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August 19, 1972 - Image 4

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1972-08-19

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Edited and managed by students at the
Universityof Michigan
Editorials printed in The Michigan Daily express the individdal
opinions of the author. This must be noted in all reprints.
SATURDAY, AUG. 19, 1972 News Phone: 764-0552

The $5 pot penalty:
Grass isn 't legal yet

candidates need
more publie exposure
ONCE HERALDED as the emergence of a true "open"
political party, the Human Rights Party is now pre-
paring to nominate candidates in such a manner as to
limit the influence of all except those who are party
"regulars."
This weekend, HRP is holding its "open county nomi-
nating convention." At this meeting, upwards of one
dozen persons will declare themselves candidates for
various HRP nominations.
These candidates will only be well-known to a small
group of devoted HRP workers. To the others, the emer-
gence of these persons as candidates will be a complete
surprise. They will have little if any knowledge about
any of the candidates, and can hardly be expected to cast
an informed ballot.
This system of choosing candidates has resulted
largely from HRP's fear that it will be infiltrated by
Democrats and Republicans. It is for this reason that
HRP has rejected primary elections as a means of nomi-
nating candidates. They believe, and rightly so, that
their ticket could be determined by "crossover votes"
from Republicans and Democrats. And even if the party
wanted to turn to a primary system, it would be impos-
sible at this time, because of restrictions on minor party
primaries written into state law.
It is that same fear of outside domination that made
HRP decide that all those who want to vote at their con-
vention should sign a statement affirming that they be-
lieve themselves to be members of HRP. While this type
of oath may seem to be inconsistent with the party's
ideals, it is certainly an understandable and necessary
evil at this time.
PUT BETTER ARRANGEMENTS could have been made
to introduce the potential nominees to those'out of
the mainstream of HRP.
As the situation stands now, most HRP regulars have
a fairly clear concention of who among them plans to
run for which offices. Yet this has largely remained
privileged information within the party office. No public
announ-rsent of the candidates will be made until
Sunday afternoon, after the party's platform has been
finalized.
At this time, the convention will interview the po-
tential candidates, and then the convention will be re-
cessed until Thursday when the actual nominations will
take place.
This Sunday mass interview plan is neither a suf-
ficient nor a desirable way in which to have a serious
and open community debate on candidates.
While The Daily has consistently supported HRP
candidates, we would like to know more about each as-
piring nominee before the convention begins. Perhaps
next year HRP can schedule a campaign period in which
party supporters could meet and question potential can-
didates prior to the start of the harried convention.
N PREVIOUS YEARS, we could excuse HRP's cliqueish
nominating procedures as being the inevitable re-
sult of starting a political organization on a grass-roots
level. But the party has grown. It has two elected mem-
bers on City Council and has the potential to elect two
county commissioners, a state representative, several
more Council members and perhaps other posts this
year.
' With this added political power, comes added respon-
sibility. If HRP is to become a dominant political force in
this town, it must constantly strive to live up to its own
stated goal of being a more open, responsive institution.
-THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Editorial Staff
Today's Staff:
News: Lorin Labardee, Carla Rapoport, Gloria Jane Smith
Editorial Page: Alan Lenhoff
Photo technician: Denny Gainer
Summer Staff
EDITORIAL STAFF
Dan Biddle, Jan Benedetti, Meryl Gordon, Jim Kentch, Lorin
Labardee, Alan Lenhoff (co-editor), Diane Levick, Maynard, Chris
Parks, Carla Rapoport (co-editor) Marilyn Riley, Gloria Smith,
Paul Travis, Ralph Vartabedian.
PHOTOGRAPHY STAFF
Denny Gainer, Rolfe Tessem, Gary Villani, Jim Wallace.
SPORTS STAFF
Bob Andrews, Dan Borus, Elliot Legow.

By PAUL TRAVIS
I T WAS LIKE a government
scare movie,Kor perhaps like the
stories your mother told you wen
you were a little kid.
He stood there, under a street-
light at the corner of State and
Hill, whispering to all long-hairs
who passed by. "Wanna buy
some Jamaican weed?"
But there was one small differ-
ence in the script. One of the
passers-by stopped to try the dope,
and asked the tall thin man with
green knapsack if he wasn't afraid
of getting busted.
"Getting busted?" he laughed as
he rolled a joint. "What differ-
ence does it make? It's only a five
dollar fine."
IT'S ONLY A FIVE DOLLAR
FINE !
Since City Council passed the
five dollar marijuana ordinance,
that has been the response of dope
smokers and sellers all across the
city - whether they are walking
down the street smoking a joint,
or sitti ng onthe steps of the Un-
ion selling hash.
But it is not clear whether it is
ONLY A FIVE DOLLAR FINE, or
whether you can be put on proba-
tion for a year or two if you plead
guilty to possession of grass.
The city attorney and, the sst.
city attorey disagree and admit
they really don't know. Judge
Pieter Thomassen thinks he can
put people on probation under the
city law. And if you violate the
terms of probation a judge can
send you to jail.

The cop took the plants and
asked Robertson who they belong-
ed to. Robertson told the cop they
belonged to him because "there
was no reason to get the whole
house busted," he said yesterday.
The cop took his name and told
him he would be contacted later.

ON WEDNESDAY, the day aft-
er Robertson pled guilty, Daily
reporters were on the phone try-
ing to find out why the State
wouldn't test Ann Arbor mari-
juana. They found out that State
was testing grass from here and
had never delayed on any of the
samples.
"The policy (of the lab) has
been that any case that comes in
is processed," said Sergeant
Thomas Nasser of the Plymouth
Crime Lab.
City officials were hard pressed'
to explain why they had said the
samples were being held up. Asst.
City Atty. Robert Guenzel main-
tained that his misinformation had
come from a police detective. Oth-
er city officials had similar ex-
cuses. But the facts stood for
themselves. At least ten mariju-
ana samples from Ann Arbor had
been processed by the State Po-
lice with no special delay.
In calling the State Police in
Lansing it became clear that up
until that time, there had been no
policy of delay but that samples
from Ann Arbor were being clas-
sified as "Low Priority."
"It doesn't seem proper that
we put a high priority on a city
ordinance that has a fine of five
dollars," said State Police Direc-
tor John Plants Wednesday. "That
kind of analysis would be done if
we had nothing more urgent."
IT WAS ALSO CLEAR that
Plants didn't like the new law.
He thinks it is unconstitutional and
worse yet - that it will make Ann
Arbor a state-wide distribution
center for marijuana. Plants is
new to his job and doesn't realize
yet that Ann Arbor has always
been the state distribution center
for marijuana. At least for the
last. ten years.
Plants indicated that "We (the
state police) won't allow Ann Ar-
bor to become a sanctuary" and
implied that the State Police may
ride into town and arrest all the
dirty hippies who lay around all
day and smoke and sell dope on
the streets of this fair city.
"If we thought the Ann Arbor
Police Department was ineffec-
tual because of the ordinance we
would move in without consutting
them," Plants said.
He suggested that the city
should bust people under the
harsher state law in order to get
higher priority in the lab.

Under State Law, possession of
grass is still a misdemeanor but
the penalties are much harsher
than a five dollar fine. Jerold Lax,
the city attorney, is the person
who makes the determination of
whether a -person is prosecuted
under the state or city law.
There are not clear guidelines
for what qualifies as a case for the
state law and which will be han-
dled under the city law. At the
present time Lax is making the
determination by the amount of
drugs confiscated.
BUT THE REAL QUESTION at
this time is what will happen to
Robertson when he comes up for
sentencing on Sept. 15.
The city attorney and Robert-
son's lawyer were both surprised
when Judge Thomassen did_ not
allow Robertson to pay his five
dollar fine and walk out. Thomas-
sen postponed sentencing one
month and ordered Robertson to
talk to a probation officer prior
to sentencing.
This was a real shock. Most peo-
ple in the city had thought that
the marijuana fines would be han-
dled just like a parking ticket.
You get busted. You come into
court. You plead guilty. You pay
your five dollar fine. You walk
out. Beautiful.
Such is not the case. Thomas-
sen says he really doesn't know
what he is going to do when the
sentencing comes up in Septem-
ber. He says he has to talk to the
probation officer and work out a
consistent policy with the other
District Court Judge, Sandorf El-
den.
But-and it's a big but-Thom-
assen thinks he has the power to
put somebody on probation along
with imposing the fine.
Lax isn't so. sure. "I was under
the impression, perhaps the naive
impression, that probation could
only be given if the sentence in-
volved a jail sentence. But I'm not
sure."
NOBODY IS SURE, and the
point may remain in doubt until
it is challenged in court.
The thing to keep in mind is
that if you violate the terms of
your probation you can be sent
to jail.
At the present time it is clear
that the new law is not operating
as was expected when it was
passed in April. And it should be
pointed out that the law has a
lot of enemies in high places. The
State Police hate it. The city po-
lice like it just about as much.
The Republicans and other right-
of-center groups would like noth-
ing better than to find a way to
kill it.
And if there is a way, they will
probably find it.

That's right. Maybe, just may-
be, you can end up in jail if you
are caught in this town with a
joint. But nobody really knows
for sure.
ON TUESDAY, a Daily reporter
talked to several city officials and
was given the impression that the
State Police Crime Lab was de-
laying the analysis of suspected
marijuana samples from Ann Ar-
bor because of the low fine.
The implication of this was that
the first six authorizations for
marijuana prosecutions under the
new law, which had been-request-
ed by the city attorney, were in
limbo because the samples were
not being tested.
Also on Tuesday, William Rob-
ertsonappeared in District Court
and had the honor of becoming
the first person to plead guilty un-
der the city marijuana ordinance.
Ie is awaiting sentencing.
Robertsonwas sitting on his
front porch June 6, when an Ann
Arbor cop walked by and noticed
four or five tiny six-inch pot plants
growing in milk cartons in the
front yard.

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