Lansing, Michigan‐ The Coalition for a Safer Lansing announced the qualification for this November's election of it's grassroots initiatory petition to put before the city's voters on the issue of reforming local marijuana law. Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope has initially approved the valid signatures and the Election Commission is expected to formally certify the matter on Tuesday August 27, 2013.
The Coalition is composed of local and statewide activists, attorneys, businesspersons and elected officials. The petition would eliminate and prevent any penalty for the possession, use, or transfer of one ounce of marijuana or less for adults 21 years of age and older on private property. The reform is local and does not change state or federal law.
Coalition spokesman Jeffrey Hank, a Lansing‐area attorney, noted that the proposed change in the city charter did not reduce penalties for selling large quantities of marijuana or for minors who possess it, or allow driving while intoxicated. Public use is still prohibited. Criminal cases of possession and use of cannabis are common in the court system and present a serious hardship to the person accused of this victimless crime.
"We want law enforcement focus to be on serious crimes with victims. We want good community‐oriented policing, officers of the peace protecting and serving the People of Lansing. This is a pro‐law enforcement and pro‐civil liberties initiative meant to improve safety and policing in Lansing while restoring constitutional liberties that are a casualty of the so‐called war on drugs. This is an initiative that indicates the voters of Lansing seek peace."
The Coalition submitted over 7,000 signatures supporting the petition, and almost immediately, received unsolicited support from Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero. Bernero was quoted by MLive on August 5, 2013, as stating, "....The Public is far ahead of most politicians on this issue..." and Bernero further stated, "My personal view is that marijuana prohibition has been a complete failure...," and that, "Our police officers and courts have more important things to do than pursue and prosecute these violations."
"It's important for Lansing to take the lead on this issue," said Hank. "Polls and surveys tell us the citizens support cannabis reform. The laws as currently written abrogate constitutional freedoms, waste taxpayer dollars, and undermine a more healthy relationship between local people and the justice system. State legislators should see a working model of freedom every day." Tim Beck, Chairman of the Safer Michigan Coalition, added, "Certification by the Lansing Election Commission means the voters of Lansing, Jackson, and Ferndale will be voting to make possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults on private property, no longer a crime under city law come November." Beck added that the three cities would be "...joining Detroit, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Flint and Ypsilanti in saying no to wasting police resources on something that should not even be a crime in the first place."
The Coalition intends for the reform to have a real impact on low‐level marijuana offenses, preserving police resources for serious crimes and also sparing people from criminal records and the secondary affects a marijuana arrest or conviction can have on future abilities for employment, housing, student loans, and other opportunities. While the terms legalization, decriminalization, exemption, nullification, and many others have been used to describe the initiative, the intent is to prevent harms associated with the war on drugs and to make Lansing safer and more harmonious, with better relations between the police and the community. The Coalition also hopes for a symbolic affect on state and federal policy to signal the public's discontent with current policy and it's related assaults on traditional concepts of American liberty. Lansing police and other officials are expected to honor the will of the People.
Source: The Compassion Chronicles