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  • The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues

    Ypsilanti police are still searching for the person dubbed the “mystery pooper.” Someone has been, as the Associated Press politely puts it today, “soiling slides at an Ypislanti playground over the last six months.” So, of course, someone purchased an electronic billboard along I-94 near Huron St. at exit 183 that delivers multiple calls for action: For instance,”Help us flush the pooper.” The company that purchased the billboard, Adams Outdoor Advertising, knows how to reach the world in the 21st Century, branding each billboard with a hashtag for the public utilize in its efforts: #ypsipooper. WJBK-TV says the billboard also toggles through other rich lines, such as: “Do your civic doody, report the pooper #YPSIPOOPER” “Help us catch the poopetrator #YPSIPOOPER.” You can have the runs, but you can’t hide. They’re still looking for you, Mystery Pooper.

    The post The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co.

    It’s a really, very cool idea. Paxahau, the good people behind the Movement Electronic Music Festival, are hosting a series of warm-up events, or previews, to the big festival which takes place Memorial Day weekend. On Thursday evening, Movement moved into the Urban Coffee Bean on Grand River in Detroit. While Dj AvA and Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp ably worked the decks, the regular coffee shop goings on continued behind them. It made for an interesting and amusing webcast experience – one guy was taking a nap on camera, while others supped coffee and tappd their feet. It should come as no surprise – the Urban Coffee Co. people have always been big supporters of electronic music. The place includes a DJ stand, and co-owner Josh Greenwood encourages customers to bring their own vinyl and spin on the open turntables. Not on Thursday night though. This being a coffee shop, and it not being particularly late at night, the music remained pretty chill throughout. DJ AvA (real name Heather McGuigan) includes Beth Orton, Madonna, the B-52’s, Daftpunk and David Byrne among her list of influences, so you know that she’s capable of both whipping up a storm and also […]

    The post City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co. appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County

    CNN has a message to all prospective landlords: Head to Wayne County! Occupancy and rental rates are increasing, the report says, creating an opportunity for serious returns on investments. In fact, after comparing the median sales price of homes to average monthly rents in nearly 1,600 counties, RealtyTrac found that Detroit’s Wayne County offers landlords the best return on their investment in the nation. Investors who buy homes in the metro area can expect a 30% gross annual return from rents. That’s triple the national average of 10%. RealtyTrac, an online real estate information company, says the county offers investors low prices for larger homes — with a median price of $45,000. “We’ve got some steals here,” said Rachel Saltmarshall, a real estate agent and immediate past president of the Detroit Association of Realtors, told CNN. “There’s a six-bedroom, 6,000 square-foot home in a historic district selling for $65,000.” For more, read the entire report here.

    The post Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit

    This Saturday, audiophiles across the world will venture out to their favorite independent record stores in search of limited releases that quickly become collectors items. The third Saturday of April marks the fairly new international holiday Record Store Day. There are certainly dos and don’ts to know for RSD — like where to shop, and how to shop. That’s right, there is an etiquette to shopping on Record Store Day and violating that code makes you look like a real asshole. In my experience of celebrating Record Store Day, I’ve seen stores use a few different tactics as far as stocking the special releases. Some establishments will set up a table, somewhere in the store, where a few shoppers at a time can flip through records in a calm and contained manner. Other places will have a similar setup, with all the releases at a table, but shoppers ask the store employees for the releases they want. It’s like a record nerd stock exchange. This process gets loud, slightly confusing and incredibly annoying — this is where elbows start getting thrown. Then, there are places that put the releases on the shelves, usually categorized by size — twelve inches with the twelve inches, seven inches with the seven inches and […]

    The post The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled

    The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, which was supposed to be making a triumphant return this year, has been canceled. A statement on the website says that the festival will be back in 2015. Back in November, Ford Field hosted an announcement party for DEMF, where it was revealed that a new DEMF festival would take place at Campus Martius Park in Detroit over the July 4th weekend. “I’m proud to be involved in the biggest and best electronic music festival in the world,” said Juan Atkins. “The future’s here. This is techno scene.” Not the immediate future, apparently. The DEMF people claim that the M-1 rail construction is partially to blame for the cancellation/12-month-postponement. Read the full statement here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards

    Despite a turbulent 2013 which saw Metro Times change owners, move buildings and change editors twice, we picked up eight awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Awards on Wednesday night. The big winner was Robert Nixon, design manager, who picked up a first place for “Feature Page Design (Class A)” for our Josh Malerman cover story, first for “Cover Design (Class A)” for our Halloween issue (alongside illustrator John Dunivant), and a second in that same category for our annual Lust issue. In the news categories, our esteemed former news editor and current contributing writer Curt Guyette won third in “General News Reporting” and third in “Best Consumer/Watchdog” – both Class A – for the Fairground Zero and Petcoke Series respectively. Music & Culture Editor Brett Callwood placed third for his Josh Malerman cover story in the “Best Personality Profile (Class A)” category, and former editor Bryan Gottlieb picked up a couple of Class C awards for “Editorial Writing” and “Headline Writing” (third and second, respectively). We were also pleased to learn that our investigative reporter Ryan Felton won first place and an honorable mention for work published while at the Oakland Press. The MT ship is steady now, […]

    The post Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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News Feature

Marching Toward Critical Mass

Are Americans ready to legalize marijuana?

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“Reform the draconian marijuana laws” has been a rallying cry of this newspaper since its inception, with groves felled and gallons of ink spent outlining a folly — at a plant with medicinal, psychosocial and economic benefits.

While it’s only taken 33 years (Metro Times’ first edition was published in 1980), it seems as if that cry has finally moved the argument to a Rubicon of change; when we cross it depends on those who can influence the debate. According to an April 2013 report by the Pew Research Center, for the first time in more than four decades of polling on the issue, a majority of Americans now favor legalizing the use of marijuana. The poll, which has garnered a lot of attention from the mainstream press because of its significance, says 52 percent of Americans now say marijuana should be legal.

For years, the prevailing view on weed has been a dismissive notion that it’s a recreational drug enjoyed by the unmotivated and, worse, it’s a gateway substance to “hard” drugs. Sadder still, a militarized approach toward its domestic eradication — including the incarceration of its users — has contributed to billions of dollars misspent and countless thousands of lives ruined by a hamstrung judiciary forced to impose mandatory minimum sentences.

The story arc of how America came to this point is as old as the country itself. From our most revered founder, George Washington, who chronicled his cultivation of hemp (the stem of the cannabis plant), to the inclusion of cannabis by early 20th century chemists in mixing medications, the story of America would be incomplete without including weed.

The first encroachment of government on the use and possession of marijuana began with the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act, which required the labeling of cannabis, and the amount contained, in over-the-counter remedies and food. Three decades later, Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act in response to growing fear around the drug — a fear brought to you by Hollywood and its propaganda-laden masterpiece, Reefer Madness. The Marijuana Tax Act effectively outlaws pot; save for those who pay an excise tax for certain authorized uses.

Thereafter, the assault on weed grew bold: In 1951 Congress passed the Boggs Act, which established mandatory prison sentences for possessing and distributing drugs, including marijuana. Five years later, President Dwight Eisenhower signed into law the Narcotics Control Act, which established a minimum sentence of two to 10 years for a first-offense conviction of marijuana possession, and a fine of as much as $20,000.

But the most egregious assault on weed, and one that held public opinion in stasis for decades still to come, stems from the plant’s classification as a Schedule I drug by the federal government under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. The Schedule I classification, which is the CSA’s most damning, states that “a drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse; the drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and; there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.” Other Schedule I drugs include heroin and the date-rape concoction GHB.

Sadly, there was a brief moment before anti-pot hysteria fully metastasized when things could have turned out differently. As part of the omnibus legislation that also created the CSA, Congress established what would be known as the Shafer Commission, which was charged with studying marijuana abuse in the United States. Named for its chairman, former Pennsylvania Gov. Raymond P. Shafer, the commission was doomed to failure because the executive branch had little tolerance for views that differed from those of its chief executive.

During the commission’s first report to Congress, Shafer, a moderate Republican, suggested the decriminalization of marijuana in small amounts, saying, in part:

“The criminal law is too harsh a tool to apply to personal possession even in the effort to discourage use. It implies an overwhelming indictment of the behavior, which we believe is not appropriate. The actual and potential harm of use of the drug is not great enough to justify intrusion by the criminal law into private behavior, a step [that] our society takes only with the greatest reluctance.”

You would be right to ask yourself, then, how domestic policy toward marijuana use went off the rails so precipitously, languishing as a sideline issue for more than two additional generations.

Conventional wisdom suggests you need not look further than the dickhead who signed the CSA into existence. While it was never a secret, the Nixon White House was less than enlightened — despite Nixon’s Sock-It-To-Me request from a young Goldie Hawn — and had the electorate known just what a shmuck Nixon really was, well … we know how that turned out in the end.

The Shafer Commission was a big ole hornswoggle and its findings ignored by a hostile White House. Nixon, by his own admission, had no intention of considering decriminalization of pot. He hated pot and the counterculture it became associated with:

“I had a press conference in California, which was not televised but I was asked about marijuana because a study is being made by a, group, [unintelligible] the government. Now, my position is flat-out on that. I am against legalizing marijuana. Now I’m against legalizing marijuana because, I know all the arguments about, well, marijuana is no worse than whiskey, or etc. etc. etc.

“But the point is, once you cross that line, from the straight society to the drug society — marijuana, then speed, then it’s LSD, then it’s heroin, etc. then you’re done,” said Nixon, arbiter of justice, during one of his secretly recorded Oval Office conversations; this one made in May 1971 with his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman and White House counsel, John Ehrlichman.

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