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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hot Summer for Michigan Local Pot Initiatives by Chuck Ream

     November 4, 2014 will be a big night in Michigan for Cannabis and Freedom! We will sit and watch the returns come in from so many Michigan cities, big and small, rich and poor, urban and rural, Republican and Democrat. All sorts of voters will show that they are American patriots with both brains and compassion; they understand finally that cannabis prohibition is cruel, ridiculous, and ultimately dangerous. It’s dangerous because pot law enforcement constantly pulls law enforcement resources away from solving or preventing real crimes that have victims.

     Petition signatures were due in the offices of city clerk’s July 29. Soon we will know how many of the cities qualified to have marijuana law reform proposals on their ballots November 4. At the least we will have a dozen and at best all nineteen! Credit goes to the heroic local leaders who have done the very hard work of gathering signatures, and to the very generous activists who gave hard earned money to the Safer Michigan Coalition fundraiser on June 5. 

     The Safer Michigan Coalition has given cash to pay for signatures or have petitions created to local campaigns in E. Lansing, Port Huron, Mount Pleasant, Gross Pointe Park, Frankfort, and Keego Harbor (as well as Marquette in the UP – I have no idea what they are doing there).

     “Superactivists” Andrew Cissell and Debra Young worked for long hours every day gathering signatures. They put 5 cities on the ballot by themselves! This level of commitment is astounding and unprecedented, proving that Andrew is a dynamic and effective candidate for the Michigan House of Representatives.  They worked so fast that two of their cities, Oak Park and Hazel Park, are qualified to be on the August 5 primary election ballot! Hopefully this will provide two separate “news cycles” of media covering cannabis law reform victories in Michigan.

     Oak Park city hall decided to ignore the crystal clear laws governing local initiatives and refuse to allow our issue on its August ballot. We couldn’t allow this to happen because if we let one city play illegal games with us a bunch of other cities might try something. We could not be vulnerable and weak. We hired Mark Brewer, the former head of the Michigan Democratic Party, as our attorney. Mr. Brewer knows election law. Oak Park immediately changed their minds after a visit with a judge. I doubt that other Michigan cities will ignore the law now, but our bill was more than $6000. We will be forever grateful to MMM Report for paying a major portion of this necessary attorney bill!

     Nearly all of the 2014 Michigan cities are using the “legalization by exemption” petition that was perfected by Safer Michigan Coalition chairman Tim Beck. Tim defended it all the way through the Michigan Supreme Court (financed out of his own pocket). This little nugget of legal jujitsu leaves all the marijuana laws of a city in place except that an adult possessing less than one ounce of cannabis on private property not frequented by the public (or transporting such an amount of pot) is exempted from the provisions of the city marijuana law.  I remember explaining to Tim that he could never get this petition approved, but he did. So, these cities are voting on “legalization” of a sort – and so far cities have all voted yes!

     We will win every election that we contest, but overconfidence or boasting is the true kiss of death. We appeal to the head and the heart. We praise the voters, (who are the last line of defense for democracy), for their wisdom, compassion, and patriotism. We never “tell” voters how to vote, or “assume” victory. We are working hard to give some city voters a voice on a policy which directly affects the safety and the “fairness” of every community. We are very humbly asking the voters to consider our position – that cannabis is not really harmful but cannabis prohibition is harmful indeed. An American is arrested for pot every 42 seconds, and their lives may be brutally affected – no education loans, no good job, no public housing, maybe no voting or driver’s license; or you can lose custody of your child; possibly after giving birth in a hospital.

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