Marijuana Decriminalization on the Ballot in Grand Rapids, MI
While several statewide medical marijuana and even full marijuana legalization ballot measures are getting most of the attention, it is important to remember this November will also feature several big marijuana reform initiatives that will be decided at the local level. The latest one to make a local ballot is an initiative in Grand Rapids Michigan to decriminalize small possession of cannabis. It is the result of the work by the Decriminalize GR campaign. From Mlive.com:
City Commission this morning approved ballot language for a marijuana proposal that voters will consider in November. A city charter amendment sought by Decriminalize GR would make possession and use of marijuana a civil infraction enforced with a ticket, and prohibit Grand Rapids authorities from referring violations for criminal prosecution under state law.
Decriminalize GR last week submitted to the city clerk a petition with more than 10,000 signatures calling for the city charter amendment. The clerk’s office on Monday verified that the at least 6,565 of the signatures – the minimum 5 percent of registered city voters needed to get the proposal on the ballot – were valid.
If approved it would change the city’s laws to make being caught with marijuana a civil infraction punishable with only a $25 fine for the first offense. Fines would increase modestly for subsequent offenses.
Grand Rapids won’t be the only major city in Michigan voting on marijuana this November. After a lengthy two year legal battle the Coalition for Safer Detroit has an initiative that will finally be allowed to go before the voters in the city. If approved it will eliminate all local penalties for the possession of less than an ounce. Possession would still technically be illegal under state law.