August 6th is Primary Elections Day in Detroit, and city residents are evaluating the candidates and their position on the issues that are important to voters. This election Detroit voters will have a new way to measure their candidates: support for marijuana law reform.
A website offering a "Marijuana-friendly Slate of Candidates" features the names of those running for office that have publicly taken a pro-marijuana stance. Although not all city districts or police precincts feature a pro-cannabis Detroiter vying for the position, many do- including a candidate for Mayor.
Lisa Howze and Rep. Fred Durhal Jr. are the two mayoral candidates with public pro-marijuana stances. Howze is a former state representative and a certified public accountant who has accused the government of inflating Detroit's debt crisis to justify installing an emergency financial manager. Her page on Votesmart.orgindicates support from environmentalists and low approval ratings from business and Tea Party groups. She is the youngest of all the candidates for mayor and is featured on the Slate.
Durhal Jr. is a current state representative who has a long history of public service and involvement in marijuana law reform. Durhal Jr. and Council candidate Cushingberry Jr. created and enacted a series of meetings between all the stakeholders in Michigan's medical marijuana law in 2010. From his days as an assistant to Coleman Young to representing northwest Detroit in the state house, Durhal Jr. was recently quoted as saying, "I know government probably better than all of the people running."
Of the six newly-created Council Districts in Detroit, four have candidates appearing on the Slate. Former state representative and attorney George Cushingberry Jr. is running for office in the 2nd District, which incorporates a long section of Woodward Avenue and the center of the city. Cushingberry Jr. has been a staunch supporter of marijuana freedoms since his early days in politics- and he was once the youngest man to ever be elected to the House in Michigan history. During a recent interview session in Detroit, Cushingberry Jr. emphasized an immediate need for basic police services in his district.
Other candidates receiving the nod from Slate creator Richard Clement include Scott Benson in the 3rd District, Betty Cook Scott in the 4th District and Mary Waters in the 5th District. The At-Large candidates listed as supporting the issue are Monica Lewis-Patrick and David Bullock.
Of the seven Police Districts, two have candidates for Commissioner that publicly support marijuana law reform or proper allocation of police resources to fight more serious crime. In the 5th District, Marcelus Brice is acknowledged on the 420 Slate. In the 7th District it's Ricardo Moore.
Surprised that candidates for Police Commissioner would be supportive of a reduction in focus on marijuana crimes? It's a national trend in law enforcement initiated by LEAP. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is a group of current and former law enforcement officials that speak out against the misinformation and inappropriate use of police resources in the war on drugs. That message is extremely appropriate in Detroit, where current financial crisis and the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history threaten to shave more dollars from an already insufficient city police budget.
One of LEAP's most powerful speakers, Jim Gierach, will speak in Grass Lake in August. His message comes in support of local initiatives in three cities who propose to let their voters decide the issue of decriminalization of marijuana, following the same model used in Detroit in 2012. On July 30 activists in Jackson and Ferndale submitted petitions containing the signatures needed to place the question on ballots in their cities. Lansing is expected to submit their completed petitions next week.
The Slate was created by Clement, a longtime marijuana activist and Detroiter. Clement said, "I've been doing marijuana activism since 1999." Clement is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Michigan branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. More recently he has spearheaded the efforts to recall Michigan's Attorney General for exceeding his office and impeding the enactment of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, among other things.
Source: The Compassion Chronicles