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Local Governments Should Stop Fighting Will of the Voters

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The state branch of the American Civil Liberties Union is urging a Wayne County judge to strike down a vague Livonia statute that is designed to prohibit residents from benefiting from the Michigan Marihuana Act, which legalizes medical weed.

June 14, Detroit Free Press: The ACLU has argued that Linda Lott, who is confined to a wheelchair and blind, experiences painful and relentless muscle spasms that can no longer be controlled by conventional medications. Medical marijuana could help, but the Lotts fear arrest and prosecution by local officials if they grow or use medical marijuana in compliance with state law.

The Lotts are also challenging similar ordinances in Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills. The ACLU wants all three ordinances to be declared invalid and unenforceable against medical marijuana patients and caregivers who comply with state law.

The Livonia ordinance, while not specifically mentioning medical marijuana, prohibits any activity that violates federal law. Medical marijuana is still technically illegal under federal law. However, the ACLU argues, the federal government does not prosecute patients and caregivers who comply with their states' medical marijuana laws.

But despite the fact that the feds have backed off–at least ostensibly–we continue to waste untold dollars on drug raids and court cases aimed at taking away through law enforcement what we've declared legal at the ballot box. How is this anything short of utter usurpation of the democratically expressed will of the people?

And just as it's bad politics, it's also bad economics. While many of the wild-eyed projections about what taxing marijuana could do for a local budget deserve skepticism, there's simply no disputing the fact that weed is big money. In San Jose, Calif., for instance, the city reaped $290,000 in the first month of a 7% tax on medical pot. That comes to about $3.5 million a year.

So why won't more so-called local political "leaders" at least consider a more progressive stance on weed?

Consider that, only a few short miles away from Livonia, in Detroit, the City Council and Mayor are at each other's throats in a battle over whether and how deeply to cut police or public transit or both. Meanwhile, resource-strapped law enforcement officers in Detroit are forced into impromptu cost-benefit analyses every time they make a traffic stop.

June 9, myfoxdetroit.com: A man was driving erratically. Cops rolled up behind him. The man sped away, blew a red light before eventually pulling over.

He had a bridge card but no driver's license. He had thousands of dollars in traffic tickets and warrants. Cops cuffed him then searched his car. Finding no weapon, they let him go. Cops have to prioritize. That's how it is in the most violent quarter of the most violent city.

"We've got no one to look after him," said Sgt. Mike Osman. "We've got no jail space. And we don't have enough manpower for us to go back to the station and do the paperwork. So you kick him loose. And everyone out here knows it."

Now, don't read me wrong. I'm not saying the cops should be hauling everyone off to jail for every minor infraction. That's stupid and costly, too. But if we can understand that when it comes to lead-footed drivers vs. real criminals, why can't our little bishop-ocracy get off its high horse when it comes to these ridiculous drug enforcement policies?

A year ago, voters in the city proper fought to put marijuana legalization on the ballot, and without the trappings of the "medical" debate either. The measure was certainly reasonable, calling for the legalization of up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use. Petitions were gathered. Everything was done by the book. The measure seemed certainly to pass.

But then the Detroit Election Commission unilaterally decided not to allow the proposal onto the ballot.

Since then, how many more people have been arrested for victimless marijuana "crimes?" How many more of the city's police officers, like the late Brian Huff, have had to put their lives on the line to nab penny-ante marijuana dealers? How many more prosecutors have the counties thrown at weed offenses? How much in tax revenue have the cities squandered?

Again, no one's suggesting that legalizing and taxing marijuana is the economic silver bullet for Detroit. But there's nothing to be afraid either, no reason for marijuana to continue to be made a drain on public resources when it could help replenish them.

And there's certainly no reason for cops, prosecutors and judges to keep resisting the will of the people when, in fact, it's their job to enforce it.

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: mlive.com
Author: Darrell Dawsey
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: Michigan Live LLC.
Website: Local governments should stop fighting will of the voters, turn marijuana into a revenue source
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