FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Eric Lupher
Company: Citizens Research Council of Michigan
Date: October 13, 2021
The Citizens Research Council of Michigan, a 105-year-old not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving government in Michigan, has provided brief analyses of the three proposals on Detroit’s ballot at the November 2, 2021, general election.
The proposals include a voter-initiated city ordinance (Proposal E decriminalizing entheogenic plants), a proposal placed on the ballot by city council (Proposal R creating a reparations task force), and a voter-initiated city charter amendment (Proposal S regarding initiative powers).
Proposal E would enact a Detroit ordinance to decriminalize to the fullest extent permitted under Michigan law the personal possession and therapeutic use of entheogenic plants.
If Proposal E is rejected, use and possession of entheogenic plants would remain illegal and enforced pursuant to Michigan law.
Proposal E would decriminalize the use and possession of entheogenic plants (generally, certain psychedelics) in Detroit, however, it does not legalize the use and possession of these psychedelics. It would make enforcement of laws relating to entheogenic plants the city’s lowest law-enforcement priority. Distribution of psychedelics would still be criminalized. Without regulated and guided use of these substances, individuals put themselves at practical and psychological risks. Potential impacts of this proposal could include an increased and uninformed usage of these substances, increased access to potential therapeutic uses for various ailments, and a reduction in public resources devoted to the enforcement of criminal penalties related to the use of certain psychedelic substances by adults in Detroit. Decriminalization in the state’s largest city also could create momentum for future statewide decriminalization efforts.
Proposal R would require the Detroit City Council to establish a reparations task force to make recommendations for housing and economic development programs that address historical discrimination against Detroit’s Black community.
If Proposal R is rejected, City Council could still create a reparations task force on its own.
Over the past year, conversations about reparations have resurfaced following the killing of George Floyd, the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the 2020 presidential election. Reparations for descendants of slaves gained national momentum in 2021 after a U.S. House committee advanced for the first-time legislation to study reparations for Black Americans. Proposal R creates a reparations task force, but the proposal does not extend beyond establishing the body. It does not define membership of the body or any timelines it is supposed to meet. Further, it does not ensure any legislative or fiscal action towards enacting any of the recommendations the task force makes. The task force has one specific directive: to make short, medium, and long-term recommendations for the city to specifically address the creation of generational wealth and to boost economic mobility and opportunity in the Black community.
Proposal S would enable voters to petition for the enactment of city ordinances that include the appropriation of money.
If Proposal S is rejected, voters would not be able to petition for the enactment of city ordinances that include the appropriation of money.
While tools of direct democracy (i.e., the initiative) give citizens a say in the policies and laws of their city or state, they can also be used by businesses and the wealthy to achieve specific policy objectives. Allowing citizens to enact voter-initiated ordinances for the appropriation of money provides an opportunity for citizens to influence their government but could present challenges for the operation of government. It is not clear as to how such citizen-initiated appropriations would fit with current laws as they relate to the timing of elections, the budget and appropriations processes, the prioritization of city spending, and the powers granted to certain branches of government. The city charter provides two methods by which money can be appropriated – 1) through the annual budget process, and 2) through budget amendments that can only be made under certain circumstances.
The Citizens Research Council of Michigan does not endorse or oppose these proposals, lobby, or endorse candidates for office.