Marijuana advocate who is facing felony drug trial files to run for seat in Michigan House

4/23/2014
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Marijuana-Votes

T. Edwin Norris, city clerk for the City of Oak Park, counts the pages of the petitions that were submitted by Debra Young, left, of the Safer Michigan Coalition and Andrew Cissell, Tuesday, April 22, 2014, in Oak Park, Mich. The coalition turned in petitions, in favor of marijuana decriminalization, with 1,600 signatures to the Oak Park city clerk's office Tuesday, according to MLive.com. The city said 1,100 valid signatures are needed to put the issue on the Aug. 5 primary ballot. (AP Photo/Detroit News, Clarence Tabb Jr) DETROIT FREE PRESS OUT; HUFFINGTON POST OUT

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Debra Young, center, representing Safer Oak Park and Safer Hazel Park Coalition and campaign manager for Andrew Cissell, right, holds over 1,600 petitions, with Tim Beck, co-founder of the Safer Michigan coalition, at the Oak Park City Hall.
Debra Young, center, representing Safer Oak Park and Safer Hazel Park Coalition and campaign manager for Andrew Cissell, right, holds over 1,600 petitions, with Tim Beck, co-founder of the Safer Michigan coalition, at the Oak Park City Hall.

OAK PARK, Mich. — A Detroit-area marijuana advocate facing a felony trial on charges he sold the drug is running for a seat in the state House.

Andrew Cissell wants to represent Michigan’s 27th District, which includes Hazel Park and his hometown of Oak Park. Activists submitted petitions Tuesday to put marijuana legalization questions on August ballots in both cities.

Cissell, who is running on a platform that is almost exclusively about legalizing cannabis, says he hopes the proposals will sweep him to a primary victory this summer. The idea is to draw voters who otherwise would ignore a primary election.

The problem is: Cissell, 26, could be in jail come election time if convicted at a trial scheduled to begin in May.

“If Andrew ends up in prison, that won’t stop us — this movement will go on,” campaign spokeswoman Debra Young told the Detroit Free Press.

Cissell is one of several Democrats running for the seat.

Marijuana legalization backers have targeted around a dozen communities and at least one county for decriminalization proposals this year.

Ferndale, Jackson and Lansing voters approved proposals a year ago.

Police chiefs in Ferndale and Detroit, which has a similar law, have said they are continuing to enforce Michigan and federal laws against marijuana. Regional anti-drug police units, including those in Oakland County where Oak Park and Hazel Park are located, continue to conduct raids on suspected marijuana producers.