The battle over marijuana continues on. Well, it’s not really a battle, man, it’s a struggle. Or something.
But we’ve got two different stories here showing decriminalization efforts succeeding and failing through more than a simple popular vote.
First: Springfield, Missouri City Council Overturns Ordinance
So, here’s the first one: Pro-Marijuana activists collected thousands of signatures to pass an ordinance that decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana. It went to the city council, who passed it.
All good, right? Then, thirty days later, they repealed it. The city council had the option to put the issue to their constituents, but instead chose to first pass it, wait for people to stop paying attention, and then repeal it.
Which is a complete circumvention of the city’s charter for initiative petitions.
What the charter says is if voters get enough signatures for an issue, the city council must pass it, or put it to the voters. They can’t reject it.
So rather than letting voters have their say, they pass it, fulfilling the requirements of the charter, the letter of the law, and then repealed it. It may follow the letter of the law, but it certainly violates the intent of the law.
Second: Kalamazoo, Michigan City Commissioners Decriminalize Marijuana
Yup, those fine folks in the city government of Kalamazoo, Michigan just up and did it – now, possession of small amounts of marijuana for persons 21 and over results in a misdemeanor that’s a fine of up to $100 or a jail sentence not to exceed 93 days.
First time offenders also have the option of avoiding jail by taking on community service – and a deferred judgment that is not considered a conviction.
The argument they’re making for this is that it’s just too damn much for police officers to have to deal with constant possession offenses and clog up the works when they could be handling much more serious offenses. The problem is — once an arrest has been made, the officer is pretty much locked into dealing with that arrest and can’t go on a call.
Also, many of those arrests get dismissed, anyway.
Voters in Kalamazoo chose last year to direct the officers to treat marijuana possession as their lowest law enforcement priority, so the City Commissioners could tell what their constituents wanted.
Question, Tokers: Marijuana – legalize it completely? Crack down on it? Ambivalent?