DETROIT, MI — Whether or not deserved, affluent Grosse Pointe Park has the reputation of being uptight, conservative community.
Tim Beck, the head of SAFER Michigan, an organization supporting efforts decriminalize marijuana across the state, including a ballot initiative expected to be appear on the November ballot in Grosse Pointe Park, calls it a “pretty unique community,” adding, “We’ve never tried that demographic.”
Grosse Pointe Park with an estimated population of 11,330, is nearly 85 percent white with a median income of $101,000, based on U.S. Census data.
On Wednesday, Beck with Tom Lavigne, president of the Decriminalize Grosse Pointe Park ballot initiative, plan to submit about 620 petition signatures to the city clerk.
Beck said 485 qualified signatures are needed for the proposal to make the ballot.
If passed, the proposal would decriminalize the personal use and possession, including transport of less than an ounce of marijuana on private property for someone over the age of 21.
Although a state law would still exist, the proposal would remove marijuana crimes as city ordinances, which means any proceeds from fines or property seizure related to marijuana use would go to the state, rather than to the city as they do now, Beck said.
“We are eliminating their ability to profit” from marijuana enforcement, said Beck. “There are real consequences.”
Some cities, such as Ferndale, which Beck called an “anomaly,” have continued to prosecute for marijuana crimes under state despite a local vote to decriminalize.
Beck notes that others, like Jackson and Grand Rapids, have said “We’re going to follow the will of the voters.”
Lavigne, a Grosse Pointe Park resident, said he’s received a “real positive response” and the residents of Grosse Pointe Parke, for the most part, seem to understand this isn’t a “toxic issue to be afraid of.”
“Grosse Pointe Park is very educated and they’re going to vote in favor of this,” Lavigne said. “We’ve ran into (opposition.) Certainly a lot of people were expressing the opposite, but this is a very conservative thing to do, to allow a man to have this freedom in his own castle in the privacy of our homes.
“Mostly they were worried about the children, but this was 21 and over; it’s designed to keep it away from children. That reefer madness just doesn’t hold any water.”
Beck said the statewide marijuana advocacy group SAFER Michigan is supporting local communities in their individual efforts to decriminalize with the “end game” being statewide legalization similar to what exists in Washington and Colorado.
“But we’re not ready for that yet,” Beck said. “At this point the poll numbers are not there, but were looking to gradually take it there.”
Beck said SAFER provided Decriminalize Grosse Pointe Park $800 to pay for the collection of petitions signatures.
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