Sen. Jones Wants To Go Lax On Michigan’s M.I.P. Laws
State Senator Rick Jones R-Grand Ledge is sponsoring a bill that calls for the decriminalization of underage drinking. According to a story at mlive.com, Jones told fellow lawmakers the reason for his proposal is partly due to the backlog of Minor In Possession cases in Michigan courts. Senate Bill 332 would make MIP a civil infraction, not a misdemeanor, as it has been since 1995. The current fine structure for MIP would remain. But, guilty parties will no longer face possible jail time or have a blemish on their permanent record. This would apply to first and second time offenders. A third MIP offense would still be a misdemeanor.
I'm sorry, personally, I sense a bit of hypocrisy. So, let me get this straight. A former sheriff wants to go easier on kids under 21 when they're caught drinking; a guy that, apparently, once spoke to a co-worker's school assembly about "Zip. Zero. Zilch." Senator Jones has also been arm to arm with Attorney General Bill Schuette in the fight against Michigan's Medical Marihuana Act approved by voters in 2008. Here is audio of Schuette introducing Jones in 2011 to speak out against MMA:
Jones fights the MMA for some good reasons. After all, it has been altered drastically since 2008 due to loopholes and confusion. And, both sides of the debate have had their voices heard and reflected in law. It actually seems to be an issue that gets bipartisan support these days. But, let's be real. No matter which side of the debate you support, there is no denying the statistics that point to the dangers of drinking, especially with minors. We've all heard the cries of special interest groups like M.A.D.D. (who, by the way, could stand to rethink their power strategy a bit, too...use your iron fisted "resources" to help expand public transit instead of crusading for prohibition...another topic for another time). The public; voters, constituents; widely accept and agree the downside of making it easier for minors to drink with less risk on the line.
It doesn't take a genius to sit back and see that support for marijuana decriminalization is gaining support across the country, across Michigan, and especially here in Mid-Michigan. Lansing and East Lansing voters have already voted into city law books ordinances to decriminalize pot. And, that's where the MIP issue could and should be decided as well.
If the state thinks it should get involved with the MIP issue at the sake of innocent youth (also noted by Jones in the mlive.com piece) as well as court and corrections costs, why do they continue to shy away from the same points when it comes to marijuana? If you can validate the points of contention when it comes to a strong public no-no, it seems your points would be more valid when it comes to a topic gaining wide public support.
I guess Michigan lawmakers are just too scared to rock the proverbial boat that is Federal Law.