As an enthusiastic young man running for one of the seven seats this year on the Kalamazoo City Commission, Louis Stocking is taking a stand on many issues facing the city of Kalamazoo including one that no other candidate has spoken for: medicinal marijuana.
As the founder and director of the Kalamazoo Coalition for Pragmatic Cannabis Laws, Stocking believes that Kalamazoo is in need a more liberal marijuana policy and is pursuing a charter amendment in 2010.
The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (enacted in November of 2008) allows severely ill patients to use the otherwise illegal drug. Patients, or their designated primary caregivers, can grow marijuana; however, there is not place in the state of Michigan to legally purchase medical marijuana.
“At Bronson the doctors can’t recommend marijuana use. They can only recommend different clinics for people to contact,” said Stocking. “It’s taking away the liberties of doctors to do what’s best for their patients.”
In 2008, statistics showed that 1,593 controlled substance arrests were made in Kalamazoo. Of that number, 993 were for marijuana offenses, of which 173 were for felonies and 820 were for misdemeanors.
The average cost per arrest is $4,000, according to the coalition.
Currently, Stocking, along with other coalition members, are actively in the process of organizing a low-priority enforcement initiative for marijuana use in Kalamazoo. The initiative, called the Lowest Law Enforcement Priority measure, would direct the Kalamazoo Police and Safety Department and the City Attorney to make adult arrest and prosecution for small amounts of marijuana (with no other aggravating circumstances) their lowest possible priority. By doing so, Stocking believes that “local police and other public officials could focus their resources where they are needed the most by strengthening our personal liberties.”
The KVCC student also feels that there are different ways to stimulate the economy, such as charging for permits and reconstructing the State Theater downtown.
“We need to stop creating things that are redundant,” said Stocking. “We need to be conservative about ways to spend money.”
While Stocking has spoken with other candidates including Don Cooney and Stephanie Moore, he has not attended any City Commission meetings; however, he is confident in his ability to be elected.
He has been networking with friends and co-workers and plans to begin campaigning soon.
Stocking is one of 12 candidates running for City Commission this year. Incumbents include Mayor Bobby Hopewell, Vice Mayor Hannah McKinney, David Anderson, Don Cooney, and Barbara Hamilton Miller. Other announced candidates are Asha Khazad, Nicholas Boyd, Aaron Davis, Terry Kuseske, Kai Phillips, and Mike Kilbourne.
The deadline to file nominating petitions is Oct. 2. The forms, which must contain at least 50 signatures from registered city residents, must be returned to the clerk’s office by Friday, Oct. 2 at 5 p.m. for a candidate’s name to appear on the ballot.
The top two individuals who receive the highest number of votes on November 3, will become mayor and vice mayor, respectively, while the next five candidates will be awarded two-year commission terms.
September 30, 2009