Marijuana reform not a step forward
In November, Lansing residents will vote on an initiative to legalize the use, possession and transfer of marijuana on private property within the city, leaving citizens with questions about their rights and protection under law.
Sensible drug policies that protect individuals and focus police attention on larger, more important crimes are necessary. While this proposed Lansing law carries this intention, we fear it will fall short.
By legalizing marijuana within the home while continuing to criminalize public possession, the law has a greater potential for blowback than benefit.
“Nothing in the Code of Ordinances shall apply to the use, possession or transfer of less than one ounce of marijuana, on private property, by a person who has attained the age of 21 years,” the initiative reads.
This creates a situation where many MSU students, of age and in living in Lansing, carrying their soon-to-be legally possessed marijuana, would have to sneak like criminals back home.
The proposal makes no mention of the growing, selling and trafficking that brings marijuana into these private properties.
People still would have to interact with criminals to buy marijuana, and another scenario could have medical marijuana patients targeted by police if they were used as drug mules for their ability to legally carry medical marijuana on Lansing streets.
The idea that marijuana would be transferred instead of being sold is illogical. The idea that an ounce of marijuana could be used before leaving private premises is even more so.
Citizens need an initiative that takes the purchase, transportion and other realities of marijuana use into account. A drug-dealing stork is not the mastermind of marijuana sales in Lansing, people are.
Marijuana is not an explosive substance. Making it legal for someone 21 or older to carry under an ounce of marijuana in public — not using, not selling, but carrying — is a necessary addition to this initiative.
This appears to be a quasi-legalization that doesn’t go far enough and is potentially worse than leaving marijuana law alone. Law must take into account all factors and leave nothing to question, especially when drug use is the issue.
This thin line between citizen and criminal does not solidify any sort of progressive change in drug policy.
Furthermore, under this initiative, Lansing police could enter private property and make marijuana arrests citing state law. The only repercussion would be that drug fine revenue would go to the state treasury and not the city’s.
Or police could avoid that repercussion by waiting until the people inside exit the house and become criminals under city law.
There are too many hypotheticals and apparent gaps that work against the sponsor’s goals when thinking out the effects of this initiative.
Citizens cannot be told they are safe and law-abiding in one case, and in another be arrested as criminals simply for being outside the home.
If this initiative, or any similar conflicting legislation between state and city, is to pass and be successful, city police must make it clear to their citizens where they stand.