As of 2017, eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational use of cannabis. While Michigan is one of the 29 states with a medical cannabis program, there is no question that our state can improve when it comes to legislating drug policies.
We, as members of Students for Sensible Drug Policy at the University of Michigan, believe the most logical step to address public health and criminal justice concerns surrounding cannabis is to reconsider current legislation surrounding its recreational and medical uses.
Beginning in the early 1970s, the city of Ann Arbor has been home to one of the most progressive cannabis laws in the country. In contrast with the Nixon administration’s aggressive drug enforcement policy, Ann Arbor recognized the innocuous connotations associated with cannabis use. City Council reasoned that a cannabis infraction should be seen as no different than a parking violation.
Ann Arbor’s enforcement of cannabis violations has ebbed and flowed since first decriminalization. Decriminalization still remains the local law, while this does not affect state or federal jurisdiction. A recent article published in The Michigan Daily makes it clear that students at the University are overwhelmingly in favor of legalization. Students understand what is at stake in the struggle to rethink how society acts when it comes to drugs.
The incongruous enforcement of cannabis-related laws on local, state and national levels has effectively put cannabis users in a quagmire. For example, though recreational cannabis use is legal in Ann Arbor, medical marijuana patients cannot consume on University premises.
Since Michigan’s referendum on medical marijuana, passed in 2008, greater protections have been extended to cannabis users. However, there still remains a need for more reform.
The federal government still classifies cannabis as a Schedule I drug, and top Justice Department officials are openly hostile to any further legalization and choose to lock Americans up in prisons instead. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.,