Pubdate: Thu, 29 Sep 2011
Source: Grand Rapids Press (MI)
Copyright: 2011 Grand Rapids Press
Author: Greg Francisco
Note: Greg Francisco resides in Paw Paw.


Congratulations are in order to the Kalamazoo Coalition for Pragmatic 
Cannabis Laws. Their Lowest Law Enforcement Priority proposal will 
now appear on the November city ballot. Following expected passage at 
the polls, the measure will direct the Kalamazoo Department of Public 
Safety to regard simple, adult possession of small, personal use 
quantities of marijuana as their lowest priority.

Campaign organizer Louis Stocking was recently quoted in a Gazette 
article as hoping this measure will signal that the city of Kalamazoo 
is somehow, "pot friendly," and that it will attract people from 
outside of Kalamazoo to the city because, "they'll know we're liberal 
when it comes to marijuana."

Well maybe, but surely the benefits of this proposal go far, far 
beyond simply giving a bunch of raggedy stoners a green light to 
party, party, party. I was disappointed to see the proposal framed in 
such frivolous terms.

Making simple, adult possession of marijuana the Lowest Law 
Enforcement Priority frees the KDPS to allocate limited resources to 
more serious crime. Crimes where there is an actual victim, for example.

It will direct the Kalamazoo city attorney to focus on true criminals 
who are intent on doing things that harm the rest of us, not 
prosecuting otherwise law-abiding adults who are intent on doing 
things we just don't happen to approve of.

It helps clear the backlog clogging up city court rooms - no more 
putting rapists on the back burner to make room for the daily parade 
of misdemeanor marijuana cases that now take up 20 percent of the 
docket. Time and resources spent arresting, prosecuting and 
adjudicating petty marijuana offenses is time lost to thwarting child 
molesters, impaired drivers and armed robbers.

It is no secret that many in the Michigan cannabis law reform 
community regard the upcoming city of Kalamazoo Lowest Law 
Enforcement Priority proposal as the opening salvo in a series of 
local initiatives that will ultimately lead to a statewide ballot 
initiative to regulate, control and tax adult use of cannabis. 
Reforms that are long overdue.

Marijuana prohibition has utterly failed to properly regulate or 
adequately control cannabis, much less capture significant potential 
tax revenues on a commerce that generates $55 million annually 
statewide in untaxed sales. Add to that the $40 million spent in 
Michigan every year in a vain attempt to enforce cannabis prohibition 
and you're starting to talk about some real money.

The city of Kalamazoo Lowest Law Enforcement Priority proposal is a 
good first step in staunching the flow of dollars now being wasted 
trying to protect adults from their own folly. How much longer will 
it be before the state takes the next logical step and finally starts 
regulating, controlling and reaping cannabis tax revenues?

How much longer will it be before we show the courage of our 
grandparents and face reality? Good intentions are not enough, 
results count. Prohibition just makes the problem worse. Lowest Law 
Enforcement Priority proposals are about a lot more than just the 
right to party unmolested.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom