Aug 172013
 August 17, 2013

decriminalization marijuana“House Representatives do not make the decision to raid your house, nor do they represent you once you are in the legal system. Until the law enforcers demonstrate that attitudes and practices are changing, law creators exist in an advisory capacity only.”

I attended the Town Hall meeting held by Reps. Mike Shirkey and Jeff Irwin in Grass Lake last night. There were 60 people in the audience, a guest speaker from Chicago and big American flag on the wall. The subject: decriminalizing marijuana in Michigan via Irwin’s House Bill 4623.

Decriminalization would make minor marijuana offenses civil infractions instead of misdemeanor crimes. A violation would result in a ticket, not a court case; Grand Rapids passed a law with the same requirement in 2012 and the results have been fantastic. Decriminalization would not stop police from arresting serious dealers or minors in possession of marijuana.

It’s tough to speak to a room full of haters, but one of the guest did just that. Rep. Shirkey asked a prosecutor from the area to come forward and share his view point with the crowd of admittedly pro-marijuana activists. He was animated, he was funny, and he spoke frankly about why he would not support decriminalization.

One of his answers struck me oddly. The prosecutor said that it was important to get to the upper level drug dealers and one of the most effective ways to do that is to threaten lower level dealers with jail and penalties if they don’t give up names of their suppliers or growers. “No one is going to be intimidated if you threaten them with a civil infraction ticket,” he told the room, a statement which drew some gasps from the crowd.

This tactic has been used against our friends and ourselves, but the bold statement was a shock. Openly admitting that he opposed decriminalization because it would make the prosecutor’s job harder was a complaint few had actually heard from one who is charged with our protection and safety.

Using marijuana laws to circumvent police procedures or to trick people into committing criminal acts is nothing new. Kevin Spitler of the Michigan Sober Project has been working diligently in Ohio as they move toward more friendly cannabis policies. During the meeting he pointed out that Ohio decriminalized marijuana decades ago but ramped up the penalties for paraphernalia; the officer uses the paraphernalia charge as a lever to force the suspect to give him information in the manner described by the prosecutor.

New York City does the same thing. James Gierach, a Chicago-based speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), spoke at the meeting and reminded the crowd of New York’s stop-and-frisk laws. New York has a low penalty for possession of marijuana but a harsh one for openly displaying cannabis; an officer will ask a person to turn out their pockets and in doing so the cannabis is revealed, creating a public display charge officers can use to force the hapless individual to give them information.

Reps. Shirkey and Irwin were quick to point out they were aware of these associated methods of circumventing marijuana laws and both vowed to be vigilant in preventing similar things from happening in Michigan.

Although I took some comfort from their assurances, I still feel uneasy. House Representatives do not make the decision to raid your house, nor do they represent you once you are in the legal system. Until the law enforcers demonstrate that attitudes and practices are changing, law creators exist in an advisory capacity only.

Source: The Compassion Chronicles

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About Rick Thompson

"Rick Thompson was the Editor in Chief for the entire 2-year run of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine, was the spokesman for the Michigan Association of Compassion Centers and is the current Editor and Lead Blogger for The Compassion Chronicles. Rick has addressed committees in both the House and Senate, has authored over 200 articles on marijuana and is a professional photographer."Rick Thompson Is An Author At The Compassion Chronicles and focuses on all things Michigan.
  • EphU

    Now wait a minute, “…Until the law enforcers demonstrate that attitudes and practices are changing, law creators exist in an advisory capacity only.”

    So what you are telling me is that LEOs are in charge? Funny, the LEOs I know all say they are just following the laws as they are written and just doing their job. Its the politicians that create and repeal laws, right? The legal system decides what punishments for broken laws. The enforcers are the bottom of the food chain and neither decide guilt (LMFAO) or punishment (WTF) but merely interpreting written law YET you say they are the ones pushing the prohibition agenda – indirectly?

    I agree that the enforcers do make decissions to raid and search but they are doing so based on the laws that they have no control over. Our politicians need to man up and stop deflecting responsibility for the action LEOs take on behalf of the laws that they have created.

    Now what blows my mind is the representatives reason for supporting prohibition. If cannabis were legal we would not have all these problems with “upper level” criminal dealers in the first place. Cause and effect azzhole. I promise you that almost everyone I know would buy or grow legally if given a chance just to end prohibition and stomp the dealers profits into the ground. As for the sideways methods of enforcing prohibition by trickery and subversion, I say again, if the laws were written properly in the first place we would not be having this conversation at all.

    It’s not rocket science and even if it was, aren’t our elect officials supposed to be smart? It seems we keep electing some of the dumbest S.O.Bs on the planet, but they sure are pretty and speak well now dont they?

    Again sorry if double post … time for another browser, Thanks M.S. !

  • joe voll

    First we all have to know that there IS a DIFFERENCE between LEGALIZATION and DECRIMINALIZATION! Its NOT the same thing.

    DECRIMINALIZATION means NO HOMEGROWS (it will remain a FELONY to grow a single plant for your own use!)
    DECRIMINALIZATION means NO SAFE LEGAL MARIJUANA MARKET! It will remain ILLEGAL to buy or sell marijuana with the threat of fines and jail. So the entire market remains underground with gangs and drug cartels controlling the trade. None of those storefronts about to sell marijuana in Colorado and Washington that are soon to open would be allowed under decriminalization!
    DECRIMINALIZATION means you cannot possess or use any amount of marijuana without paying hundreds of dollars in fines, your marijuana confiscated and possibly jail. You have NO RIGHTS under DECRIMINALIZATION!

    New York, North Carolina, Mississippi, Ohio, Minnesota, and Nebraska all have DECRIMINALIZATION and they still arrest people not only for homegrows but for simple possession!

    ONLY LEGALIZATION would allow any of that!