#447 Who’s The Dope?

Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2010
Subject: #447 Who’s The Dope?



DrugSense FOCUS Alert #447 – Thursday, August 19th, 2010

The cities of Denver and Seattle as well as a number of smaller cities
have made use or possession of small amounts of marijuana their lowest
law enforcement priority.

This November the second largest city in the heartland may make a
similar decision as the result of the efforts of the Coalition for a
Safer Detroit http://www.saferdetroit.net/

Detroit’s alternative newspaper discusses the current status of that
effort below.

The statement “And that federal law trumps any state law.” is not
accurate. States are not required to have or enforce laws which match
federal law. If it were otherwise Michigan would not be a medicinal
marijuana state.

Since May of 1975 it has been legal for the citizens of Alaska to have
small amounts of marijuana in their own home. The feds have not and
can not do anything about it. See http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/legal/l1970/ravin.htm

The court hearing on the Detroit ballot initiative is scheduled for
August 26 at 2:30 p.m. in the Court Room of Judge Michael Sapala in
the Coleman Young Municipal Center, 2 Woodward Ave, Detroit 48226.

Please bookmark this link which will display Michigan’s marijuana
press articles as they are archived by MAP http://www.mapinc.org/find?275


Pubdate: Wed, 19 Aug 2010

Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)

Copyright: 2010 Metro Times, Inc

Contact: letters@metrotimes.com

Note: By News Hits staff. News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette.

Who’s The Dope?


Attention Detroit voters: You must be idiots.

Granted, that may be a harsh analysis. But, in the light of recent
events, it is a conclusion News Hits has been forced to arrive at.

First, the Detroit City Council decides not to place a measure on the
ballot that would let the city’s voters decide whether to place
control of their public schools in the hands of the mayor.

Not that we think having Mayor Bingo directing education is a
particularly good idea. He has his hands full as it is. But what we
think really isn’t all that important. What should matter is what a
majority of the city’s residents want.

It’s a concept known in some circles as democracy. We hear it worked
for the Greeks back in the day.

But no, the people elected by the people of this city apparently have
a fairly dim view of the judgment possessed by those who put them in
office (no small amount of irony in that, eh?) and want to keep them
from making important decisions.

Such as whether the mayor should control the public school system. Or,
more recently, whether consenting adults should be able to enjoy a
little marijuana in the privacy of their own homes.

In the case of the latter, though, it wasn’t the City Council, but
rather the three-member Detroit Election Commission that decided you
the people couldn’t be trusted to make the sort of informed decision
Californians will be making come November.

You might not have heard, but, earlier this year, a group called the
Coalition for a Safer Detroit collected more than 6,000 signatures
from voters who supported placing a measure on the ballot that would
allow people 21 and older to possess no more than an ounce of pot,
which they could enjoy as long as they didn’t use it in public. Those
signatures were submitted to City Clerk Janice Winfrey, who determined
that more than enough of them were valid, qualifying the measure to
appear on the ballot.

The final step required the approval of the Election Commission, a
relatively obscure group that includes the very high profile Charles
Pugh, president of the City Council, as one of its members.

Last week, the commission voted unanimously to keep the measure off
the ballot. The reason for doing so, they said, was because the
initiative, if passed, would conflict with state law. No less than the
City of Detroit Law Department arrived at that conclusion, and
conveyed its opinion to the commission.

News Hits, as you might have guessed, never even came close to getting
into law school, including some of the shadier ones operating in the
Caribbean. But we did watch a lot of Perry Mason in our youth, and,
based on that rock-solid foundation, we feel more than qualified to at
least ask what we believe to be this very pertinent question:

What the hell are these people smoking?

The commission’s reasoning, if you can call it that, appears to the
laymen here at the Hits to be patently ridiculous. If you are looking
for precedent (which, as we learned at the Perry Mason School of Law,
is a bona fide legal term) you need search no further than the medical
marijuana ballot measure overwhelmingly approved by the state’s voters
in 2008.

According to federal law, any use of the evil cannabis is strictly
prohibited and eminently punishable. And that federal law trumps any
state law. Even so, voters in this state, as well as 13 others, were
able to tell local and state authorities to keep their handcuffs off
people who received the requisite doctor’s authorization to use nurse
Mary Jane whenever the need arose.

Of course, the feds could still bust you. (Although, in a fit of
sanity, the Obama administration ordered the DEA to lay off locking up
people in states where medical marijuana has been legalized.)

So, if the state can say it is going to pass a measure that
contradicts federal law, why is it the city can’t do the same thing
and say marijuana is legal even though the state still prohibits it?

The answer, according to attorney Matt Abel (who, as far as we know,
did actually graduate from a law school and didn’t have to go to the
Caribbean to do it), is that there’s no good reason.

Sure, state cops could still bust dope smokers if they wanted to.
Hell, even Detroit cops could under the authority of state law.

“The practical effect,” explains Abel, one of the area’s premier
attorneys when it comes to weedy issues, “is that it would be an
advisory measure.”

In other words, a way for the people of Detroit to tell the city’s
cops to spend their time pursuing murderers, rapists and home invaders
instead of joint rollers.

Abel and his partner in attempted legalization, Tim Beck, both tell
News Hits that they were pretty astonished by the Detroit Election
Commission’s decision.

Even more surprising, they say, is the vehemence with which Council
president Pugh vilified the proposed initiative.

“He went ballistic,” is the way Abel describes Pugh’s reaction. Beck
says Pugh justified his opposition by claiming the measure would be a
“bad law.”

Maybe we missed that part of his resume, but, to the best of our
knowledge, Pugh, like the crew here at News Hits, never quite made it
to law school. We did try to get his side of the story, but a phone
call and e-mail seeking comment were not returned.

In the end though, his opinion isn’t going to matter any more than
ours. Immediately after the commission issued its opinion, Abel and
Beck began drafting a legal challenge. As a result, the city must now
go to court and attempt to justify the commission’s actions.

It would have been easier – and much less costly – to simply put the
question in front of voters and let them decide in the first place.

Perhaps we’re mistaken, and the judge will decide that the commission
acted properly in voting to keep this initiative off the ballot. But
we’re willing to bet an ounce of primo purple kush that, when the
gavel drops, you the people are going to get to decide for yourselves
whether Detroiters should be able to light up without fear of getting
busted by the local cops.

And that’s as it should be.


Taking the Initiative – A Reformer’s Guide to Direct Democracy by Tim
Beck is an excellent guide http://www.drugsense.org/caip#take

For the latest facts about marijuana please see http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/node/53

Suggestions for writing letters are at our Media Activism Center


Prepared by: Richard Lake, Focus Alert Specialist