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Don't bogart that vote



Supporters of an initiative that would let Detroit’s medical marijuana users fire up without much worry of arrest are headed for court — and, no, they didn’t get busted for inhaling.

The legal proceedings were prompted by the Detroit Law Department and City Clerk Jackie Currie, who say that, among other things, the measure illegally mucks with the city’s budget process. According to the City Charter, initiative “powers do not extend to the budget …”

But even the Law Department admits that any initiative will affect the city’s budget to some extent. It is, says assistant corporation counsel Mike Karwoski, a matter of degree.

“Every ordinance has at least some small impact,” he tells News Hits. “But if it is substantial, it falls into the prohibitive category.”

There’s no doubt the proposal — which attracted more than enough signatures to make it onto the ballot — involves budget issues. It says so explicitly: “Through the budgetary process, the City Council and other city officials shall seek to assure that the Detroit Police Department and the City of Detroit Law Department assign the lowest possible priority to the enforcement and prosecution of marijuana laws, when the violation is based upon medical use …”

How substantial an impact is that? The legal and financial brains here at News Hits have concluded the main expense is a token one, involving the police chief issuing an order that says “don’t arrest any potheads who can prove they’ve got a doc’s OK.” According to our analysis, that should cost the city about a buck and a half.

“It is clear that they positively searched for reasons to try to keep the measure off the ballot rather than giving it fair and good-faith consideration,” attorney Rudy Serra, who represents the Coalition for Compassionate Care, wrote to Currie last month. But she was unmoved, and ordered that the initiative be barred from the ballot.

So now the compassionate carers are headed to court. They held a fundraiser Saturday, with more than 100 people paying $35 each to support the cause, according to Tim Beck, the main man behind the movement. That means the money is there to fight on. Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Timothy M. Kenny is scheduled to hear arguments from both sides at 9 a.m. on Friday, May 10. Glaucoma patients are advised by News Hits to leave their medicine at home.

Curt Guyette is Metro Times news editor. Contact him at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]

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