Detroit is divided over a proposal that would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, with supporters saying it would free up resources to deal with more significant crimes and opponents taking the position it would lead to more "lawlessness" in the city.
Proposal M, as it's known, is one of six initiatives facing voters on the Nov. 6 ballot in Michigan, according to the Detroit News
. If approved, it would allow people over 21 to possess less than an ounce of marijuana on their own property without being subject to prosecution.
Michigan voters approved the use of marijuana four years ago for medical purposes, but some parts of the law are still being challenged in court.
Proposal M appears to be just as controversial, despite arguments that the city can no longer afford to have police and court resources spent on prosecuting possession and use of small amounts of the drug.
"We don't believe that a person peacefully using marijuana should be treated as a criminal. Marijuana possession should not be a crime," Tim Beck, chairman of the Coalition for a Safer Detroit, told the News.
But opponents say relaxing the laws gives the appearance that Detroit, which has one of the highest crime rates in the country, is beginning to give into "a culture of acceptance about drug use in urban areas," as the News put it.
"We don't need Detroit to be any more lawless. The one thing we don't need is a higher Detroit," political analyst Steve Hood told the News.
Proposal M was supposed to be on the ballot in Michigan two years ago when enough valid signatures were collected. But a Detroit official, citing a conflict with existing laws on marijuana, refused to put the question to voters. A court ruled in favor of petition supporters earlier this year, ordering that the proposal be put on the ballot in November.
The question of whether to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana will also be put to voters in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington this year.
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