OAK PARK- The Safermichigan Coalition, a statewide organization of marijuana law reform activists, has secured a victory in their battle to put their legalization proposal on the August primary ballot in the Oakland County community of Oak Park.
The proposal would legalize the possession, use and transfer of one ounce or less of marijuana on private property, and remove the illegality of transporting small amounts of cannabis in an automobile. Possession by minors, driving while smoking and transfers of more than one ounce would still remain criminal acts.
The Safermichigan Coalition’s local partner in the dispute, the Safer Oak Park Coalition, submitted sufficient signatures early enough to qualify to have the issue on the August primary bu the clerk of Oak Park, T. Edwin Norris, refused to comply.
Norris interpreted election law in a unique way. He felt that his office could not officially agree to put the issues on the ballot until confirmation letters had been received by the Governor and Attorney General, a position he expressed in his reply to the lawsuit. That suit sought a Writ of Mandamus, a court order stating a government official has been derelict in his duty, in this case Norris.
After several court appearances and a City Council meeting the two sides have reached an agreement. The issue will be placed on the August primary ballot, as Safer Oak Park had wished, and if the Attorney General chooses to sue Oak Park, the Safermichigan Coalition will support the city.
It’s an important victory early in the election year. The Safermichigan Coalition has nearly a dozen different cities targeted for local ballot initiatives in 2014; the Oak Park experience should deter any other communities from trying any legal wrangling to obstruct the petition and election process.
This is not the first time courts have been used as weapons to stop marijuana laws from being changed. In 2010 the Coalition had to sue the Detroit Election Commission for refusing to place a marijuana legalization issue on the ballot; that court case went all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court. Safermichigan won that case, too, and the issue went on the ballot in 2012. It was widely approved by the voters.
In 2014, signatures have been submitted in Hazel Park and Oak Park to offer the option of legalization to their citizens in August; signature drives are ongoing in Lapeer, Utica, Saginaw, Clare, Harrison and other cities around the state. Those petition drives should secure various marijuana law reform questions on the November general election ballot.
To properly fund those petition drives, the Safermichigan Coalition is hosting a fundraiser on Thursday, May 5 at Dominic’s Restaurant on Monroe Street in Ann Arbor. It is a 21-and-over event which will occupy the second floor front balcony with seating for 100. There will be an auction to benefit the Coalition, led by attorney and Michigan NORML leader Matthew Abel, so attendees are encouraged to donate items to be auctioned.
Cost to attend is $50, all contributions must be in check form made out to The Safer Michigan Coalition. If you are unable to attend, you can mail a check to:
P.O. Box 3562, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48106 (All contributions to the campaigns must be by check).
7:30 – 9:30 PM Dominick’s 812 Monroe St., Ann Arbor Thursday June 5 $50 minimum.