of Proposal 1 say this law would make marijuana more accessible to children and there are other (legal, made by pharmaceutical companies) drugs patients can take to relieve pain. But proponents say other drugs don’t relieve the pain in some patients, and that they’re very expensive.

Proposal 2:

Human embryonic stem cell research, by Cure Michigan

• Change the Michigan state constitution so that human embryonic stem cell research is allowed.

• Michigan is one of only four states that don’t allow human embryonic stem cell research.

• Stem cell research is allowed in America, but some states don’t allow human embryonic stem cell research because it destroys an embryo, and some claim that’s where life starts.

• Scientists and researchers value human embryonic stem cells because they can develop into any type of cells, fueling hopes for finding cures for human diseases.

• Opponents of this proposal say this will result in the unethical creation of human embryos (“life”) and destroying it for research, but the text of this proposal makes it clear that no new embryos will be created for research — they will only take donated human embryos that were created by fertility clinics and were to be destroyed already. Opponents also say this will create taxpayer burden, but the text of this proposal does not address funding.

• Proposal 2 would also prohibit any buying or selling of human embryos.