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Detroit Ponders Marijuana Legalization

And it's about time...

Supporters of the proposal say it would free police to go after violent criminals, ease jail crowding and even encourage a safe alternative to alcohol. Some criminal justice and medical experts dispute those ideas."Our feeling is, how do we put an end to the drug war? This would be a step," said attorney and medical marijuana user Matthew Abel, 51, of Detroit.

"Once I explain this to people, they're in agreement with it, overwhelmingly," Stanley said, as he sat last month at a card table inside Farmer John's Market on Detroit's east side. A U.S. Army veteran, Stanley said he quit using marijuana "when I left Vietnam" in 1970, "but I think it should be legal."

State Rep. LaMar Lemmons, a Democrat from Detroit, said he helped write the new proposal. "I'd like our police to concentrate on violent crimes," Lemmons said.

Former state Rep. Leon Drolet of Macomb Township calls himself "a very proud Libertarian Republican" who favors legalization."We all make decisions about our health, whether it's drinking alcohol or having a slice of cake. There's lots of things people choose to do because they feel, in some way, it enhances their quality of life," he said.

Lawyers. Soldiers. Liberals. Libertarians. The voices calling for a reasonable approach to drug use in and around Detroit continue to diversify, continue to grow, continue to echo a national conversation that's growing ever louder. It's time for new thinking in regards to drug use in this country. It's time to put legalization squarely on the table.

Oh, and you can add cops to that growing list of those favoring an end to drug prohibition, too. Shortly after my piece the other day about the slaying of veteran Detroit police officer Brian Huff, who died rushing into a suspected drug den, I heard from Tom Angell, a spokesman for LEAP, an organization of law enforcement officers opposed to the current drug policies. Seems there are plenty of police officers, sheriff's deputies and other law enforcement officials who also believe that chasing these would-be Pablo Escobars is just as futile as it was to chase liquor bootleggers during the reign of the Volstead Act.

Like the courageous Officer Huff, these are the men and women we ask to serve on the frontlines of this insane and unwinnable "drug war," and a growing number of them are tired of trying to fight with guns a problem that would be much better handled through legalization, taxation and control...just like alcohol.

Funny thing is, I've also talked about the possibility of drug legalization with a few dudes who (ahem, allegedly) sell dope. And almost to a man, they're against it and for one reason only: They stand to lose a lot of money. Fear of death or arrest often doesn't seem to faze some of these guys. But the thought of going broke? Well, that's what, literally, keeps them up at night.

And that's what legalization would mean. Just as the end of alcohol prohibition snatched billions from the hands of bootlegging networks throughout North America, so would legalization of drugs remove the sole reason for the existence of the black market that thrives in big cities and rural towns alike, that is, the cash. Yes, we will always have crime, no matter what policies we enact. But we don't need public policy that actually encourages conditions for violent markets to fester (and our prisons to needlessly swell).

Illegal business is still business. And maybe that's why you also now have businessmen, like Peter Karmanos Jr., the president and chief executive officer of Detroit-based Compuware, saying he too believes it's time to eliminate the profit motive from the illegal drug trade.

"All we have to do to make Detroit a safe place, for CNN's benefit, is just legalize drugs, or decriminalize them, and get rid of all this other nonsense around it," Karmanos said.

"I've advised  a few governors to to that, by the way. They've advised me not to say that publicly," he said.

Obviously, Karmanos is not listening. And hopefully, voters won't listen to that foolish advice either, should the legalization proposal make the ballot.

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  • 1


    You may remember that I told you that my wife was killed by a drunk driver. They weren't even going to charge him.

    No skid marks no attempt to swerve, no avoidance at all.

    I believe that he had been sucking rope as well.

    And there are no laws against driving while on drugs.
    There should be.

    Maybe decriminalizing it would ease a few things but you had better criminalize it for drivers because it is exceedingly dangerous.


    If Chastity were killed in a similar fashion you might agree with me.


    • 1.1

      I agree that there it should not be allowed while driving. However, research at the University of Montreal about 8 years back found that drivers under the influence of marijuana were much safer than drivers under the influence of alcohol. Whereas they got an indestructible feeling from alcohol, while under the influence of marijuana, the subjects were aware of their impairment and took actions such as driving slower and starting braking sooner when stopping. I'm not arguing you should be allowed to drive high. Just to put a little perspective out there.

    • 1.2

      Sucking rope?

      Anyway, you are mistaken about your law.,1607,7-127-1627_8665_9070-24488--,00.html
      See OWVI.

  • 2

    have a number of stoner friends (i myself don't enjoy it at all) but to say that marijuana is a dangerous drug like cocaine, heroin, or meth is just untrue. glad to see we (as in the government) we are beginning to seriously consider legalizing this so we can stop wasting way too much money on prosecuting and jailing people who smoke this and actually maybe start making money on it

  • 3

    marijuana is violence, it is a sedative of nature that creates natural barbaric cruel violent instincts towards others who aren't as strong. the keyword of this news is 'violence' and this issue doesn't really cover going after violent crime but make more of it. if a law says you cannot smoke marijuana it should not be smoked by anybody, period. yet 100 & 1000's and so on use it nearly or everyday,illegally. they are giving in by the legalization & tricked in the same manner. countries that have legalized marijuana are the roughest neighborhoods and the violent crime does not stop & they cannot re-illegal it. it's out of control. I'm not against marijuana as it could be used correctly but so can a baseball bat. prohibition is not the answer because they'll get it anyway, there needs to be more information about the drug and for better guidance not to do it and not to break any laws. seriously if the people who want to get high they can just go to Canada! p.s. they don't want to because it's too dangerous that a stoned maniac will flip out & do something insane.

  • 4

    @hoverzero: This is performance art, right? The ignorance on display in the paragraph is staggering. I've narrowed your misinformation down to three possible sources: 1) A 1950's ingrained prejudice against African Americans, jazz music, and the wacky weed, 2) A concerted effort to spread drug abuse propaganda (maybe you're a drug dealer with a financial stake in the topic, and a library card), or 3) Simple internet trolling. Any of which would be simply embarrassing.

    As far Canada as a land full of stoned maniacs: oh come on. Does it really need to be proven to you that the rate of violent crime in Canada is absurdly lower than that of the US? And have you even been in the presence of someone high on marijuana? The only violence they're usually capable of is that kind where teeth are used against snack foods. Seriously, I hope that entire post you gave was a joke.

  • 5

    If hoverzero's comment was intended to be legitimate and not a joke, then he/she has got to be, without a doubt, the most ignorant person on the planet.

  • 6

    Question? I've never smoked "marijuana." Why do some who smoke it/ingest it become such advocates for it? It's not addictive, like cigarettes, but does seem to create a kind of psychological dependency. From my reading, the psychoactive chemical THC evolved, similar to nicotine, as a plant poison, probably to disrupt the nervous systems of insects and/or herbivores that fed off of the plant. You could say that we have domesticated marijuana (tobacco), but sometimes it seems like it's the marijuana plant that's in charge, enlisting armies of people to replicate its DNA.

    The drug war? What a policy failure and nightmare! If the drug war is temporarily successful, and reduces the supply of drugs, the price goes up and attracts new suppliers. My guess is that we'll continue down this road simply because there are too many people who profit from this failed policy: growers, dealers, law enforcement, probation officers, judges, corrections, lawyers, treatment centers, and the elected public officials who delight in moral posturing.

  • 7

    Marijuana is nothing like dangerous. If it were, the hospitals would not be administrating it to patients. I've done the alcohol thing. Didn't like it. I've done the weed thing. That was much better. My muscles relaxed. My blood pressure came down. Anxiety was reduced. I did have the dentency to focus a little to hard and get lost in deep though a lot. :) Yes it did make me more alert when driving. It helped with my insommnia problem I've had sence I was a little child. It seemed to eleveate my hypoglycemia problem some too. It also help calm me in my bouts with vertigo. the only problem I ever had was reading material. I couldn't be around that stuff. If I was, I was reading everthing. Everything was fasinating to me to read about. Stress was relieved. Frustration was relieved. Tention was relieved. Nicotine dependancy was held at bay while I quit smoking cigerettes. I don't smoke cigs no more. I gave that up now. I haven't even smoked weed in a long time now. I guess I just sort of drifted away from it now a days. I did increase my appitite a bit. Now I'm not a bean pole no more. I'm not fat, but I'm not skinny eather anymore like I was years ago. All the B.S. they been saying all these years, about MJ is just nothing more then that. Just simply put, B.S. hype.

  • 8

    Sounds to me like none of you have lost a loved one because of the lethal combination of alcohol and grass.

    And if there is a law against driving under the influence of drugs, how frequently do the police test for it? Zip!

    A sentient Medical Professional should weigh in unless they are spaced out.

    Some of the comments are absolutely dreamy.


    • 8.1

      Bill, I am sorry about your loss. I understand and know where you are coming from. Losing someone that way is very difficult, I know, trust me. The only issue I would just like to bring up is you say apparently no one has lost someone because of the "lethal combination" of both grass and alcohol. #1, it is not a lethal combination. Drinking and smoking at the same time is not lethal. Getting behind the wheel and driving after drinking is lethal, not the alcohol itself. Also, how many people have died in accidents due to the influence of marijuana? Hard to find. (actually many things you come across will say no one has died from marijuana). Now look up how many have died in accidents due to being under the influence of alcohol. That is very easy to find.

      I just have a problem with how it was said here. The "lethal combination" of alcohol and marijuana is, my opinion, slightly off. It was the combination of alcohol and driving that is to blame.

      Someone under the influence of marijuana is much LESS likely to run red lights, forget to stop, swerve, speed, have blurred vision, etc compared to someone under the influence of alcohol. That has been proven. Don't go as quick to blame marijuana on something mainly caused by another (alcohol).

      I'm sorry about your loss but don't let it blind you from the facts.

  • 9

    Well to put things in perpective. IMO. When I was drunk on beer. I was happy....and Dumb. I gave no thought to nothing. When I was high. Thinking was what I did best. When I was drunk. I did stupit stuff. When I was high. I sat back and realized how stupit I was drinking. I only mixed the 2 once in life. Never again though. Bad experience. Why? I was drunk BEFORE I puffed. It didn't take long to figure out how far in the toilet I was then. The next morning, after the hangover, I said to myself. Never again will I mix the two. Infact that is when I learned that puff'in was better then booz'in. It was then I gave up drinking at the bars. Then I just puffed at home before bed time.

  • 10

    In addition to my last post. I can't say I ever heard of anyone dieing from weed or because of weed. Nor have I ever in my life time ever heard of an accident caused from weed influance. But I have always heard of death, injuries and crashes from drunks.

  • 11

    I agree that legalizing marijuana is the thing to do although how do we know that it will stop those that sell it now from committing violent crimes. If they indeed lose money from the legalization won't they look for other ways to gain that loss back? I feel like that may lead to the sale of other illegal drugs by these guys thus keeping the level of violent crime the same... just not related to marijuana.

  • 12

    The decision by the people of this country concerning legalization of the marijuana medicinal plant that has been used by humans for thousands of years is based in choosing between two opinions. The first one, articulated by the "father" of marijuana prohibition in the 1930-s and the second one by Dr Greenspoon, one of the leading contemporary experts in this country.

    These are the the direct quotes from the prohibitionist Harry Anslinger pushing the "Marijuana Tax Act" of 1937 that led to the prohibition of this quintessential medicinal plant:

    "There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.”

    “…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.”

    “Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.”

    “Reefer makes darkies think they're as good as white men.”

    “Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing”

    “You smoke a joint and you're likely to kill your brother.”

    “Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.”

    And this is what Dr. Greenspoon said in 2006 about Cannabis Sativa medicinal Plant:

    "Cannabis will one day be seen as a wonder drug, as was penicillin in the 1940s. Like penicillin, herbal marijuana is remarkably nontoxic, has a wide range of therapeutic applications and would be quite inexpensive if it were legal".
    Dr. Lester Grinspoon, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Los Angeles Times, May 5, 2006 "

    These are two opinions the citizens around the country will be asked to compare and to choose from. I do not believe that the choice is exceedingly difficult one. What I believe is that the fear-tactics must be rejected once and for all, and at least medical marijuana should be legalized in all 50 States ASAP.

  • 13

    All of the prohibitionists' arguments boil down to a single point: If my college-age child gets a little off track and starts using marijuana, the prohibitionists want to put them in PRISON. Prison is not good for my kids or for yours, and it's much worse than the effects of marijuana, so we can pretty well disregard all of the prohibitionist nonsense about keeping it illegal “to protect the children.” I hope my kids steer clear of marijuana, but I REALLY hope that if they do use a little marijuana, they don't end up in prison and don't have to pay the prohibitionist “treatment” cronies in order to remain free and productive.

    It's time to put the criminals out of business and let ordinary Americans grow a little marijuana in their own back yards (maybe a $100 per year permit for a dozen plants).

  • 14

    I served as an USAF social actions officer in the '70s. I know the hyprocrisy of America's drug policies. Trained to assist opiate addicts returning from Vietnam, in reality, 99.9 percent of those with drug-related issues used alcohol. They were abetted by the military's cheap booze and social atmosphere of the officer and enlisted clubs. Alcohol remains America's number one drug problem. Users of alcohol and marijuana are different in that alcohol often has a violence associated with related problems and offenses while marijuana does not. Grass smokers are not breaking into people's houses or acccosting people to maintain habits. There are no known deaths related to overdose in the 3,500 year plus-history of recorded marijuana use. Regular grass smokers quickly build up a tolerance to the drug and are not stoners, spaced out someplace. Most regular users would never be noticed as evidenced by the regular medical marijuna users who go about their normal daily lives. One could drive safely coast-to-coast under the influence of marijuana, but would endanger others driving under alcohol across town.
    I agree that legalizing marijuana would take out the profit motive and reduce the blackmarket criminal element who often push more dangerous substances like opiates, speed, cocaine, etc. Alcohol is the "gateway drug" not marijuana and legalization would actually reduce drug consumption of the more dangerous recreational drugs. Many of the "baby boomers into their '60s have health issues that would be aided by marijuana use rather than the expensive, side-effects, and potential of addiction of heavily-promoted prescription drugs. It would also, as mentioned, reduce the number of inmates locked up, the cost of chasing, arresting, and prosecuting largely non-violent crimes which cost state and America billions without making a significant dent. The "war on drugs" is a war on people. Amsterdam, which has the longest history of legal marijuana/hashish use has fewer drug problems that other large cities.
    Lastly, legalizing marijuana would also legalize hemp or commercial (no THC) marijuana which is one of the most eco-friendly, useful plants on the planet. It is self-mulching (no heribicides), resists pests (no pesticides), grows in marginal soil (like South Dakota Indian reservations) and actually improves the soil by removing heavy metals. It also can be made into literally hundreds of useful products--hemp, paper, cloth, plastics, and as a renewable bio-fuel. Henry Ford actually developed an automobile in the '40s made almost entirely from marijuana.
    The medical benefits of marijuana, studied extensively in the late '60s and '70s, showed that it was mostly a mild intoxicant, not the wild and crazy drug often portrayed in the media and useful in treating a number of health issues. It is time that America and our legistlators took a sensible (non-emotional or profit-driven) approach to drug use rather than burdening our police force and government budgets with costly, mostly health-related and social issues.

  • 15

    Reading these comments I was struck with the thought that these beliefs are very indicative of the population in general. Most people realize that marijuana prohibition was based on Reefer Madness spin and that the drug war is and was a failed policy and a bad idea. The truth has gained a majority foothold and is spreading, however the people who are against marijuana have very strong views, based on either misinformation (as mentioned above) or in some cases from bad experiences related to loved ones where there were other circumstances (or substances) involved. For these people my heart goes out for your loss but I would suggest that if marijuana were the only substance involved there may have been no tragedy. Marijuana and peace are synonymous.

    For those people with strong negative opinions of marijuana, please don't be too angry when marijuana is legal but if you feel a violent tendency take a trip to Canada, smoke a reefer in a cafe and chill out. We love American's and welcome one and all, no-matter what your beliefs. You'll be amazed at how calm, civilized and peace-loving Canadian's are. We are very proud neighbors and glad to see a healthy dialog about removing marijuana from the drug war but wish you'd take aim against pharmaceuticals, especially Oxycontin which is causing mayhem all over the world.

    There are some very intelligent comments in support of marijuana included here. I especially appreciate the quote from Dr. Lestor Grinspoon, since he started out his career, over 40 years ago, with the intention of scientifically proving that marijuana was harmful. This quote is worth repeating and why I'm an advocate:

    "Cannabis will one day be seen as a wonder drug, as was penicillin in the 1940s. Like penicillin, herbal marijuana is remarkably nontoxic, has a wide range of therapeutic applications and would be quite inexpensive if it were legal".
    Dr. Lester Grinspoon, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Los Angeles Times, May 5, 2006 "

  • 16

    I am for legalization. But I see one problem which may be unsolvable. For some people marijuana causes delusions, hallucinations, and feelings of paranoia. In those with a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia, using marijuana is often a prelude to the onset of active symptoms. If use is a trigger (though first use of marijuana often coincides with the beginnings of the active phase of schizophrenia), when it is legalized, more people will become affected by this nasty disease. There is no way to keep them safe. Even if smoking is only allowed in private homes, passive smoke may affect individuals.
    It would be wrong to impose a law upon the many because of the few. And we can't expect these few to police themselves -- not least because many of them might not admit that they are at risk. I don't see any way out of this.

  • 17

    I say legalize it, Tax the heck out of it, finance our schools! Same goes for prostitution!

  • 18

    Respect to Mr. Dawsey for uplifting this topic. All currently illegal substances should be legalized, taxed heavily and regulated. Having a universal set of standards in place would actually cut down on the unpurity that most street-level product has (and its the other stuff that also adds to side-effects for users). There should be age limits for access, say, age 21. Schools and workplaces can still have anti-drug statutes, same as before. Just like you can't drink on the job, you can't get be high on the job, and can still be fired for failing a drug test. You'd still be arrested for driving while high. Feel free to make the penalties harsh with fines.

    Also, there should only be licensed outlets for sales of said substances, say, pharmacies. Now, many mainstream pharmacies (Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS) may balk at selling metered doses of 'coca', but, maybe this is where smaller-scale, independent pharmacies can make their niche, and become thriving small businesses again, since so many of them in recent decades have lost ground to the Big-Box pharmacy outlets.

    It's interesting that Mr. Dawsey interviewed some fellows who 'allegedly' are involved in street trafficking and are opposed to legalization. This would mean that they would have to go to school and be licensed to sell drugs now to make any real salary. I'm for it.

    The Tax money can be used for prevention programs, rehab programs, public schools, transit improvement, and more.

    However, there would be nearly impossible obstacles to overcome in getting traction for this at the legislative level.

    No one really wants to hear the logic in the decriminalization argument, let alone the legalization/taxation/regulation argument. Almost literally no mainstream politician looking to get reelected again, Democrat or Republican, will get behind this. The super-patriotic, tough-on-crime absolutists will insist that society has "waved the white flag" to drug gangs. Some black activists will insist that it is a "white folks thing" trying to get pushed on black Detroit. The religious community will harp on this incessantly as an example of "turning away from God" and "embracing hedonism"-- look at Marvin Winans with the strip-clubs debate. You will have people trying to flip the argument that legalization means you're telling school-aged Johnny and Jane that it's okay to shoot up heroin (No, that's NOT what the argument is).

    I find it amazing that there are any number of folks who don't mind the "legalized sin" of casinos, and who would throw a fit if alcohol were banned (again), and who get upset at public-smoking restrictions, but they absolutely are against any form of drug legalization because it's a "slippery slope".

  • 19

    This is such an amazing entry and I love to read more of it so that I will be able to look over and have it as an inspiration for further articles to write about when it comes to updates on legalizing marijuana and it's pros and cons too. I do hope you will get to visit our official website and let us know what you think about it. Here is the link
    and thanks ahead. :)

  • 20

    This is such an amazing entry and I love to read more of it

    so that I will be able to look over and have it as an

    inspiration for further articles to write about when it

    comes to updates on legalizing marijuana and it's pros and

    cons too. I do hope you will get to visit our official

    website and let us know what you think about it. Here is

    the link

    Thanks ahead :)

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