The petition would eliminate adult penalties for up to one ounce of marijuana and is based on the idea of community-oriented policing
LANSING, MI — The Coalition for a Safer Lansing announces the initiation of a petition drive to put before the city’s voters on the issue of reforming local marijuana law.
The Coalition is composed of local and statewide activists, attorneys, businesspersons and elected officials. The petition would eliminate the 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.
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. 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 civil liberties initiative meant to improve safety and policing in Lansing.” Hank noted that often families and children are harmed less by actual cannabis use itself and more by cannabis prohibition policies like criminal records and the loss of benefits, and via the probation, parole and Child Protective Services system for the non-violent use or possession of marijuana.
The Safer Michigan Coalition has inspired several communities to begin the petition process to change their marijuana laws. In a unanimous sweep, five Michigan cities voted to reduce marijuana penalties in November of 2012; most of those proposals won by large margins. Recently, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero directed the city attorney to investigate the legality of duplicating a decriminalization ordinance like the one Grand Rapids activated May 1st.
“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 re-legalization every day. The Capitol City is prepared to make Lansing at the forefront of cannabis reform.”
Hank continued: “In 2010, according to the FBI Report of Offenses Known to Law Enforcement, Lansing’s violent crime rate was 173% higher than the national violent crime rate and the property crime rate was 38% higher than the statewide average. The city is projected to have a dozen murders, over 800 aggravated assaults and 44 forcible rapes in 2013. Studies show that marijuana distribution centers do not contribute to local crime and Michigan voters have consistently approved more lenient laws regarding marijuana use.”
Petitions have begun circulating. Visit Safer Lansing for more information or to get involved.