I have to admit, I was skeptical that they could do it, but the group Decriminalize GR has successfully gotten an initiative petition onto the ballot in November to decriminalize the possession of Marijuana in Grand Rapids. They turned in over 10,000 petition signatures, much more than the 6,000 or so required. Today the City Commission approved the language, the last step in ensuring it will be on the ballot in November.
This is incredibly good news. The war on drugs has been the most destructive government program in the history of our nation. More crime, cost, death, and pain comes out of making marijuana illegal than the drug itself could ever cause. The constitution is regularly violated and trimmed back in the name of the war on drugs. Government programs proliferate, costing us billions a year. Thousands of people are murdered each year, here and abroad, all in the name of "stopping the supply," which clearly is a gigantic failure.
I'm hoping that this will open up a debate on the failure of the war on drugs and an eventual focus on treatment rather than criminalization. Already, one city commissioner has shown that he's more interested in protected vested interests and the status quo than fixing this failure. First Ward City Commissioner Walt Gutowski has already come out against the ballot question. That's unfortunate. When the pros and cons of the war on drugs are weighed, it is by every possible measurement a failure. Perpetuating it only perpetuates failure.
If you can afford it, please send Decriminalize GR a few bucks to fund the coming educational campaign to get Grand Rapidians to embrace policy sanity.
The ballot language is available online.