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March 18, 1983 - Image 15

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The Michigan Daily, 1983-03-18
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from 1
The law has become a symbol of an
age revered by many students. But
beneath politics and legend stands a
law that is neither curse nor blessing -
a law that has had surprisingly little
impact on Ann Arbor.
For the first time since 1974, the law
will be an election issue this year:
Voters will decide April 4 whether or
not they want the amendment repealed.
It's reemergence on the political scene
has awakened memories of past con-
flicts over the law.
Although popular notions suggest
that University students were the in-
spiration for the liberal law. founders of
the ordinance say students had
little to do with its genesis.
Robert Faber, a Democratic city
councilman from 1969 to 1973, says the
original ordinance was proposed not
because of student or political pressure,
but was instead a matter of community
"I guess Democrats voted in favor of
the law. but it was an attitudinal thing;
it wasn't really a party issue at that
point," he says.
"There were terrible problems with
drug usage and enforcement, and it was
getting more severe," Faber says. "I
had heard of something like this
elsewhere, and I thought it was a won-
derful idea to reduce the penalty for use
of marijuana."
By decriminalizing pot, Faber says he
and others intended to eliminate at
least the legal tie which connected pot
with harder drugs - especially LSD
and heroin - and to eliminate what he
saw as a disproportionate relationship
between marijuana use and its punish-
ment, then a maximum sentence of 20
years to life in prison.
"The thing that prompted me to vote
for decriminalization - I'm hardly an
advocate of marijuana use - was that
the relationship between the punish-
ment and the crime was vastly
"But more importantly, we had an
awful lot of drug problems in the com--
munity - both marijuana and hard
drugs, like heroin-and we had the
whole thing under a single umbrella of
enforcement. The result of this was, on
the part of the kids, that they were
presented with what they perceived to
be drugs that were all alike. So they
tried one, and despite all the hoopla, it
wasnt't all that bad. So it's an easy
transition from that to whatever else.
"Also, the enforcement for both was
the same. Though marijuana is a
relatively benign drug, the kids who
were using it, dealing it, buying it, were
suddenly involved with the same people
who were involved with hard drugs.
That was dangerous. What I, and other-
s, were trying to do more than anything
was seperate the two."
Faber's. comments are echoed by
Robert Harris and Jerry Lax, the
mayor and the city attorney from 1969
to 1973. Before adopting the $5 ordinan-
ce in 1972, Ann Arbor operated under
state law on all marijuana arrests.
"The state was vicious," Harris says.
"They were vicious on the felony level
and on the misdemeanor level. It was
vicious up and down the road. It was
breathtaking what the state had on the
Harris says some council members
suggested no penalty for use of
marijuana, but the city couldn't repeal

......: ................:......... . .. . . .......... ....... ..t.:::"::. .::. . ..}:"?. .}-:':::.. :::::::"::.*..* "":r: r j<:t*;*;i* i*.Fv i}:4 {4':4"i. {....
Dangerously, is a stylish tale of kindled love amidst Family Restaura
Up in smoke Page 1 political upheaval starring Sigourney Weaver and
Rolling a joint in Ann Arbor may be more incon- Mel Gibson. With everything from a
venient if voters approve a stiffer law in April. palaw, this eastern-style r

Despite warnings that the issue would divide the
community and awaken the sleeping student vote, it
seems to have done neither. Cover photo by Deborah

interesting again. Take the

Flute frolics

Page 4

Walking the lines Page 6
They bring "power pop" and a welcome freshness
to the Ann Arbor bar circuit. They are The Fine
Lines, a four-piece band walking the tightrope bet-
ween boppin' and shakin'.

Nick the blythe

From Vivaldi to Irish gigs, flutist James Galway
knows how to have fun-and how to give it. His Hill
Auditorium performance tonight is followed by the
debut concert by a brash new Ann Arbor ensemble,
Mostly Brass.


Nick Lowe's latest al
Showman, another stab at
hot and cold. Also revieN
Report's new release, a
becoming a jazz standard.
Ann Arbor video
Everybody on set! The
the Small Town Diner r
Michigan Video Writers a
first video movie goes into
tion. This week's feature vi

Pages 7-10

Romance and intrigue

Page 5

Your guide to fun times for the coming week in Ann
Arbor. Film capsules, music previews, theater notes,
and bar dates, all listed in a handy-dandy, day-by-day
schedule. Plus a roster of local restaurants.

state law. "We could undercut it,
though, and that's what we did."
The $5 ordinance was proposed by
Human Rights Party (HRP) council
members Jerry DeGrieck and Nancy
Wechsler. HRP was a radical political
party composed primarily of students.
They held two council seats until the
1976 elections. At the city council
meeting of May 15, 1972, the council's
four democrats joined the HRP mem-
bers in voting for the $5 ordinance. It
passed 6-5.
"We passed the HRP law," Faber
says, "but Democrats on council had
started working towards
decriminalization months earlier." In
December, 1971, Faber proposed to the
democratic caucus an $11 fine for sale
or use of marijuana. The proposal was
scrapped, Faber says, because it was
too close to election time and the party
didn't want to make an issue out of pot
What the democrats didn't count on
was the strength of the student vote. In
the 1972 city elections, the normally
Democratic students turned out
strongly in favor of the HRP can-
didates, and the Democrats lost two
council seats.
In 1973, political control shifted, and a
Republican majority on council
repealed the ordinance and the city
returned to state law.
Residents of Ann Arbor held a petition
drive to put the $5 law on the 1974 ballot.
Again students turned out in force and
pushed the law through-this time as
an amendment to the city's charter. With
approximately 33,000 ballots cast on the
pot law proposal, it passed by a 600-vote
Because it became an amendment to
the city's charter, the law could no
longer be repealed by council
vote-only by city-wide referendum.
The city operates under that 1974
amendment today. It provides a $5 fine
for sale and use of marijuana, though
for possession and sale of large quan-
tities, police have the option of
prosecuting under the stricter state

This April, voters will again be asked
to decide whether or not they want the
Should the repeal effort succeed, city
council has passed a back-up law that
provides for a $25 fine for use; a fine of
up to $50 for sale of less than one ounce;
and a fine of up to $500 and imprison-
ment for up to 90 days for sale of more
than one ounce. The ordinance will only
take effect if residents vote to repeal
the existing charter amendment.
Without the back-up ordinance, the
city would automatically be subject to
state law, which has maximum
penalties of 90 days imprisonment
and/or a $100 fine for use; 1-year im-
prisonment and/or a $1,000 fine for
possession; and 4 years imprisonment
and/or a $2,000 fine for distribution,
regardless of amount.
Ann Arbor District Court Judges
Sandy Elden and Pieter Thomassen
have said they will issue deferred sen-
tences for most violations. This in-
volves postponing sentencing for an ar-
bitrary period of time, during which the
defendent may have to participate in a
drug education program, and ex-
punging the record afterwards.
REPUBLICAN councilmembers,
who carried the measure through
with their 7-4 majority at a recent coun-
cil meeting, say it is intended to prevent
reverting to state law if the repeal ef-
fort is successful. "We just wanted
something on the books in case the
repeal succeeds, to avoid going to state
law," says councilman James Blow (R-
2id Ward).
Democrats, however, say the
Republicans are offering the relatively
mild alternative in order to attract
voters opposed to harsh penalties to the
repeal effort.
If the repeal passes, the council will
have control, over the law, and any -
majority can make the ordinance as
strict or lenient as they choose in future
"It's pretty clear what the
Republicans are up to," says coun-
cilman Lowell Peterson (D-1st Ward).

"It's just another one of their smoke
screens. Once they get the amendment
repealed, they can make the ordinance
as stiff as they want, even stiffer than
state law."
The new ordinance does have one
loophole: If a judge orders deferred
sentencing and a defendent's record is
destroyed, there can be no repeat of-
fenders. Council must vote to correct
the error at some time, Peterson says,
which will offer the Republicans an op-
portunity to make the ordinance stiffer.
"If the public believes they are
buying the recently passed ordinance,
they're clearly mistaken," he says.
"There has to be a new ordinance."
State Rep. Perry Bullard (D-Ann Ar-
bor) calls the repeal "a revival of
primitive fundamentalism."
"Jerry Falwell is making millions off
TV Bible thumping, and our version
here in Ann Arbor is Mayor Louis
Belcher. He wants to return to the days
when everyone smiled, saluted the flag,
and said 'yes sir' to police officers. It's
political fundamentalism, and what
bothers me is the Republicans are con-
cealing their underlying political
Councilwoman Leslie Morris (D-2nd
Ward), who is running for mayor against
Belcher in April, also sees the proposal
as politically motivated.
"(The ordinance) is an attempt to
make people believe that harsh
penalties will not result from the
repeal," she says.
Peterson agrees: "The conservatives
are trying to show that the symbolic
vestiges of the past can be thrown out -
even the pot law. It amounts to muscle
flexing by the right wing. They're
trying to show that this town is run by
the right."
"It's an attempt to get the law back in
political hands, and I hardly think this
will be the last time," Morris says.
"Before the law was a charter amen-
dment, whenever the council majority
changed the law changed. It was a
political football, and people were tired
of all the time devoted to it.

Director Peter Weir's (Picnic At Hanging Rock,
Gallipoli) latest film,The Year of Living

Weekend Weekend is edited and managed by students on the Weekend, (313) 763-0
Frday, March 1.18
F 1r Isrce18, 1983 staff of The Michigan Daily at 420 Maynard, Ann Ar- Daily, 764-0552; Circulati
Magazine Editor ......................... Ben Ticho bor, Michigan, 48109. It appears in the Friday edition tising, 764-0554.
Associate Editors ...................... Larry Dean of the Daily every week during the University year
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14 Weekend/March 18, 1983

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