By The Associated Press
Voters in Michigan overwhelmingly approved a medical marijuana ballot measure -- making it one of a quarter of states to allow severely ill patients to use the illegal drug.
With 87 percent of the precincts reporting, 63 percent, or 2,557,410 people, voted "yes" on Proposal 1, which removes state penalties for registered patients to buy, grow and use small amounts of marijuana. Thirty-seven percent, or 1,519,273 voters, were opposed.
Opponents again were unable to derail the measure. In fact, only one state, South Dakota, has failed to OK a ballot attempt.
Of the 12 other states with medical marijuana laws, eight stemmed from ballot initiatives; four were enacted by state legislatures.
"I think it's a real victory for the patients and their families," said Dianne Byrum, spokeswoman for the support group Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care. "I just had a feeling from the very beginning this was going to pass, and it was going to resonate with the voters. ... "Voters knew right from the beginning the medical value of marijuana."
Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Bill Schuette, chairman of the opposition group Citizens Protecting Michigan's Kids, said he was disappointed with the outcome but not the effort.
"It appears we came up short," he said. "We waged a good campaign, a hard-fought campaign. But we were severely underfunded, and that's always a challenge."