Last week, voters in the
college town of Ann Arbor, Michigan, voted by a whopping 74% margin to
approve an amendment decriminalizing the use of marijuana for medical reasons.
Within days Ann Arbor Police Chief Dan Oates announced that his department
would ignore the new law. In a written statement issued two days
after the election, Oates said he had directed officers to continue enforcing
all marijuana laws as they had prior to the vote.
Ann Arbor's medical marijuana
amendment would not prevent state or federal officials from making arrests
under state or federal law. But since, according to the Michigan
Daily, 99% of Ann Arbor pot arrests are made by local police, the amendment,
if enforced, would significantly reduce the likelihood that a medical marijuana
user in the city would run into legal hassles.
Chief Oates cited the opinion
of City Attorney Postema, who told the Michigan Daily News that although
the initiative was legally placed on the ballot, case law in Michigan dictates
that when city ordinances mandate softer penalties than state law, law
enforcement officials can prosecute people under the harsher state law
anyway. Based on that case law, Postema said, his office is not bound
to observe the will of the voters.
What Postema neglected to
say is that officials could also choose to obey the ordinance, but have
decided not to. And that is not sitting well with Scio Township Trustee
Chuck Ream, who led the petition drive. Yes, Michigan law allows
officials to ignore such charter amendments, he told the Daily. "But
the citizens of Ann Arbor have spoken just as clearly," he said.
"And people who would like to be employed by the city should either listen
to the voice of the people when they vote or they should seek employment...
in another community. If the people of Ann Arbor didn't speak clearly
[on Election Day], then I don't know what it takes."
If officials refuse to enforce
the law, said Ream, the county could be hit with a costly lawsuit.
-- END --
Issue #362, 11/12/04
Editorial: The Spirit of Lawfulness |
Ever Upward: At Nearly 1.5 Million, US Prison Population at New High |
In an Hour of Conservative Ascendancy: Prospects for Drug Reform at the Federal Level During the Next Four Years |
Syracuse Reconsiders Drug Policy |
Newsbrief: Congressional Drug Warrior Threatens Canada Over Marijuana Legislation |
Newsbrief: In New Twist in Thai Drug War, Police Detain and Drug Test Club Goers |
Newsbrief: Ann Arbor Officials to Ignore Voters' Will on Medical Marijuana |
Newsbrief: Georgia Supreme Court Says Wife Can't Consent to Search of Home Against Husband's Will |
Newsbrief: Austin, Texas, Cop Killed Enforcing Marijuana Possession Law |
Newsbrief: Supreme Court to Look at Drug Dogs in Traffic Stops |
This Week in History |
The DARE Generation Returns to DC: Students for Sensible Drug Policy 2004 National Conference Next Month |
Apply Now to Intern at DRCNet! |
DrugWarMarket.com Seeking Information, Affiliations, Link Exchanges |
The Reformer's Calendar
Mail this article to a friend
Send us feedback on this article
This issue -- main page
This issue -- single-file printer version
Drug War Chronicle -- main page
PERMISSION to reprint or
redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle (formerly The Week Online with DRCNet is hereby
granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and,
where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your
publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks
payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for
materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we
request notification for our records, including physical copies where
material has appeared in print. Contact: StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network,
P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202)
293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank
Articles of a purely
educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet
Foundation, unless otherwise noted.