Cannabis reform good for Marquette

North Wind Staff

The moment has come to decriminalize recreational cannabis use in Marquette.

On the heels of successful decriminalization initiatives in 2013, adding Lansing, Jackson and Ferndale to the list of Michigan cities with relaxed cannabis laws, Marquette could be the first to do so in the Upper Peninsula.

This move would reflect an acknowledgment that cannabis use is a reality in the community.  By legitimizing the prosecution of recreational users, current cannabis rules prevent city law enforcement from using resources as wisely as possible. Chasing the smell of burning cannabis, writing citations, hiring attorneys and finally prosecuting individuals before a judge complicates a process that should not involve more than paying a fine at the courthouse.

Just as cannabis decriminalization would not legitimize its abuse, continuing prosecution will not abolish its presence. Cannabis has existed in Marquette’s borders for decades; evidently, enforcing laws against its use have yielded nothing more than revenue.

Decriminalization measures have been wildly successful in Michigan. Almost every proposal to decriminalize cannabis use has passed by a landslide. The public consensus is in—now public officials must catch up.

Current cannabis laws precipitate harsh penalties that do not justly reflect the magnitude of the crime. That a good student can have financial aid revoked or be denied subsidized housing for possession would be laughable were it not for the damage caused to the individual’s record.

Worse, an individual is eligible for incarceration for an offense as trivial as enjoying cannabis consumption. If a minor is merely fined for possessing alcohol, a lethal substance, what rationale is there to punish cannabis use more severely?

A national paradigm shift is happening. States and cities alike are pushing toward changing their approaches to cannabis laws. Heeding public opinion is a virtue officials must put before revenue, lest Marquette’s future lies on the wrong side of history.