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November 2004
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Traitors in Ann Arbor

Thanks to Cyndy in comments, comes this news:

The Ann Arbor City Attorney, Stephen Postema, has declared that the medical marijuana measure which passed with a 74% majority is “invalid”, according to the Ann Arbor News, and Police Chief Dan Oates has instructed his officers to continue enforcing state and federal marijuana laws in the same manner as in the past.

Regardless of any actual case law regarding such conflicts, it is unconscionable for a public servant to act in this way. Postema and Oates work for the city and should be trying to find a way to accommodate the local measure, rather than intentionally defying it.
Now if Ann Arbor had passed an ordinance that was more restrictive of individual rights than state and federal law (such as prohibiting certain kinds of political speech), then Postema and Oates would have no choice but to follow state and federal law.
But this is a case of how local prosecution chooses to enforce laws. The state appeals court ruling (regarding an Ypsilanti law in 1977) that Postema quoted merely said that “city officials weren’t prohibited from referring marijuana cases for prosecution under state law.” This doesn’t mean that they must.
When California first passed medical marijuana laws, there were a number of vigilantes like Postema and Oates who wanted to enforce their own personal view of law within a conflicting situation. The people got together and forced many of these out of office. Perhaps the same will be true in Ann Arbor.

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