Detroit's Proposal M would legalize pot possession in some cases - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Detroit's Proposal M would legalize pot possession in some cases

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By Maurielle Lue
Fox 2 News Reporter


DETROIT (WJBK) -- "We do not believe that a person peacefully using marijuana should be arrested or prosecuted any more than somebody's who's drinking a vodka martini," said Tim Beck.

Legalizing marijuana has been a national debate for more than a decade.  Now it could be a reality in Detroit.  After years of litigation, Proposal M is finally on the ballot in Detroit.  The proposal would decriminalize possession of an ounce or less of marijuana on private property for those 21 and older.

Beck from the Coalition for Safer Detroit is responsible for the initiative.  He says passing Prop M will allow Detroit police to solve real problems instead of chasing what he calls victimless crimes.

"Vandalism, breaking and entering, auto theft -- people don't like that stuff and it's out of control, so take that money away, that $3 million, reallocate it to get more police working on those types of crimes that are actually destroying this city."

In 2009, Detroit spent almost $3 million prosecuting the estimated 1,500 arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana.  Beck says that's money the state could use in larger scale drug prosecutions.

Many express concern that marijuana is a gateway drug and legalizing it will only make the city more dangerous and drug infested.

"There (are) plenty of drugs in Detroit," Beck said with a laugh.  "This law is not going to encourage anybody to smoke marijuana that isn't doing it already."

"These young hoodlums, they're going down the street, they're chugging Colt 45, they're smoking weed and harassing people, and that's intolerable.  We don't want that.  That's why we say private property.  Just be responsible.  We don't want people walking around the street smoking marijuana and causing other people that don't like marijuana to get uncomfortable."

Similar proposals to decriminalize marijuana had already been passed in Denver and Seattle.  In Ann Arbor, getting caught with a small amount of marijuana is equivalent to a minor traffic ticket, and in Kalamazoo, it's the lowest law enforcement priority.  Still, it's not something everyone agrees on.

"They have a lot more things to be worried about other than what's going on.  They need to clean up downtown first and get some good people in office," said Mark Saunders.

"I don't think they should allow it because our kids (are) out of control right now and I feel that... (isn't) doing (anything) but giving them another way to get (a) hold of the stuff," said Carline Williams.

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