Pubdate: Mon, 04 Aug 2014
Source: Morning Sun (Mt. Pleasant, MI)
Copyright: 2014 Morning Sun
Author: Susan Field
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Michigan)


Chuck Ream knows that a few cities in mid-Michigan can't change the 
world, or the country.

But he and others hope that ballot initiatives in Mt. Pleasant and 
Harrison in the November election to legalize small amounts of 
marijuana will at the very least get people thinking about 
decriminalizing cannabis on a larger scale.

Ream is part of an effort in to legalize the use, possession or 
transfer of less than 2.5 ounces of marijuana on private property 
among people 21 and older.

In Isabella and Clare counties, the Committee for a Safer Mt. 
Pleasant and the Committee for a Safer Harrison are working toward 
the same goal, and the fate of the initiatives is in the hands of 
voters, who Ream said don't agree with the criminalization of marijuana.

Calling the war against cannabis a monumental travesty, Ream said 
small, localized initiatives are in part a way to get state and 
federal government officials to realize that voters do not buy into 
the cannabis prohibition and don't want their tax dollars to go 
toward the war on marijuana.

Cannabis prohibition has destroyed many lives, Ream said, despite the 
drug having been proven to be less dangerous than legal drugs, such as alcohol.

It's beyond his belief that marijuana is still illegal in the United States.

If voters approve the ballot initiatives in Mt. Pleasant and Harrison 
in the November election, that would be a victory for those seeking 
to decriminalize marijuana.

But state and federal law making marijuana illegal won't change, and 
Ream hopes that cannabis is eventually legalized across the country.

A recent New York Times editorial calling on the federal government 
to legalize marijuana is a significant advance in the process of 
turning around the institutionalization of cannabis prohibition, Ream said.

A big problem Ream has with marijuana being illegal is that lives are 
ruined and many people make money from destroying other people's lives.

Ream was referring to the criminal justice system, saying police and 
courts get funding from drug forfeitures.

Ream also said he hates that non-violent people convicted on 
marijuana charges end up in prison and lose everything they had, at 
times including their children.

Grass roots efforts are happening in other cities, Ream said, and are 
the only option for small groups without much money to spend on campaigns.

Just getting the question on ballots is a step in the right 
direction, Ream said.

Rick Phillips, who represents the Committee for a Safer Harrison, 
spent time going door-to-door recently, collecting 96 signatures, 95 
of which were valid.

At least 71 valid signatures were needed in Harrison to qualify to be 
on the November ballot.

"I knew from talking to people that there was tremendous support for 
this, so I went to the post office and door-to-door, and got the 
signatures," Phillips said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom