Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Suit Threatened Over Proposal C

8. November 2004 • Murph
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An Ann Arbor medical marijuana user has filed complaints against Police Chief Oates and City Attorney Postema over their stance that Proposal C is invalid. The complainant, Mark Rowland, is also considering a class-action lawsuit against the city.

From the Michigan Daily, City could face suit over pot proposal:

Chuck Ream, who led the fight for the passage of Proposal C as chair of the Washtenaw Coalition for Compassionate Care, says the city is interpreting a 23-year-old Ypsilanti case too strictly in order to justify continuing prosecutions against marijuana users.

“(The city’s) premise is unsound when they say there is no ‘wiggle room’ under the Joslin case,” Ream said. For support, Ream points to language in the Ypsilanti case saying police can use “choice and discretion” when deciding whether to prosecute.

In this case, the police should chose to support the proposal, Ream said. He admitted that the Ypsilanti case means that the city does not have to follow the proposal, but he sees its overwhelming passage as a “mandate” from the citizens of Ann Arbor.

Both Ream and the City Attorney are referencing Joslin v. 14th District Judge, 76 Mich App 90 (1977) Beyond the court’s comment on a police officer’s “discretion” in that case, the concurring opinion states,

I concur in holding that the City of Ypsilanti cannot by ordinance prohibit the enforcement of state criminal statutes by city police officers. We leave intact, however, the remainder of the ordinance which in effect provides the Ypsilanti police with a choice in dealing with marijuana offenses. . .Encouragement should be given, however, to good faith efforts on the part of the city to reflect conditions existing in the local community as long as there is no direct conflict with statewide legislation.

The opinion would seem to indicate that, while the section of the ballot inititive forbidding the police from applying state law is indeed invalid, the rest of the ordinance is still good, and it is a matter of choice, not legality, on the part of the police to ignore the results of the initiative.