Ann Arbor is the only city in Michigan to
decriminalize marijuana use, a move that dates back 32 years. But
this notoriety carries a unique caveat for those who attempt to
take advantage of the law. While the Ann Arbor Police Department
enforces city law which including the ordinance decriminalizing
marijuana, the University and the Department of Public Safety
should enforce state law instead. Therefore, if a student or
another individual is caught possessing or using marijuana on
University property, the crime is treated as if it did not occur in
Ann Arbor. The unnecessary penalties that can result from such a
situation could potentially ruin the reputation of the user. Like
the AAPD, the University and DPS should enforce the laws enacted by
the city, and in turn, the University should provide a progressive
statement on the senselessness of strongly penalizing a substance
that carries few undesirable consequences if used responsibly.

Mira Levitan

If a person is caught possessing or using marijuana by the AAPD,
he receives a $50 fine. The AAPD can give someone unlimited tickets
for marijuana possession and use, but no jail time can ever come
from them. If, however, someone is caught possessing or using
marijuana on University grounds, DPS cites the person for a
misdemeanor and he must appear in court. State law, which the
University follows, can give an individual up to 90 days in jail
for using marijuana and up to a year in jail for possession.

In addition to jail time, the misdemeanor is on the
offender’s permanent record, a move that is especially
devastating for students. Students face a lifelong punishment for a
relatively benign crime, emphasizing the need for the state to
change its policies toward marijuana. No one should go to jail for
using a substance that harms nobody but themselves when used
responsibly. Marijuana has no known health effects worse than those
typically associated with tobacco and alcohol. Alcohol and tobacco
are legal because an individual can choose what to put into his
body as long as its use does not infringe upon the rights of
others, and the same standards should apply to marijuana.

Opponents of marijuana decriminalization and legalization
believe that less strict drug laws will lead to an increase in the
crimes usually associated with the drug trade But in fact, the
illegal status of marijuana leads to these crimes. Lowering the
punishment for marijuana use and possession would decrease the
price of the drug, thereby causing a drop in the number of those
willing to sell it. Marijuana is a drug widely demonized but in
reality poses no threats suitable to justify its illegality. The
University and DPS should follow suit, and permit the use and
possession of marijuana on campus.

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