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Posted on Thu, May 24, 2012 : 1:40 p.m.

Groups launch ballot initiative in Ypsilanti to direct police efforts away from marijuana enforcement

By Katrease Stafford

Two groups have launched a campaign to put a measure on the November ballot that would redirect police efforts away from enforcing laws against marijuana use in the city of Ypsilanti.

An Eastern Michigan University student organization, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and Chuck Ream, political director of the Ypsilanti Lowest Law Enforcement Priority initiative, held a press conference Wednesday afternoon announcing the campaign.

The two groups need to secure 1,000 signatures from registered voters by the end of July in order for the initiative to be included on the Nov. 6 presidential election ballot in the city.

ssdp art.jpg

Courtesy of Students for Sensible Drug Policy

If they are successful, Ypsilanti residents will be asked to vote on the following question:

“Shall the Ypsilanti city charter be amended such that the use and/or consumption of one ounce or less of useable marijuana by adults 21 years or older is the lowest priority of law enforcement personnel?”

Ream said he believes if enacted, local law enforcement would have to “reprioritize” their resources. Ream cited the city of Detroit as an example of what he thinks should serve as proof of a need for fundamental change.

“The city of Detroit has 11,000 unprocessed rape kits,” Ream said. “They don’t have enough time or money to process rape kits but have enough to chase us around and put us in jail for cannabis? This is absolutely ludicrous and absurd and everyone knows it. This vote is not necessarily about marijuana but about police priority.”

Ream's medicinal marijuana dispensary MedMar on Packard Street in Ann Arbor was raided by police in August of 2011, a day after the Michigan Court of Appeals released its ruling that sales of marijuana at dispensaries was illegal.

Last October, prosecutors sought forfeiture of more than $110,000 from the dispensary.

Ream and SSDP believes police resources should be used elsewhere.

Antonio Cosme, who is a former president of EMU’s student government, serves as the campaign organizer and manager. Cosme said the initiative will provide people an opportunity to “speak up.”

“We stand at the edge of a historic moment,” Cosme said. “National support for marijuana legalization has hit a historic high with over 50 percent. Our communities should have the right to determine where our resources are being allocated.”

Ream said in November of 2011, Kalamazoo voters by a nearly 2-1 margin voted to make the crime of the possession of less than once of cannabis by adults, the lowest priority of their law enforcement employees.

“We’re going to top that,” Ream said. “We’re going to have at least 75 percent of the vote. There’s no question. I won’t let it fail.”


Chuck Ream

File photo

The very fact that Ypsilanti voted in favor of medicinal marijuana dispensaries is proof enough that voters will vote for the LLEP initiative, Ream said.

“Ann Arbor is still a chicken to license for the dispensaries,” Ream said. “Ypsilanti is way ahead.”

In May 2011, an Ypsilanti medical marijuana dispensary, the 3rd Coast Compassion Center, was the first in the state to receive a dispensary license from a local municipality.

In December, Ypsilanti city staff relicensed all four Ypsilanti dispensaries.

LLEP initiatives have been passed in Seattle, various California cities, Eureka Springs, Arkansas and Missoula, Montana.

Having residents vote in favor of the initiative on a local level might increase the likelihood of it being voted in favor on a national level, Cosme said.

“We have the opportunity to set an example in Washtenaw County and Southeast Michigan and the entire state and progress has to begin somewhere,” Cosme said. “So why not start in our own backyard here in Ypsilanti where we have greatest potential to enact change in the lives of our friends and neighbors.”

Miles Gerou, an EMU student and president of SSDP, said his group began last fall semester and is based on the concern of how drug uses impacts the local community. The group has 13 members.

“We believe individuals have the right to decide what they want to do and we want to encourage honest conversation about drug use and look for progressive law reform,” Gerou said. “EMU SSDP 100 percent supports the drug initiative. We support it because we believe it protects responsible college students who use cannabis as well as all our responsible users in the community.”

Gerou said he there’s “no possibility” that the campaign for signatures and subsequent vote will fail.

To gain signatures, Gerou and Cosme said the group plans to go door to door in an effort to garner votes.

Ream presented the group with a $1,000 check in order for them to pay potential petition signers $1 per signature.

Cosme said the group does not plan to use the funds for that but instead for publications, literature and to support the mission.

“We don’t think we need to pay people for the vote,” Cosme said.

Cosme said the group has yet to receive any opposition, but he expects that to change soon.

"We have not spoken officially to [officials,]" he said. "Today was our big come out day but I imagine we will."

Cosme said the organization plans to go door-to-door to seek signatures.

"We're also thinking about petitioning in the Ypsilanti Farmers Market and in local businesses," he said.

Ream, who says he has smoked marijuana every single day for over 40 years, said the LLEP initiative will be a huge issue going forward and leading up to the November elections.

“It’s great to be part of history and on the right side of history,” Ream said.



Sat, May 26, 2012 : 2:36 a.m.

Let me see if I have this straight. This person, Ream, gets his medical marijuana business raided in Ann Arbor, so he comes to Ypsilanti, where no dispensaries have been raided and four have been re-licensed, to stir the pot. It's obvious he's been smoking something every day for 40 years, because he seems to be quite out of touch with reality. He should come down long enough to learn that there's really only two ways to get arrested for marijuana in Ypsilanti these days as it is, especially as short-staffed as YPD is: 1) Walk up to a cop with a joint in your mouth and blow the smoke directly into his/her face, or 2) commit a real crime and have marijuana on you or in your car/house when you're arrested. Anyone who finds it necessary to be in an altered state every single day for 40 years, regardless of how he gets there, has issues. Get help dude.

Martin Church

Fri, May 25, 2012 : 4:50 p.m.

I will not sign this petition. I have watched too many friends die due to drug use that started with this drug. And I do not think people in Ypsilanti voted for drug dealers on our street corners. we voted for the use of this controlled substance to be used to control pain in certain people with a predefined disorder. If this comes to a vote I will vote NO. This drug is still illegal according t the feds and state law.


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 4:41 a.m.

Great idea! lets make it possible for all the local drug dealers to walk around the city with a bag of drugs on them. what is the motive for a majority of major crime in the ypsilanti area......ummm, drugs. Marijuana is a drug and thugs will rob and steal to support their habbit. Just wait until your house gets broken into or your kid gets robbed, your minds may change.


Sat, May 26, 2012 : 2:40 a.m.

Honesty, please don't embarrass yourself further. That tired fantasy about how there wouldn't be any drug crime if drugs were legal is pathetic. Unless you are suggesting that drugs would not only be legal, but free too, there will always be criminals who will steal from others to obtain them. Legal drugs would still have to be purchased. Do you understand? Coca-cola and pork chops and pantyhose are all legal, but people rob and kill trying to get them for free every day.


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 2:03 p.m.

Marijuana is not a drug. It is a non-addictive herb...and anyone that wants to dispute that, better have research to back it up, because I DO! Your information comes from years and years of government propaganda. I find it silly that there are even laws regarding this herb, when catnip, salvia, datura, and other smoking herbs are ignored. Homes are robbed BECAUSE of the PROHIBITION of this herb, not despite it!! Cops choose marijuana as their "notches on their belts" because IT IS AN EASY TARGET. It takes more energy to do some real work...yet the resources (cops, courts, jails, prisons...)are spent on taking down the person that has a joint on them. Give me a break!!! By the way...what happened to cocaine and heroin? Did they go away?

G. Orwell

Thu, May 24, 2012 : 10:28 p.m.

The FDA admits pharmaceuticals kill at least 100,000 people a year (John's Hopkins estimates 250,0000/yr.) and does nothing. Marijuana hasn"t killed anyone and it has many medical benefits yet it is illegal. Our federal government at work protecting us. Who needs enemies when you have friends like these. Good luck to the groups. I hope you succeed and set a great example. Feds will not be happy.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 10:11 p.m.

As a neighbor of one who does sell and smokes it, what are my rights that I can't sit outside and have to endure that whiff of pot? My rights are being violated just having to endure it. Smoke it elsewhere. I am voting no on this ballot. Everyone else should too. Make sure the police keep up with the patrols.


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 8:34 p.m.

Uh... hopefully it tells them that marijuana really shouldn't be illegal.


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.

Believe it or not? I do call. Every single time. And still nothing. Also, it is illegal to sell that stuff in a neighborhood. We know, we have seen it done. What does this tell our children?


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 2:07 p.m.

Then your rights must be violated when your dogs farts and your neighbor mows his lawn as well?

Basic Bob

Fri, May 25, 2012 : 9:55 a.m.

You have the right to call the police and report a crime every time your neighbor smokes up. This already gives you an opportunity to modify the priority of the police. I bet you don't call unless a serious crime occurs. That's what this is about.

Candy Chavez

Thu, May 24, 2012 : 9:37 p.m.

Im all for it! Where do I sign? Are you running a petition on- line as well?

Mark Hergott

Thu, May 24, 2012 : 9:27 p.m.

I don't smoke, but I also don't have the self-righteousness to tell other people what they ought to do with their lungs and money.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 9:15 p.m.

Vote YES on LLEP in Ypsi! I'll see you at the polls!


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 8:12 p.m.

"The city of Detroit has 11,000 unprocessed rape kits," Ream said. "They don't have enough time or money to process rape kits but have enough to chase us around and put us in jail for cannabis? This is absolutely ludicrous and absurd and everyone knows it. This vote is not necessarily about marijuana but about police priority I am so glad that Ream thinks its his business to set the police priority. How about if we let the chief of police decide the priority since that's what we hired him to do.

Chris Blackstone

Thu, May 24, 2012 : 7:58 p.m.

So citizens get to set the priority for crimes that the police investigate? I can't think of a worse idea.,

West of Main

Thu, May 24, 2012 : 9:37 p.m.

You'd rather citizens weren't setting priorities? Uh, think for just a minute about that.

Steven Thompson

Thu, May 24, 2012 : 5:48 p.m.

Folks, I am 64 years old, became a Christian in 1978, became a minister in 1984, and have been branded a criminal for 46 years because I CHOOSE to grow & use God-created Cannabis instead of doing man-made, poisonous drugs (legal or otherwise). I am not alone..we are a LARGE counter-culture of folks who CHOOSE the natural route over the synthetic one. We DO NOT manufacture a drug...we GROW a, seed-bearing, herbal PLANT! We love our families & communities, work hard, believe in shopping local & recycling, grow organic, and contribute to society.Now I ask you, how are we hurting anyone with the choice of our lifestyle? What gives ANYONE the right to make us live a different lifestyle, or THEIR'S? We DO NOT force ANYONE to live our's! We have been jailed, our children & possessions taken away from us, and even killed for OUR choice of lifestyle! So I am humbly pleading with ALL who read this to help RIGHT a WRONG that has been going on for over 70 years now in our country! Help us get the signatures that we need to qualify for the state ballot to end prohibition for ALL adults 21 & over, and then vote YES for OUR God-given rights this November. Go to . Our signature drive started in January and we have till July 9th to collect 500,000 sigs. Let's make our great state of Michigan the shining light on the hill and the leader of our great nation once again...let's make history once again! Obviously, we are not going to get any help from our current legislators. OUR FUTURE IS NOW IN OUR HANDS, SO WHAT WILL WE DO WITH IT? Rev.Steven B.Thompson,Chapter Director Benzie County NORML (Former Executive Director of Michigan NORML from May,2007 to November,2011) Help end Cannabis Prohibition at WE DO NOT MANUFACTURE A DRUG...WE GROW A PLANT!!


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 11:13 a.m.

Well if you're a christian and a minister that of course makes a difference...