Traverse City Voters To Weigh in on Measure 

Traverse City Voters To Weigh in on Measure 
Posted by CN Staff on November 03, 2005 at 13:14:38 PT
By Vanessa McCray, Record-Eagle Staff Writer
Source: Record-Eagle 
Traverse City, Michigan -- Laura Barber is teary-eyed and emphatic. She's talking about why she wants Traverse City voters to support a proposal to make medical marijuana use a low priority for law enforcement. Barber speaks about her husband, Matthew, a multiple sclerosis patient who was arrested last year for marijuana possession. Barber recounts his decision to fight the charges.
"If we shut up and go away... what about the person who doesn't have somebody to fight," Laura recalls her husband saying.   The Barbers were swept up in a battle and it's carried Laura here - to a local restaurant where she and others from her Coalition for Compassionate Care are discussing reasons to support their ballot proposal on Tuesday.   The proposed ordinance calls for the possession, delivery or use of marijuana by a medical patient to be the "lowest law enforcement priority of the city."    But some who oppose the ordinance say its meaning is murky. City commissioner Rick Csapo acknowledged the emotional heft of the argument but said city policy isn't the proper place to push the fight.   "I think it should be addressed on the state or even on the federal level," he said. "A small town like Traverse City, Michigan, tackling this issue is not effective."   Csapo, who is running for re-election, and commissioner Ralph Soffredine voted against putting the citizen-driven petition for the ordinance up for a vote. Both have prior careers in law enforcement.   Traverse City police chief Michael Warren, too, has misgivings. He opposes it, saying he doesn't know what it would mean for his department if passed.   "Legally, our ordinances or local laws can't be less strict than those established at the state level," he said.   Should a police officer spot a marijuana violation, "They can't just walk by things," Warren said.   The chief said there have been "very few" people arrested on marijuana charges in the last several years who said they were using it for medical purposes.   The coalition's campaign coordinator rejected the argument that the issue should be brought to the state, not the city. Dan Solano said the Traverse City effort, along with similar successes in Detroit and Ann Arbor, "sets us up for a statewide campaign."   As for its local import, the ordinance is "the will of the people asking the courts not to be so hard on our patients," Solano said.   Grand Traverse County prosecutor Alan Schneider said he hasn't looked into the legality or implications of the proposed ordinance.   "It doesn't sound to me like this ordinance is going to have any affect on the day-to-day events that occur in our office," Schneider said.   Karrie Zeits, deputy city attorney, said if the ordinance is approved, she will recommend the city ask the circuit court to "clarify" its validity.   The uncertainty was echoed by one city voter, who paused to talk about the proposal during a trip to the post office. Marie Morrison said she hasn't made up her mind on how she will vote Tuesday.   "I've still got a few days," she said.    Laura Barber said she believes voters will rally around her cause and sympathize with her story.    "For me, I am going to fight, I am going to continue to fight," she said.Source: Traverse City Record-Eagle (MI)Author: Vanessa McCray, Record-Eagle Staff WriterPublished: November 3, 2005Copyright: 2005 The Traverse City Record-EagleContact: letters record-eagle.comWebsite: Article & Web Site:Michigan Cares Medical Use Supporters Gear Up for Fall Fight
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