Marijuana decriminalization measures passed in six Michigan municipalities in Tuesday’s election, while five others denied similar measures.
In Metro Detroit, voters in Huntington Woods and Berkley approved city charter amendments that would lift local bans on the possession, transfer and transportation of less than an ounce of marijuana by a person above 21 years old. The marijuana must be on private property not used in public.
A third Metro Detroit community — Pleasant Ridge — voted to approve making marijuana-related offenses “the lowest law enforcement priorities” for the city.
In Saginaw, voters added a new section to the city’s charter that bans elected officials from passing any ordinances that restrict the use, possession or transport of small amounts of marijuana on private property by those 21 or older.
Saginaw County Sheriff William Federspiel said deputies will stop citing people with minor marijuana violations. However, interim Saginaw police Chief Robert Ruth and Saginaw County Prosecutor John McColgan both said they did not plan on having their respective departments change how they do their jobs.
In Mount Pleasant, voters approved an amendment to a city ordinance that would mean nothing in the city’s code would apply to the use, possession or transfer of less than an ounce of marijuana, according to the Morning Sun.
Mount Pleasant Public Information Officer Jeff Browne said the vote won’t change how police do their jobs, because police already do not target small marijuana infractions.
“We’ve never targeted or looked at people for possession of marijuana,” he told The Saginaw News, adding police have enforced marijuana offenses while investigating other offenses.
“It’s not like we shake down people for possession.”
Voters in Port Huron narrowly approved an amendment to the city charter that prohibits any ordinance from applying to people 21 years of age or older who use, possess or transfer one ounce of marijuana on private property, the Times Herald reported.
As the Associated Press notes, the local votes all conflict with state and federal law. Michigan still bans marijuana use and possession, unless it has been approved for medical reasons. On the federal level, marijuana is still a schedule I drug.
In Clare, Frankford, Harrison, Lapeer and Onaway, voters rejected marijuana decriminalization.
In Lapeer, the measure failed by just six votes. The measure would have allowed individuals 21 years of age and older to possess one ounce of marijuana on private property.
The six communities that approved marijuana decriminalization join 11 others that have passed decriminalization measures since 2010.
In August, Hazel Park and Oak Park passed decriminalization measures and Ferndale, Jackson and Lansing voters approved decriminalization in 2013. Other cities that have passed decriminalization measures include Detroit, Flint, Ypsilanti and Grand Rapids.
Kyle Feldscher is the Capitol education and MSU reporter for MLive Media Group. Reach him via email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @Kyle_Feldscher. Read more stories here.
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