Newsbrief: Friend of Drug Reform Upsets Veteran in Detroit City Council Race 5/2/03

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Former radio talk show host and first woman director of the Detroit branch of the NAACP JoAnn Watson scored an upset victory over Detroit political perennial Gil Hill Tuesday to win a seat on the city council. Watson is also a member of the steering committee for the Detroit Coalition for Compassionate Care (DCCC), the grassroots groups pushing the city for the last two years to embrace policies that would recognize medical marijuana.

Watson defeated Hill, a former Detroit police official who gained fame as Eddie Murphy's superior in the "Beverly Hills Cop" movie series, by a margin of 52% to 48%. She attributed her electoral success to a strong door-to-door grassroots effort.

That effort included help from the DCCC, said coalition leader Tim Beck. "We were looking to beef up our steering committee, and we hit the jackpot with JoAnn," Beck told DRCNet. "She agreed early on to support medical marijuana and join the steering committee, in return for some assistance with her campaign."

While medical marijuana is not Watson's primary focus, said Beck, she is a "left of center candidate in the style of Rep. Maxine Waters [D-CA] and is strongly aware of how people of color are victimized by the drug war." And she can read the polls showing strong support for medical marijuana in Detroit, Beck added.

As for the DCCC, Beck told DRCNet the group is organizing for the November 2004 elections and pushing the Detroit City Council to pass an ordinance to either make medical marijuana "the lowest law enforcement priority" or cut all funding to prosecute such cases. In the event such efforts are blocked, the coalition will pursue a municipal initiative and Watson could apply an important "seal of approval," Beck said.

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Issue #285, 5/2/03 Editorial: Much to Emulate from Abroad | Senator Nolin Comes to Washington | Cannabis Canada: Decrim on the Way, Says Prime Minister -- The People are Ready, Says Poll | Vancouver: Unsanctioned Safe Injection Site Opens in Midst of Police Crackdown on Downtown Eastside Hard Drug Scene | Peruvian Coca Growers Move from Joy to Anger as Meeting with President Yields FALSE Accord | Sentencing Reform through Budget Crisis: Washington State Passes Early Release Bill | Drug Czar Escapes Prosecution for Election Law Violations in Nevada | Newsbrief: Scottish Police Call for Drug Law Reform | Newsbrief: Oregon House Passes Bill to Restrict Medical Marijuana, Action Pending in Senate | Newsbrief: Friend of Drug Reform Upsets Veteran in Detroit City Council Race | Newsbrief: Utah Marijuana Case against Dennis Peron Crumbles | Newsbrief: Missouri Court Challenges Meth Arrest for Cold Pills | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cop Story | Web Scan: CSDP, Policy Review, High Point Enterprise | Job Opportunity: Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, DC | Fellowship Opportunity: Ira Glasser Racial Justice Fellowship Program, American Civil Liberties Union | The Reformer's Calendar
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