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November 03, 2005 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-11-03

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It was clearly just a publicity
stunt, to say that they arrest-
ed 22 (students) and to claim
that it was this giant ring.
- "Tim"
University student arrested in
April for possession of marijuana with intent
to deliver and maintaining a drug house.

Continued from page 9B
the ticket was paid, and no trace of
the offense remained on a criminal
In the city election in April 1990,
Proposal B, which recommended a
change to the proposal from 1974,
was passed. Under this new legisla-
tion, marijuana use was considered
a civil infraction with a fine of $25
.for the first offense, $50 for the sec-
ond and no less than $100 for the
third and subsequent offenses. This
proposal also included a clause that
waived the penalty if the suspect
agreed to attend a substance-abuse
When the legislation passed, the
governor's office and the office of the
attorney general issued statements
jdisapproving the proposal. Both
offices stated that the proposal was
contrary to the policy of the state,
where marijuana was not effectively
decriminalized. This response was
a clear indication of the divide in
ideology between the state and city
governments. The city did not repeal
the approved proposal, despite the
criticism from the state government.
A similar situation occurred this
past year, when last November the
City of Ann Arbor passed Proposal
C, legislation that legalized medici-
nal marijuana within the city. Sev-
renty-four percent of voters came out
in favor of the proposal. The legisla-
tion seemed to clash with the state
policy, which prohibits the use, sale
or distribution of marijuana. But this
time, Oates sided with the state.
In a statement issued two days after
the election, Oates said the AAPD
would continue to arrest marijuana
users and dealers - even those who
fuse the drug to treat a medical con-
dition - in spite of Proposal C.
LSA senior Josh Soper is the
director of the University's chapters
of Students for Sensible Drug Poli-
cy and the National Organization
for the Reform of Marijuana Laws,
two organizations that advocate
for changes in drug policy. He said
the investigation of the 22 Univer-
sity students last April was another
example of the authorities ignoring
the views of Ann Arbor residents
'toward marijuana. "It's pretty clear

that our community doesn't think of
marijuana offenses as prosecutable,"
he said.
Soper said some of this progres-
sive attitude is a result of the student
activism regarding marijuana policy
on campus in the 1970s.
But Lt. Seto said marijuana use is
a problem in the city, and the police
decide whether to follow state law
or city law based on circumstance.
"Police officers don't decide what
the laws are. We enforce them," he
Michigan law states that marijuana
use is a misdemeanor with a fine of
$1,000 and up to 90 days in jail. Pos-
session is also a misdemeanor with
a $2,000 fine and up to one year in
jail. Distribution without compensa-
tion holds the same penalties as pos-
session. The felony charges consist
of cultivation and sale, and the fines
for these two offenses are $20,000
and up to four years in jail. Accord-
ing to Burnside, maintaining a drug
house nets a $25,000 fine with up to
two years in jail.
The effects

A crowd fills the Diag for the
April 2002.

31st Annual Hash Bash celebration encouraging the legalization of marijuana in


as this investigation
accomplished all that
the authorities hoped it
would? With a signifi-
cant amount of mari-
juana confiscated and
the announced elimi-

nation of a "cadre of students," it is
not unreasonable to hope the inves-
tigation has helped to combat mari-
juana abuse. But Burnside said there
haven't been any changes in the
numbers of drug offenses in the city.
He also said the prices for marijuana
have stayed consistent, implying that
the supply has not decreased signifi-
cantly. "There's still a drug problem.
I don't think we've taken the head off
the monster of this group," he said.
Mirken said this case is a micro-
cosm for the bigger picture of drug
law enforcement in the nation. He
said arrests do little to combat the
historically high levels of marijuana
use, citing the 35 million marijuana
plants confiscated in the past year in
the United States and the remaining
availability of the drug.
"Marijuana is an easy plant to
grow," Mirken said. "You take out
one dealer and another takes his

place because there's so much money
to be made."
The suspects all agreed and added
that none of their friends have
stopped smoking as a result of this
Mirken also said college towns are
particularly difficult areas for mari-
juana law enforcement. "You have a
somewhat transient population and
an age group amongst whom the use
of marijuana is the heaviest," he said.
"If cops are intent on chasing mari-
juana users they have a lot of targets
but consistently moving targets."
Tim agreed, saying this year's
freshmen aren't even aware of last
April's investigation. "They come in
with this notion of Ann Arbor, and
they don't worry about it. It's a los-
ing battle," he said.
University efforts

the effects of these substances. The
pages on alcohol and tobacco contain
a variety of information on the risks,
along with information on counsel-
ing services designed specifically
for substance abuse. The marijuana
page only contains seven short state-
ments on the effects of marijuana on
users. Under the laws, policies and
enforcement section of the website,
there is no mention at all of laws
regarding marijuana use.
"We don't have any formal edu-
cational efforts about marijuana.
We do have materials and certainly
help students out if they ask us for
information. Alcohol is by far the
most extensively used drug by stu-
dents, and the drug that we see the
most harm to students who use and
other students who don't use," said
Patrice Flax, the coordinator for the
While Flax's point is a good one,
it seems strange that a University in
a city with a reputation of vast mari-
juana use does not have someone
providing materials on the drug.
Students for Sensible Drug Policy
are one active voice on the subject.
Along with the annual Hash Bash,
the organization also aims to raise
awareness of attacks on civil lib-
erties in the enforcement of drug
laws. They hold showings of the

film "Busted: The Citizen's Guide
to Surviving Police Encounters,"
which outlines a suspect's rights in
a number of different cases involv-
ing drug law. The showings are often
followed by a question-and-answer
period with a lawyer.
Soper highlighted the importance
of knowing your own rights. "The
idea behind the event is that in a
huge number of cases where people
are arrested for a drug crime, they
waive their Fourth Amendment
rights," he said, referring to the
guarantee of security against unrea-
sonable searches and seizures.

All three

he news of the investiga-
tion dissipated in a few
days. Court dates were
attended, sentences given.
Though some suspects still
await their trials, the dam-
age has mostly been done.
suspects expressed their


he University does
not seem to put much
effort into encourag-
ing students to abstain
from marijuana use.
The UM Alcohol and
other Drug Preven-

resentment toward the press coverage-
brought about by the police. Tim said he
worries about future employers finding
articles about the investigation on the
"It was clearly just a publicity stunt, to
say that they arrested 22 (students) and to
claim that it was this giant ring," he said.
The police are "acting like they're saving
Ann Arbor from the evils of the world."

tion Program at University Health
Services has a website dedicated to
providing students with resources on

12B -The Michigan Daily -

Thursday, November 3, 2005

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