Friday, June 1, 2012

Supremes give Detroit pot vote a green light

Posted By on Fri, Jun 1, 2012 at 8:07 PM

Pro-marijuana activists won a great victory in the Michigan Supreme Court today when the high court ruled that Detroit voters should be allowed to decide whether they want to liberalize the city’s marijuana law.

It is been a long fight. Two years ago the Coalition for a Safer Detroit gathered enough signatures to place on the ballot a measure that would prevent Detroit cops from citing people for violation of the city ordinance if they are at least 21 and possess less than an ounce of pot on private property.

Police could still arrest people, it just wouldn’t be a violation of the city code. That would effectively take away any financial incentive for cops to make the busts since any fines would go to the county, not Detroit.

However, the Detroit Election Commission stopped the proposal from going before voters, saying it was advised by the city Law Department that the measure was in conflict with state law and therefore shouldn’t be allowed on the ballot.

Proponents for the initiative appealed the ruling in Circuit Court, arguing that it wasn’t the place of the Election Commission to determine if a measure conforms to state law. After losing at that level, they took their case to the state Court of Appeals, which ruled 2-1 in favor of the activists in February.

The city then appealed to the Supreme Court, which today decided not to hear that appeal, essentially upholding the appellate court ruling.

It doesn’t mean that the measure, if passed, won’t at some point be declared illegal. It does mean that the court has decided that it shouldn’t be blocked from going before voters in the first place.

In other words, democracy is being allowed to run its course. Barring unforeseen obstacles, the measure should be on the ballot for August’s primary election.

It is the second time this week the supremes have taken a liberal view regarding a marijuana related issue. In a unanimous decision, the court overruled an appellate court decision and established that, as long they have received a doctor’s recommendation to use marijuana to help treat a valid condition, patients should be afforded broad protections under the state’s voter-approved medical marijuana law.

Imagine that — a court deciding that it should pay attention to what a majority of the population says it wants on this issue.

High times, indeed.

More by Curt Guyette

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