Oct 172013
 

michigan medical marijuana town hallLANSING- The use, possession and transfer of marijuana among adults 21 and over in Michigan’s capital city could be legalized by Lansing voters in November. A Lansing State Journal questionnaire asked candidates for mayor and city council how they felt about this issue, and many others; the candidates generally revealed strong support for a more liberal set of marijuana laws.

The issue of legalized marijuana use has the support of the majority of citizen running for office. “I believe it is time to stop the senseless waste of public resources on prosecuting the personal use of marijuana in small quantities on private property,” said Virg Bernero, Lansing’s current Mayor.  Bernero is the lone supporter of the ballot language among mayoral candidates, but each Council race features proponents of the proposed law.

“There’s a reason the latest bill to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana in Michigan was co-sponsored by Democrats and Republicans. Society is moving toward a more tolerant position on this issue,” responded Kathie Dunbar, a candidate for Councilperson-at-large.

Judi Brown Clarke said the proposal “reduces the pressure on police and the judicial system for enforcement, reduces the number of misdemeanors and the negative life-changing consequences of being convicted, and creates a revenue generating opportunity from collected fines.” She and Dunbar are two of the four candidates vying for a pair of at-large posts.

2nd Ward council candidate Tina Houghton stated, “Prohibition never worked for alcohol and certainly isn’t working for cannabis.”

In the 4th Ward, candidate Chong-Anna Canfora offered this: “Voters in Michigan approved medical marijuana usage and production for registered patients and patients should not be prosecuted for possession.” Both she and her opponent Jessica Yorko expressed reservations about some aspects of societal acceptance of cannabis.

Not all of the responses were positive. 4 of the 11 candidates surveyed stated they were not in support of the ballot proposal. “It’s another “diversion,” just like the casino,” said mayoral candidate Harold Leeman Jr. At-Large Councilman candidate Brian Jefferies opined that, “It seems that passage of the proposal will not legalize or decriminalize the use, possession or sale (transfer?) of marijuana in Lansing with the exception of those activities involving drug houses and drug paraphernalia.”

While indicating that, as a citizen, he will probably vote No on the proposal, 4th Ward candidate Charles Hoffmeyer suggested further action on the issue even if the ballot proposal fails. “If this proposal does not pass, I would like to see the City Council hold a hearing to address the specific sections of any existing ordinances that are of concern to the petition organizers. A significant number of Lansing’s voters were willing to affix their signature to a petition supporting this proposal. That action alone should initiate an open and public discussion between residents and their elected officials,” he wrote.

Each candidate’s questionnaire responses to all 15 questions asked, including a video presentation by each candidate, are presented on the LSJ website. Each respondent’s answer to the single marijuana-related question are listed below.

The ballot proposal reads:

“Shall the Charter of the City of Lansing, Michigan be amended such that nothing in the Code of Ordinances shall apply to the the use, possession or transfer of less than 1 ounce of marijuana, on private property, by a person who has attained the age of 21 years?”

Question: Do you support the marijuana ballot proposal that appears on the November ballot?

 

Candidates For Mayor:

Virg Bernero (Incumbent)

A: Yes, although the legal standing of the proposal isn’t as clear as I would like, as with the state’s medical marijuana law, I believe it is time to stop the senseless waste of public resources on prosecuting the personal use of marijuana in small quantities on private property. In addition I support the fact that the ballot proposal restricts decriminalizing these small possessions only for adults 21 and over.

Harold Leeman Jr

A. NO! It’s another “diversion,” just like the casino, regionalism fighting with city council, hand gun control ect. – By the current mayor!! Lets deal with the real issues and be a “Great capital city”! (A city and region to be proud of!!!)

Mary Ann Prince (Write-In Candidate)

A. No. The city and State should follow Federal guide lines on Marijuana.

 

Candidates for Councilman-At-Large: 

Brian Jeffries (Incumbent)

A. The ballot language of the proposal is confusing at best. Trying to obtain information and analysis regarding the proposal does not seem to exist. The ballot language reads as follows:

“Shall the Charter of the City of Lansing, Michigan be amended such that nothing in the Code of Ordinances shall apply to the the use, possession or transfer of less than 1 ounce of marijuana, on private property, by a person who has attained the age of 21 years?”

Lansing’s current Code of Ordinances does not contain a specific ordinance which regulates the use, possession or sale of marijuana. We do have ordinances such as those which deal with drug houses and drug paraphernalia which include marijuana and would seem to be impacted by this proposal. Currently, Lansing charges marijuana offenses under State law which are prosecuted by the Ingham County Prosecutor. It appears that this ballot proposal will not change or prohibit that process.

It seems that passage of the proposal will not legalize or decriminalize the use, possession or sale (transfer?) of marijuana in Lansing with the exception of those activities involving drug houses and drug paraphernalia. I am also confused by the use of the term “transfer” in the ballot proposal as opposed to the use of “sale” which is commonly use in other statutes. I am not sure if transfer means sale or if this is a reference to patient to patient transfers of medical marijuana and an attempt to resolve those issues.

Kathie Dunbar (Incumbent)

A: Yes. There’s a reason the latest bill to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana in Michigan was co-sponsored by Democrats and Republicans. Society is moving toward a more tolerant position on this issue. It costs the state $325 million a year to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate marijuana users. Anyone who advocates for government to reduce spending should consider, at the least, changing possession of small amounts of marijuana from a criminal to a civil infraction.

Ted O’Dell

A. Yes.

Judi Brown Clarke

A: Yes, in concept. Legalization of “one once of marijuana” reduces the pressure on police and the judicial system for enforcement, reduces the number of misdemeanors and the negative life-changing consequences of being convicted, and creates a revenue generating opportunity from collected fines.

 

Candidates for City Council, 4th Ward: 

Jessica Yorko (Incumbent)

A. I think the push for legalization due to medical and other uses is growing, particularly because of law enforcement actions and resources that are used dealing with adults in possession of small quantities. However, I am concerned the increase in youth marijuana use in Ingham County, and the (real) lung and brain development impacts for those under 18.

 

Chong-Anna Canfora

A. Yes. Voters in Michigan approved medical marijuana usage and production for registered patients and patients should not be prosecuted for possession. However, if possession is legalized, we should proceed with caution and we will need to examine current laws for driving under the influence and possession of a firearm under the influence to make sure protections are in place.

 

Candidates for City Council, 2nd Ward: 

Tina Houghton (Incumbent)

A: I support marijuana decriminalization, which is what I believe is the intent of the ballot proposal. Prohibition never worked for alcohol and certainly isn’t working for cannabis. The modern public understands how much criminalization is wasting taxpayer resources, as it fills overcrowded prisons with nonviolent offenders and it diverts police attention from their top priority – violent crime. Additionally, public opinion is shifting toward addressing marijuana like alcohol, so it can be regulated and taxed.

Charles Hoffmeyer

A: I will likely vote “No” on this specific ballot proposal.

The ballot language reads: “Shall the Charter of the City of Lansing, Michigan be amended such that nothing in the Code of Ordinances shall apply to the use, possession or transfer of less than one ounce of marijuana, on private property, by a person who has attained the age of 21 years?”

I do not have an issue with the use or possession by an adult on private property.

Transfer is less clearly defined; the method of transfer could have any number of meanings and could result in unanticipated outcomes for our community. A person using a personal vehicle to transfer marijuana from one location to another location for personal use could be one interpretation, which I would be willing to support. The transfer/sale by one person to any number of other persons on the front lawn or street corner of a privately owned property could be another interpretation, which I would not want to support.

As use, possession, and transfer of marijuana would still be illegal under State statute, this proposal does not change Lansing PD’s ability to enforce existing laws. I am not clear what benefit would result from the passage of the proposed charter amendment.

If this proposal does not pass, I would like to see the City Council hold a hearing to address the specific sections of any existing ordinances that are of concern to the petition organizers. A significant number of Lansing’s voters were willing to affix their signature to a petition supporting this proposal. That action alone should initiate an open and public discussion between residents and their elected officials.

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.
  • painkills2

    Whenever I read articles like this, I substitute the word “alcohol” for the word “marijuana.” Trying to create laws that place more restrictions on cannabis than there are on alcohol just doesn’t make sense.

  • Marcus2012

    When and where do we cast our votes for this? I’ve never voted in a non-presidential election. :/