There are limitations to the benefit that can be derived from passing initiatives on a piece meal basis. There are 93 municipalities with a population above 10,000 for a combined population of 4,118,016, or 42%. Back out 3 cities, Detroit, Flint, and Grand Rapids with a combined population of 1,004,251, and that leaves 90 municipalities with a total population of 3,113,765, or 31%. The point being if it was possible to pass a law in every one of the 90, only 43% of the population would be protected.
Passing a law in all 90 before 2016 is a pipe dream, a statewide initiative should be a consideration for 2016, but there is a sound strategy for passing decriminalization laws in targeted municipalities preceding some future statewide campaign. Size is an appealing consideration, but just ask all my ex’s, size can be deceiving! Some larger municipalities are more conservative than others and a cost/benefit analysis will rule many out. Additionally, selecting only large municipalities will take an immense amount of resources, and will not achieve statewide distribution of our message (legalize cannabis).
Another consideration should be geography, the whole state needs to be represented so some selections should be based on their location rather than their size. It’s imperative to cover the entire state to achieve the broadest media distribution of the message, and the Upper Peninsula with 500,000 people is still part of Michigan. The more people are repetitively exposed to our message, the faster support builds, but it should come from all corners of the state.
While I’m not a vindictive person, I am starting to understand a little about political gamesmanship. It would seem a little embarrassing to an elected official who opposes cannabis to have a decrim law passed in the municipality in which they reside. I have a great list of names, many I’m sure are on your lips too, but one name in particular I would nominate is Gerald Fisher, Bill Schuette’s municipal architect-obstructionist extraodinaire. Maybe just a whisper of this strategy in a legislator’s ear would be enough to provide the leverage we need to get them to understand our humble point of view.
A final few selections should be based on the racial composition of the municipality. Minorities are arrested and incarcerated at a much higher rate than us white folk and we need to stand up for our friends of every color. We need them to understand we know there’s a problem and we are trying to correct it. We need to reach out to these folks and hopefully they will embrace us because some of them consume cannabis too.
I will confess to saying I hoped to see 60% of the state protected under a decrim law by 2016, but now I see that’s simply not possible. That realization caused me to recalculate our position on the political map and scribe this analysis. It could be argued that pursuing initiatives without a specific purpose is counterproductive to legalization. Some advocates including me have even wondered, what if cannabis is rescheduled, will the DEA give us a spray, a patch, and a pill and say, there’s your medical marijuana… now about those plants…
Until an opinion is issued in the ASA v. DEA case, I would advise a cautious strategy for targeting municipalities based on the above provisions to maximize our leverage with legislators, and broadcast our message to a broad and diverse audience. One negative observation I’ve made about the present campaigns is what I perceived to be a lack of a comprehensive campaign strategy. They were very good at observing election law and collecting the required signatures, but I sensed a lack of what to do next. I’m not knocking the campaigns, just stating that I didn’t see a plan for what to do after the signatures were turned in. It’s nobody’s fault, but it demonstrates our lack of experience (which we are quickly correcting) and resources. This strategy may work this election cycle for these cities, but not every (large) municipality will be as receptive, and we should not expect our opposition to remain silent forever.
DecrininalizeGR, Michael Tufflemire, and his people are to be commended for what they have accomplished, win, lose, or ruled unconstitutional! It’s the largest conservative city in the state, and the endorsements from 20 years of Mayors and area clergy members still blows my mind! It’s an incredible assembly of important community leaders and their collective endorsements should convince Grand Rapid’s voters to VOTE YES ON CITY PROP 2!
Ben Horner and Brian Morrisey also did a fantastic job in Flint, and old pros Tim Beck and Chuck Ream continue to demonstrate why they belong in the Michigan Cannabis Hall of Fame for not only their initiative efforts, but for the impressive body of work they have each produced over the years. My analysis will conclude with this observation, we have made great strides in the past four years, we are learning fast and getting better at the game, and legalization is almost within our grasp. Michigan is very fortunate to have so many intelligent and motivated individuals working tirelessly to reform cannabis laws at every level, but we could be more successful if we acted collectively, and with logical purpose as we go into 2013.