Proposed changes to charter involve weed consumption

Antonio Cosme, an Eastern Michigan University graduate who heads the Committee for a Safer Ypsilanti, said at a press conference at EMU May 23 that his group will promote an amendment to the Ypsilanti city charter to make “possession of small amounts of cannabis the lowest law enforcement priority.”

Charles Ream of the Coalition for a Safer Michigan, another group supporting and promoting the proposed amendment, said it offers students a chance to affect public policy.

“This is not about marijuana,” Ream said. “It’s about police priorities. Police should not be chasing plants.”

The group’s proposed amendment petition reads: “Shall the city charter be amended such that use and/or consumption of one ounce or less of usable marijuana by adults 21 years or older is the lowest priority of law enforcement personnel?”

Ream said small-scale pot arrests increase the frequency of other crimes, citing studies and newspaper articles.

He also said focusing so much energy on marijuana “[takes] officers off the street … and [distracts] them from being able to focus on fighting other crime.”

Ream described the success his group achieved in “conservative” Kalamazoo, which passed a LLEP proposal by 4,649 to 2,416 in November 2011.

“We have a leadership role to play in Washtenaw County,” he said.

Ream urged EMU students to get involved and pointed out that Ypsilanti passed a medical marijuana ordinance by 80 percent compared to Ann Arbor’s 79 percent, and that Ypsilanti has issued several licenses under the ordinance while Ann Arbor is “still too chicken to issue any.”

Ream presented Cosme with a check for $1,000 to support the amendment campaign, which he said represents one dollar for every petition signature the group needs. While only 700 signatures are required to place the question on the ballot, Ream said the group needs to get 1,000 signatures to be sure at least 700 of them are valid.

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