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Marijuana: Kalamazoo Next for a Lowest Law Enforcement Priority Initiative

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #569)

Work is getting underway in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on getting an initiative making adult marijuana possession offenses the lowest law enforcement priority on the ballot, the Kalamazoo Gazette reported Monday. The effort is being led by Michigan NORML.

Lowest priority initiatives have become an increasingly popular way to advance the marijuana reform cause since the effort was pioneered in Seattle in 2003. Since then, a half-dozen California communities, Denver, and Eureka Springs and Fayetteville, Arkansas, among others, have passed similar initiatives.

Although ballot language is not yet final, organizers hope to have the issue on the November ballot. They will have to gather at least 1,273 valid signatures of registered city voters by August 14, a task organizers said they could accomplish easily. Once enough valid signatures are submitted, the Kalamazoo City Commission would have 14 days to either adopt the ordinance or put it before the voters.

Kalamazoo was chosen because it is "a progressive city with motivated activists on the ground," said Greg Francisco, director of MINORML's Southwest Michigan chapter. "Anyone who wants to use marijuana can already find it," Francisco said.

Unsurprisingly, local law enforcement is not amused. "This is a silly idea," Kalamazoo Valley Enforcement Team commander Capt. Joseph Taylor told the Gazette. "It's a roundabout way of circumventing the more difficult process of getting marijuana legalized," he said, adding that marijuana is a "gateway drug" and that violent dealers have migrated from crack cocaine to weed because of lower criminal penalties.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

Capt. Joseph Taylor told the Gazette "...marijuana is a "gateway drug" and that violent dealers have migrated from crack cocaine to weed because of lower criminal penalties."

So people move from pot to crack because the penalties are less? Congratulations, Captain, that is, without a doubt, the DUMBEST thing I have heard anyone say or write all year.

This is the main reason pot is illegal: IGNORANCE

Fri, 01/23/2009 - 1:15pm Permalink
mlang52 (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

No need to call names! They just don't have the common sense to realize that alcohol is the gateway drug (or don't want to admit it!) Research, on that aspect of alcohol abuse, needs to be done! Past drug czar Hutchison parroted the same things on the CNBC show, last night. And he a was a past US representative (senator or congressman) from Arkansas, too. Oops! I did not mean to infer he lacked common sense because of where he was from. They have many dry counties there, as well! He loved to go on about it was a gateway drug and a "very dangerous drug" Too bad, he can't see alcohol, being much more toxic, kills many people in his state, each year. While deaths attributed to pot, is almost zero, over the entire country!

Fri, 01/23/2009 - 2:26pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

When the Gazette interviewed me for this article the reporter lobbed me the fattest softball question I've ever been served up in my 10 years of high profile activism.

Reporter: Capt Taylor asks why the citizens of Kalamazoo should be able to tell the police what priorities they should put on various crimes?

Francisco: Because that's how it works in a free country. The citizens give directions and the police follow them. On the other hand, countries where the police tell the citizens what behaviors are criminalized and how harshly they will be punished are commonly referred to as Police States.

I'd been practicing that line for years--finally got to deliver it. Sadly the reporter said it was too inflammatory.

Fri, 01/23/2009 - 1:29pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Thank you for your coverage I am the person who started this initiative and appreciate the coverage. Everything is coming together so smoothly, everyday is a little more encouraging.

-Louis Stocking

p.s. thanks for putting gregs quote up not seeing that was a bummer

Fri, 01/23/2009 - 3:56pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kalamazoo is regulating it's own laws. Battle Creek residents need to do for their OWN city. YOU should start it.

Wed, 12/09/2009 - 5:43am Permalink
Right Reverend… (not verified)

In Jesus Anointed (with marijuana) who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

It is not just the ignorant who make us suffer. It is those who live in fear who make us suffer, too. The church militant against the hells decries those who demoralized our world for the base motive of ruling over us through fear and ignorance. The revelations of the Word of God will put to flight those people and their blasphemy.

A childhood story from the life in Holland, Michigan (you may find interesting) is available on the Universal Orthodox website

Great work men. In Revelation, "and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Run from the cure-the Rick Simpson story) And there shall be no more curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His bond-servants shall serve Him." xxii. 2, 3.

Sat, 01/24/2009 - 11:09am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

MI NORML has headed little ots been me my local friends/contacts and 2 people from michigan norml... greg who is head of the mmma and greg.. a lawyer... things are going well and i am still affiliated but that just isnt true. Until the gazette i was on my own

Sun, 01/25/2009 - 12:14am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

It's very unfortunate that Capt. Joseph Taylor is your typical ignorant police officer. I guess he considers beer a alcohol gateway. Why doesn't Capt. Joseph Taylor give us a comparison of deaths and injuries between alcohol and marijuana in the lovely city of Kalamazoo. I'll bet he'll also say it's addictive.

Sun, 01/25/2009 - 4:31pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Just imagine, for a brief moment in time, that you could put the marijuana dealers out of business. That's right, completely out of business. Wouldn't that be a wonderful thought for the American citizens and law enforcement agencies throughout the country? Isn't it the function of the police to not only enforce the law but to reduce crime? Just imagine how legalizing marijuana could change the whole picture. Now police could concentrate on serious crimes and protecting the public. Imagine the tax revenues that the city, state and federal government could collect. It just seems like the right thing to do at the right time.

Sun, 01/25/2009 - 5:01pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

The guy is out of his mind. I am still in shock and its been a couple months... see whats up :)

Tue, 02/24/2009 - 8:55pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I agree with posts above that Captain Taylor doesn't have his facts straight. When my daughter was in head start (3 years old) they had these fliers they gave to us about the HORRIBLE consequences of marijuana use. It wasn't about other drugs -- just weed. They said in the flier things like its a "gateway" drug, that it causes all these deaths(!) anyway a bunch of stuff that was just factually INACCURATE. And this is the problem: if you watch TV for 3 hours, you will see several advertisements for "legal" drugs that you can get prescribed by a doctor for depression, anxiety, whatever. And, when you hear about the side effects they are HORRID. I mean, "don't take this if you take that, don't take this if you're pregnant, don't take this if you have heart disease...." the list goes on. And if you do take this it can result in death. I've taken a few of these things and the minimal side effects can be horrible.

What is the primary negative side effect of marijuana? Well, there is the "tiredness" and "laziness" if you smoke too much, there is also the tar in the lungs just from smoking, and in some people it increases anxiety or paranoia. I have yet to see much of anything else. I haven't seen or even heard of anyone going whack, going on a family killing spree, running their car into a restaurant, beating their wife, etc. I'm sure some of these things do happen while a person is stoned on weed, but you don't hear about it. Instead you hear about people getting drunk and running into restaurants, taking meth and going on killing sprees or not feeding their kids or their house blowing up...whatever. But not with marijuana. And yet, all of these police, government officials, teacher -- lob this drug into the same category as everything else.

The bottom line is that they just don't have their facts straight (at all). What they should do with their time instead is join the Flat Earth Society and donate money, at least they might get some sort of joy out of their delusion instead of just harassing and negatively stereotyping marijuana use and marijuana users. Most of the people I know who smoke don't even drink, or if they do drink alcohol, that's a far worse problem in their lives than their marijuana use. The worst thing about it is if you smoke too much you can get lazy, so I don't think its a good thing for 14 yr olds still in school to start using it regularly.

But you should know -- the reason it is criminalized is not ONLY because people are just uneducated. This country is full of people like this, people who want to force religious education in public schools, people who believe that Obama is really working for the Muslim "terrorists," people who believe that Israel is really a good state and has a right to bomb Palestine with White Phosphorus weapons, people who truly think Hezbollah is coming across this country through Mexico so we can kill more "illegal aliens" trying to find a job picking tomatoes for their sorry arse. People believe all sorts of crap just because the news tells them, a cop tells them, their teacher or parent told them or even more scary: some crackpot preacher on TV or in their church told them so. The world is full of them. But marijuana remaining illegal makes a whole lot of money you aren't aware of. How many murders, assaults, etc., are there in Kalamazoo to keep the police occupied? They need soft crimes just to remain in business, to maintain their personnel, I was in fact told by a lawyer in a sociology of law class that marijuana being "illegal" makes courts, judges, police, attorneys -- a whole group of individuals LOTS AND LOTS OF CASH. And, they don't want to go out of business -- so if you cut out busting people for pot use from police work, then what will you have? Unemployed police officers, judges with nothing to do but twittle their thumbs or post random anonymous crap on twitter, whole law firms that will go out of business. There is big money in keeping marijuana ILLEGAL (in fact, maintaining the "drug war" is good business for a whole lot of people that don't want to go bankrupt.

Thu, 04/02/2009 - 5:41am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

first of all i have been raided by capt.joseph taylor and his KVET squad. these guys dont know anything about keeping the community safe, sure they bust alot of meth labs and real drug dealers, but why am i not surprised that 5 kids i know, including myself, have had their doors kicked down by KVET due to bogus tips from Confidential informants. i was found with two joint roaches in my residence, it took ten undercover narcotics officers to kick down my door, ransack my house, break my printer which i use to type my papers (im a student), feed me lies saying that i was a drug dealer? excuse me you pathetic cops, i know what i did and what i didnt do! now im facing expulsion from my school and potential jail time, all because of 2 roaches. KVET needs to stop raiding pot smoking college kids and go after the real criminals, get a real job capt.taylor.

Fri, 04/24/2009 - 6:51am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

You are facing expulsion from school for 2 roaches? That's unbelievable! I fact, the more I think about it, it is unbelievable. There is no college in this county that is going to expell you for 2 joints. It's obvious to all of us you are not tellining the whole story... Which leads me to 2 questions:

#1 Is marijuana illegal in Michigan?

#2 Is Captain Taylor a police officer that we as citizens pay to enforce the law in Michigan?

Tue, 05/12/2009 - 1:06am Permalink
Brainwashed Cops (not verified)

So called captain taylor, you don't make any sense by saying violent crack cocain dealers have migrated to weed for lesser penalties. Isn't that what you should want? That means that would make them un-violent, weed would be legal, and their are NO penalties. Are you out for blood or are you trying to have a more peaceful city? I would think as a cop, you would want less drama from the non-offenders vs. all these drunk drivers in our city that's running into people and buildings in our city. Captain Taylor...I think you NEED to smoke a nice fatty and you'll see you will be at peace with yourself and relax. Maybe it would help you to un-brainwash yourself to see that pot NEVER hurts anyone, only cops who are out for blood instead of being on our side. Just remember you are a citizen as well(technically) and you should be treated fairly by non-offenders that's causing no trouble in a city that we love, but at the same time there's not much to do here but live your life in harmony with everyone. So knock the chip off your shoulder and next time you arrest someone for a joint, just take it from them,and you and your buddies take a break and blaze! Some Kalamazoo Cops are the coolest(that's real) and some are like YOU, Capp. Taylor. Just mean and misinformed. Hey what's up Sam!

Fri, 11/20/2009 - 12:32pm Permalink
fuctbytheman (not verified)

local police just pass around this by calling swet. then swet throws the biggest bullshit they can to raise your retainer and bond. State budgets can absorb more crappy police work. they want u legal or not sitting in jail with a crappy lawyer. legal on paper means nothing when enforcement is rogue. kalabama, mi. aka the zoo

Tue, 11/08/2011 - 2:07pm Permalink

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