This post was originally published November 8, 2014 7:16 pm by Chuck Ream. It has been recreated in a rebuild of the site.
Thanks and congratulations to every person who helped us carry the torch of cannabis freedom forward! We won on Nov. 4, 2014 in Saginaw – pop. 50,790, Mount Pleasant – pop. 26,016, Berkley –pop. 14,070, Port Huron – pop 30,184, Huntington Woods – pop. 6,238 and Pleasant Ridge pop. 2,526.
Lapeer – pop 8,841, lost by 6 votes. Frankfort – pop. 1,286, Onaway pop. 880, Clare pop. 3,118, and Harrison – pop. 2,114 were unsuccessful by wider margins. When you look at the numbers it seems that the real determinant of whether we won or lost is how rural the city is. It seems that majorities of voters in small towns, far from urban centers, are not with us at this time. People who run initiatives in very rural areas are extraordinarily brave, but may find it impossible to win. Before running initiatives in these areas more careful study must be done. Many thanks to Cary and David – and H.B. in Saginaw, to Brandon, Jericho, and Ian in Mount Pleasant, to Laura in Port Huron, and Andrew and Debra for Huntington Woods, Pleasant Ridge, and Berkeley! Great thanks also to Bernard for Lapeer, what a squeaker, Rev. Steve and Laura for Frankfort, Ron and Brad for Onaway, & Jamie and Rick and the whole up north crew for getting us on the ballot in Clare and Harrison. We “liberated” more cities than ever before this year; our eight wins in 2014 (including the August wins in Hazel Park and Oak Park) top the 5 wins of 2012. Some cannabis consumers in a few of these cities will get better treatment. Leaders who won should press local leaders to respect their voters’ wishes. You can check and see if pot got more votes than they did. It is sad that our people in the small towns that lost won’t have the tiny extra layer of protection that a citywide victory may bring. We couldn’t have made this progress without wonderful activist donors, who gave money to us. We are forever grateful for the $6500 that was given to our Safer Michigan Coalition Political Action Committee. These donors know that it’s important to always create new political victories to a) help protect and implement safe access to medical cannabis products in Michigan and b) build the momentum for cannabis legalization in Michigan. State Rep. Jeff Irwin emailed us on Nov. 6. He told us that we should not look at this as winning 6 and losing 5 in november, we should realize that there are about 165,000 people in places that votes yes, and a total of about 16,000 in cities voting no. Hindsight is a perfect 20/20. We took a calculated risk to operate in small rural cities where nobody had ever tried something like this. It was a learning experience that will be heeded in the future. These losses were a shock to me. We know, however, that we can’t win a long war without losing a few small battles. We see that it will be no easy “cakewalk” to legalization; it will be a long hard struggle in Michigan, involving hard working activists who have resources and guts. We have been on a roll with these initiatives for 10 years, never a loss, batting 1000. In that context, when a competent person wanted to run a ballot initiative we said yes. We have learned hard lessons from our 2014 results. We will demonstrate that new knowledge in future campaigns. I, (Chuck) did not do a serious enough investigation of the smaller cities to be sure that we would win. We should at least have had a clear knowledge of such things as a) how the town voted on Medical Marijuana in 2008 b) What is the percentage of Democrats and Republicans, c) is the median age older or younger than average. ..& now we must add, d) are they near to or part of major population centers. Our petition wording this year was very bold; it was to enable the “de facto” legalization of an ounce of marijuana. We should use our Lowest Law Enforcement Priority (LLEP) initiative template wherever we have the slightest chance of losing. It is easy to pass, since the voter is voting about spending priorities, not really marijuana. Also, no observers care about the fine points of which proposal is on the ballot – They just think, “Is this a pot law reform proposal? Did it win or lose? By how much?” No LLEP has ever lost. They win by big margins and indicate that voters want cannabis law reform (the LLEP in Pleasant Ridge had 1,103 “yes” votes to 430 “no” votes). In hindsight, possibly we should have run LLEP’s in the small cities. I don’t mean to be rude, but our movement can’t risk a loss in a place most Michiganders have never heard of. The Safer Michigan Coalition will be involved in many more victories for cannabis law reform in Michigan cities. We will not be timid, but at the same time we will be more circumspect in our analysis. There will never again be a group of losses. We will take planning and prognostication even more seriously. Our goal and mission will always be to produce victories. Our attitude will still be “Full steam ahead and damn the torpedo’s”, – but with finesse gained from experience. At this time cities under consideration for the ballot in 2015, (a “non election year”, but we don’t seem to let that stop us) are East Lansing, Portage, Utica, Traverse City, Gross Pointe Park, Gaylord, Montrose, and Keego Harbor. Also see SAFER MICHIGAN COALITION POST ELECTION STATEMENT – click on “2014 Campaigns”