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July 11, 1973 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1973-07-11

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Summer Daily
Summer Edition of
Edited and managed by students at the
University of Michigan
Wednesday, July 11, 1973 News Phone: 764-0552
Pot action wrong
The Republican's repeal of the $5 marijuana law was
totally irresponsible and unjustified.
The Monday night City Council vote was split along
the usual party lines, with the Republicans voting for
repeal and the Democrats and Human Rights Party
(HRP) members opposing.
With the repeal of the local ordinance, control of
marijuana falls under the authority of the far more strict
state statute. Penalties for possession range up to $1000
and a year in jail while sale may be punished by four
years and $2000.
However, the legal penalties are of small significance
as the police department plans no change in enforce-
ment procedures.
Even Republican Mayor James Stephenson said: "If
young people want to smoke it, privately, that's their
own business." He sees repeal as a tool to assist the
police in "ridding the community of a social blight (dope
However, all three political parties agree that the
repeal will have a major effect on the city's image. Ac-
cording to the Republicans, Ann Arbor will no longer
"appear soft on drugs." According to the Democratic-
HRP minority, Ann Arbor will no longer be a center for
progressive change.
The Republicans have repeatedly stated that the $5I
pot law made Ann Arbor the "dope capital of the Mid-
west." But, what the Republicans fail to understand is
that even if this is true, then merely repealing the local
ordinance will not change that image. No legislative ac-
tion will change the fact that many people smoke dope
in this town.
From the premise that the lenient law gave the city
an "undesirable image," the Republicans draws the con-
clusion that this image attracts people who thrive in
the drug culture. But, it is the ambience of the city
itself, not just one law, that attracts the street people._
If, in fact, this nebulous "drug" group is responsible
for the rising crime rate, as asserted by the Republicans,
the repeal of the city marijuana law will do nothing to
stem that tide. Little violent crime is marijuana-related.
The only valid conclusion, and the one the Republi-
cans fail to accept is that the city marijuana law should
be a model for legislative reform that will set an example
for legislative bodies at all levels. Ann Arbor was an ex-
amplar of enlightened reform of victimless crime but now
has again settled into regressive oblivion.
Stephenson has also argued that the state laws are
adequate because they are "harsh on the pusher" but
sufficiently lenient on the user. But the arguments for
the $5 law are the same as for total legalization. Any-
thing less than total legalization is insufficient.
The most fallacious argument was presented by Coun-
cil member William Colburn (R-Third Ward) who ar-
gued that the law should be repealed because action mere-
ly at the city level allows no taxation, no quality control
and no age control. But, the same is even more true at
the state level. As long as the use of marijuana is illegal
it will remain underground and uncontrolled. At least,
with the $5 penalty the city is on record as being as close
to legalization (and perhaps control) as is legally pos-
The action by the Republicans was based on false
premises and a failure to come to grips with the facts of
marijuana use. As long as the city as well as the country
as a whole is in the hands of politicians such as our local
Republicans, progressive reform will remain at a stand-
... aiupirs are to

T HE atmosphere of Monday night's City Council meet-
ing was more reminiscent of the Soupy Sales' pie-in-
the-eye days than the decorum normally associated with
legislative bodies.
The tactics of the demonstrators, while righteous in
cause, were, in fact, overzealous. Disrupting the meeting
did nothing to defeat the Republican repeal effort.
THE demonstrators should have directed their cam-
paign to produce a better student turnout last April.
The marijuana ordinance was not repealed Monday night
but rather in the Republican sweep- last spring. Better
that their energies be expended during elections than
futile disruptive efforts.

De onstrators disrupt
By GORDON ATCHESON DURING the vote each Republican "yes" was
FVE RYBODYknew there would be trouble. met with tumultuous cries of "fuck you" and
porcine grunts.

Forboding hung in the air along with thick,
pungent clouds of marijuana smoke.
The long-haired freaks, Rainbow People, and
high school kids began to drift into the City
Council chambers as the meeting was coming to
By the time repeal of the marijuana law
came to a vote the chambers were packed with
young people, who all loved their dope and for
the moment passionately hated the Republicans.
DEBATE over repeal didn't slowly rise to a
dramatic crescendo. It started at once. Council
member Jerry DeGrieck HIIRP-First Ward) open-
ed the attack on the Republicans and received
a standing ovation.
"The Republicans have used intimidation,
threats, delays, timing and the police in order
to diffuse the political effect of their vote. It
won't work. The symbolic nature of their action
will not be lost in the heat of the summer, and
will be remembered long past the election next
The crowd rose in unison. They screamed their
Mayor James Stephenson frowned noticeably.
He pounded his gavel and asked for order.
The cheering continued.
"Stephenson and his six lackeys think they
paternalistically know what is better for us than
we do."
_THE CHEERS became deafening as Stephen-
son gave up rapping his symbol of authority. He
knew he couldn't control the meeting nor could
anyone else.
A middle-aged woman wearing a "legalize pros-
titution" button jumped up and pointed at the
Republicans. "What will you do when its your
sons and daughters who are busted," she shouted,
like a Southern Baptist preacher laying the fire
and brimstone rap on a trembling congregation.
WELCOME to the greatest show on earth -a
The Repuiblicans asked for reason and rational
thinking playing to their white-collar constituents.
Humans and Dems moved to cement ties with
the rads. The crowd fed off one another and the
TV cameras.
They all wanted the center ring.
A joint or two appeared. Then a few more.
Within minutes the air smelled like Saturday
night in Aud. A during a Marx brothers flick.
One guy with a scraggly beard, hair to the
middle of his back, and an Acapulco Gold Tshirt
leaned over Councilmember Lloyd Fairbank's
shoulder. He took a deep toke on a joint and
exhaled into the surprised Fairbanks' face.
TWO CITY policemen looked on without a
trace of emotion - no busts here.
Stephenson set his jaw, stared icely at the
antagonists from behind his gold wire rim glasses
and began to explain why repealling the five
dollar dope law is the "first step in restoring a
decent image to our city."
He didn't get past the first sentence before
the audience drowned his voice in hoots, boos,
and obscenities. He finally gave up competing
against the discordant symphony and grimly
resigned himself to slogging ahead despite the

. Suddenly a brown sphere flew past Stephenson
and crashed against the wall.
A second pie splattered on the council table
in front of the mayor as several cherries grazed
his blue and white stripped suit. The crowd closed
in on the table furiously chanting "smoke that
dope, smoke that dope."
Shaken, Stephenson quickly called a recess and
retreated to the council workroom accompanied
by most of the other council members.

"To se, this is aii outrageous, reactionary action
that ignores the Practical, factual harmlessness of
iarijuana ihen consplared with alcohol."
EVEN in that sanctuary he found no peace.
The fourth estate thrust microphones and cam-
eras in his face and asked "Why?"
A stereotype Stephenson-supporter barged into
the room dragging his wife by the hand, shak-
ing with rage and indignation.
"Those kids are smoking marijuana out there
and the police do nothing! How come you let
this go on! We payed our taxes! I'm not going
to vote for you again! Just what are you going
to do?"
Stephenson m-mubled something about "We're
doing what's best . . ."
As the mayor confronted his farmer ally, the
demonstrators in the ciiuncil chamber danced
on the table and chanted to their hearts' con-
tent. But the energy began to ebb and the dope
wore off. The people slowly drifted out the same
way they came in.
'THERE WAS trouble. No real danger. Just
a surrealistic Ann Arbor phenomena.

Gordon Atcheson is a Daily night editor.

The cheers became deafening as Stephenson g a v e up rapping his
symbol of authority. He knew he couldn't control the meeting nor could
anyone else.

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