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.