Court rulings encourage medical marijuana users, balk prosecutors
Published: June 13, 2012
There is no active campaign for this initiative and not much money, but activists expect this will win at the polls. But there are a couple of points they might consider. One is that the African-American community can be more conservative on social issues than the community at large. A recent Rasmussen poll found that 56 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana and regulating it in a manner similar to alcohol. However, that same poll found that African-Americans favored the idea by a slimmer 53 percent. Detroit's population is 90 percent black, so these numbers are pertinent. The margin of error is small and Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee has already come out against legalization, saying that even if the city code change passes, his department may continue to enforce state and federal laws prohibiting marijuana.
The other caution here is the current hysteria about K2, also known as spice. The controversial but legal (for the moment) substance has been implicated in a couple of recent teen deaths. As the alarm over K2 grows, I wonder if there will be spillover regarding marijuana itself.
K2 is being described as synthetic marijuana, although it has nothing to do with marijuana. It is a chemical formulation that is sprayed on herbs. And marijuana activists should be clear, as they have been, that marijuana and K2 have nothing in common. There has never been a death attributed to a marijuana overdose. The warning we should get from K2 is that chemicals aimed to mimic certain effects of marijuana fall far short of what the whole and natural plant does. You can't fool Mother Nature.
It's always a shot in the arm when prominent politicians jump on the legalize-it bandwagon. The latest to do so publicly is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo recently called on the New York Legislature to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana that are in public view in order to avoid unnecessary charges against "disproportionately black and Hispanic youth," according to a statement from his office. The stop-and-frisk policy of New York police is famous across the nation for driving hundreds of thousands of arrests for small amounts of marijuana. A commentary from NORML executive director Allen St. Pierre attributes the policy change to a planned Cuomo run for the White House in 2016 and the prospective candidate's maneuvering to get out front on the issue.
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