Voters’ wishes eclipsed by officials

November was a great month for supporters of easing laws against marijuana use.

Following the election, residents from states across the country, including Colorado and Washington, helped pass referendums to reduce penalties for possession of the drug and even ways to make it easier to obtain or grow. Many cities also made similar decisions on easing drug restrictions, including five cities in Michigan.

Despite the number of residents from the handful of cities, including Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Ypsilanti, who have made their opinions on the drug issue clear, some political leaders and law enforcement authorities have been dragging their feet in an attempt to make the voter-passed initiatives impossible.

Editorial Board

Andrew Krietz
Katie Harrington
Greg Olsen
Derek Blalock
Omari Sankofa II
Holly Baranowski

Although this disconnect demonstrates the strong difference of opinion that exists between elected officials and their constituents, since these referendums have been passed, it makes one confused as to why this topic still is an issue.

By blatantly disregarding voters’ wishes, the political leaders and law enforcement authorities from these areas send an uneasy message about how the law works.

The issue of marijuana use is a topic that has caused major dispute in this country, but something that also gained voter support. In Michigan alone, many cities have voiced their support for easing drug restrictions since November, including Mount Clemens, Jackson, Lansing and Traverse City.

As more cities and states across the country pass similar legislation easing laws against marijuana use, legislators and law enforcers should be focusing their attention on other issues.

Specifically in areas such as Flint, where the city’s state-appointed emergency manager declared Flint’s police will ignore the new drug ordinance, it is impossible not to question why law enforcement authorities wouldn’t welcome this change as a chance to concentrate on the city’s bigger issues.

Similar reactions also have been expressed by authorities in Kalamazoo, who said they would rather avoid implementing voters’ wishes than violate state drug laws.

No matter which viewpoint an elected official has on a certain issue, when voters make their wishes on something clear, it is that politician’s obligation to make the proper changes.

State laws carry more weight than those created by local governments, but this fact shouldn’t immediately discredit the demands of the people in those specific areas.

Regardless of your stance on the drug issue, the need for elected officials to work with their constituents and form a mutual understanding is something that is impossible to argue against.

As more and more citizens from these cities voice their demands for easing the laws surrounding marijuana use, one thing is clear: it is the responsibility of our elected officials to vocalize our demands, and carry out the areas of change we see fit.

By continuing to stand in the way of this voter-passed referendum, it comes across as a slap in the face to the people who voted them into office, and is something that needs to change.

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