Proposal M’s passage bad for Detroit
- By Dawud Walid
Proposal M, which was recently passed to partially decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana in Detroit, is a Band-Aid solution to addressing drug use and conviction. It also is not helpful for the city’s image.
There is no doubt America has antiquated drug enforcement policies. Nationwide, our prisons are filled to the brim with low-level, non-violent drug offenders.
The issue of drug use, which leads to abuse, should be treated more with public health solutions and not through criminal judicial non-remedies. But Proposal M is not a solution to the issue.
Proposal M does not provide a legal mandate for the Detroit Police Department to ignore existing state law regarding marijuana possession. The Michigan State Police will enforce state law and federal law enforcement will continue to arrest people based upon federal law. This is the legal reality.
Let us also be clear that marijuana is a drug which impairs cognition, causes mental health issues with chronic use and is addictive. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a lessened desire to achieve and diminished interest in being social also affect regular users.
A 2012 Yale University School of Medicine report shows a correlation between alcohol and marijuana leading to the use of other recreational drugs, which gives more credence to the “gateway drug” theory.
Although I believe in personal freedom, I simply do not see the upside for sanctioning the use of another recreational drug in Detroit. Proposal M makes a behavior with public health implications socially acceptable.
Much of America views Detroit as a poverty-ridden, drug-infested city. Proposal M may solidify these negative perceptions for some, although for others it may serve as a boon for unregulated, untaxed marijuana tourism for outlanders to find homes to legally smoke less than an ounce per day.
America’s War on Drugs has indeed failed.There definitely needs to be augmentation in our drug laws and enforcement. Maybe this means shifting the penalty for possessing marijuana to a civil infraction like a parking ticket instead of clogging our courts with possession charges.
However, just because our drug laws are outdated and marijuana usage has become more acceptable in pop culture, it does not mean that the passage of Proposal M is good for Detroit. State and federal laws still trump it.
With the passage of Proposal M, I hope civic and faith leaders will reinvigorate calls for more robust drug education in Detroit while at the same time calling for a change to our archaic national drug enforcement policies.Proposal M will not serve as a remedy in this process.
Dawud Walid is executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI).