Local Depenalization Measures Win Big On Election Day

In addition to the historic Election Day votes in Colorado and Washington, voters in several cities in Massachusetts and Michigan also decided overwhelmingly in favor of ending marijuana prohibition.

Massachusetts voters in over 40 municipalities — representing approximately one-fifth of the electorate — voted in favor of local (non-binding) public policy questions in favor of ending the criminalization of cannabis for adults. A complete tally of these public policy questions and results is available here. (Voters in Burlington, Vermont also passed a similar non-binding legalization measure.)

In Michigan, voters in four cities – totaling over a million people – also decided on Election Day to legalize or depenalize the adult use of cannabis. Sixty-five percent of voters in Detroit approved Proposal M, removing local criminal penalties pertaining to the possession on private property of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults over age 21. In Flint, voters approved a citizens’ initiative to amend the city code so that the possession on private property of up to one ounce of marijuana or cannabis paraphernalia by those age 19 or older is no longer a criminal offense. Grand Rapids voters approved Proposal 2 to allow local law enforcement the discretion to ticket first-time marijuana offenders with a civil citation, punishable by a $25 fine and no criminal record. Finally, in Ypsilanti, 74 percent of voters decided in favor of a municipal proposal that makes the local enforcement of marijuana possession offenses the city’s lowest law enforcement priority.

50 thoughts

  1. The biggest hurdle remains now to change federal laws. Mainly law enforcement and their interpretation, drug testing issues and how a positive could destroy a persons future plans for a career in law enforcement or the military. How can civil service agencies or military differenciate between someone having a beer the night before, or smoking a joint the night before testing and coming back positive.For that matter who determines how this would affect performance or reliability as a LE officer, or soldier, sailor, airmen or marine. How does an agency comeup with guidelines? Is it worth destroying someones life over a positive on a drug test for marijuana. I just believe there is just way to much ignorance over marijuana compared to alcohol use. Its just mind boggling, the time for change is NOW!

  2. The measures that have been voted on and enacted in grand rapids such as the proposal two is something that should be voted on and enacted in maryland and the rest of the u.s. and the world, making enforcment of marijuana possession the lowest law enforcement priority, a criminal record could ruin someones chances of getting a good job, and not everyone has the money to waste on court fees and lawyers for a little marijuana, thanks norml for making the end of prohibiton and criminal penalties possible. 🙂

  3. Congratulations friends I am proud of you, and admire you, you gays did it. I am from Serbia and I just got three years in prison for posession less than three grams of marijuana, unbulivable isint it

  4. I have not heard this talking point among pro-pot people!!! Even if the DEA raids and shuts down all legalized distribution centers in Colorado and Washington State, people in Washington are always allowed an ounce. So if all the centers are gone, people will buy their weed from dealers without fear of arrest and the dealers would just super rich. The feds would literally be subsidizing the dealers. On top of it, if the distribution centers are gone, the people of Colorado have the right to grow 6 plants. The DEA doesn’t waste their time with 6 plant home grows and small possession. Marijuana prohibition is on “life support”!!!

  5. Decriminalization measures are positive steps we should applaud. However, decriminalization is far from adequate especially since decriminalized offenses still carry a high level of stigmatization almost equivalent to a misdemeanor.

    Although under decriminalization one might not go to jail, but it is still a civil infraction that carries a heavy fine. Also, this “drug infraction” may still show up on criminal databases, background checks, job searches, it may cause one to lose government housing or college assistance, or may cause one to lose a job. It may also follow the “offender” for the REST OF HIS LIFE. Civil infractions are better than misdemeanors, but when it comes to “marijuana drug infractions” nothing is acceptable to me short of full legalization (albeit for limited amounts like WA and CO). Everything varies by state, but caveat emptor (buyer beware) here!

  6. The fed plans to fight the vote of the people, stand up against this and continue to make our voices heard.

  7. Everyone will be thinking about their state, so I’ll just say it. Why wasn’t something like this on the ballot in MN. I’d bet they could get a lot of signatures in Minneapolis, but it seems they haven’t been trying. I know, I know, I should try to do something about it. I suppose I must join Norml soon.

  8. The Feds already hassle dispensaries in California for supplying state legal services for medication. Imagine what they will do to recreational users. I think the battle has just begun but I’m optimistic since two states have now legalized marijuana. It seems to me the real issue now is to amend the Controlled Substance Act. Almost half the US states recognize medicinal marijuana use so how can the Feds continue to state that there is no medical use? Insane!

    Congratulations Norml on your recent victory. I hope you have some resources to get my state “South Carolina” to accept at least medical marijuana.

    Keep up the good work.

  9. Even if marijuana was legal in Kentucky, the company I work for would still fire you for using. They would make it their company policy of no use even if it was legal. I don’t think marijuana will become legal any time soon in Kentucky. We are in the bible belt. I hope I’m wrong about it.

  10. Quite an election overall for marijuana reform. Maybe next election instead of hearing about abolishing the EPA, the Department of Education, and FEMA, we’ll hear about abolishing the DEA and ONDCP.

  11. Clay, marijuana is probably the leading cash crop in Kentucky (apologies to tobacco) and our state is really going to miss the boat on this. As usual, Kentucky will lag behind the rest of the country instead of leading the way. Our climate is great for growing industrial hemp and we can’t even get our “leaders” to get on board with that, even though farming in this state is dying off. It is truly sad that our leadership is more concerned with keeping their contributions from big alcohol/tobacco, rather than do what is best for the entire state!

  12. regarding civil state-level cannabis law reform as reasoned and willed by the constitutional jurisdiction of the people and federal goverment jurisdiction protocol.

    of course, the drug-law enforcement process proceeds like the machine it is.

    however, the reason and will of the people is clear:

    the controlled substances scheduling system is arguably irrelevant, and it isn’t sacrosanct policy, but it is still a major contending factor to be dealt with logically.

    who do we need to negotiate with then? if it’s a matter of reason, then it is negotiable.

    drug-law treaty metaphysics does not reflect modern civil sensibilities as expressed by the people.

    unlike cannabis, alcohol wasn’t ever enmeshed in international opium control treaties.

    the pre-21st century attitude of ‘government control’ must shift to one of post-20th century ‘civil regulation’, as it is a matter of cognitive liberty.

    this is a task of logic and semantics.

  13. How about quick reschedule mr president. ? Nobel peace price winer get ur shit together.
    Dea should learn farming and help with hemp.
    And politicians should take schrooms and ayuasca on regular basis.
    Thank you and see u in NYC.
    Be norml.

  14. I’m not the smartest apple on the tree, can’t spell well for one thing, but I can read. We all know the economy sucks and it’s not getting better. I can read and in so doing I read some interesting stuff.

    History has a way of repeating it’s self. He who does not know his (or her) history is doomed to repeat it. Well that can work the other way too. Learn from history. Do what has worked in the past. It worked before it can work again.

    Before the GREAT depression in 1929 the laws were against drinking. I think it was the 18th amendment that made it illegal. During this prohibition crime was at an all time high. Murder, gangsters, crime, bootlegging, overcrowding of the courts and jails were at an all time high. Even for those that don’t read, we have all seen enough gangster movies to know this.

    Then in Nov. 1929 the stock market crashed, the Dow went down like 89%. Soup lines, no jobs, the country, our country, as well as the world went into the worst depression in history.

    Then in 1932 I think it was, we elected a guy named Franklin D. Roosevelt who promised us a NEW DEAL. This NEW DEAL had a bunch of new economic laws. Two things that really impressed me the most were these, first in that same year they repealed the 18th amendment and made alcohol legal, (21st amendment I think) and second they established the C.C.C. camps, I think the CCC stood for Civilian Conservation Corps.

    Addressing the first issue first; By legalizing alcohol they took a lot of jobs away from the criminals and gave them to the people and crime went down. So did overcrowding in jails and courts.

    Second, The CCC built a lot of things in this country. Put a lot of people back to work. The men signed on for 6 months and were organized into crews that reforested land, undertook conservation projects in National Parks, and worked on trails and clearing growth in National Forests. They built bridges, repaired dams, built fire lookouts and fences, and did terracing to prevent erosion. They were paid $30 a month, but they had to send $22- $25 to their folks in the cities, so the parents would have money to spend to stimulate the economy. In NY State they build Hamlin Beach State Park, if I remember what I’ve read they had something to do with The Daytona Beach Band Shell. If I’m wrong on that it isn’t that important what is important is they built a lot of stuff, lots of jobs were created. Lots of money started flowing.

    Now we are in another great money crunch in America. Remember, “He who does not know his (or her) history is doomed to repeat it” So Obama or the other guy, whoever wins this Nov. Advice from just a guy that reads, “Lets have a NEW DEAL”

    First this country’s infrastructure is in shambles, everything is falling apart. How about a NEW version of CCC camps? The info structure for those camps is still here just READ your history. The roads, the water pipes, the bridges, there is so much work to be done. All we as a country are missing, all we need, is a STRONG leader to say,” ENOUGH! The hell with politics, let’s get this country back to work, FIXING THIS country!”Obama is in the best position to do this if he is reelected since he won’t have to worry about a third term (not allowed by law). So he is in the best position to say the hell with the politics and who he pisses off, Lets just, “Giter done”, as Larry the Cable guy would say.

    Second end another form of prohibition, Legalize pot and tax the hell out of it! Not to go back and forth on the good and bad of pot in this writing, other than to say there are a few other things in this country that are a lot worse, alcohol, cigarettes, gambling. Look at the tax that could be made. Look at the new jobs and the income tax on those jobs, how much of that 16 Trillion debts the US has could be paid!? As for jobs, I’m not talking about just the obvious ones like the planters and harvesters of the product. How about the truckers and shippers that will bring it to market? The places that will sell it. The package companies that will pack it, the printers that will print the labels, advertisers; the ink company that makes the ink, the list goes on and on. True we might have to let a few prison guards and court personal go, do to less overcrowding in the courts and jails. Those people could easily be retrained to deal with serious drugs and the abusers of same.

    It worked for alcohol. For what it’s worth, you know the State Lotto’s the power ball etc? The lotto in a way started in Harlem NY., think a guy nick named Dutch Shultes, had a lot to do with starting the lotto, they called it,” The Numbers Racket”, back in the 20;s and 30’s just saying.

    Again I don’t profess to be the smartest apple on the tree but I can read, and I can think and for what it’s worth I haven’t smoked pot in a long, long time. Just makes since to me. A new deal like this, within a few years maybe I could afford to take my family to Disney World, more than once a year without having to cut back on groceries. Maybe we all could.

    What bothers me most of all this is, I’m just an average guy, I see this clearly, the powers that be have so much more education than me, they must see it too. what is stopping the people that can change things from ending the rhetoric about putting America back to work and start doing it.

  15. wow…

    I am dealing with marijuana in the military AGAIN (Done this twice muaw hahahaha!). Initially it kept me fit, and they kept me in. Now I’m going on disability (Infantry service) and I recently pissed hot again. The fuck I care about a “Career” in the military; give me my weed; gi bill (when/IF it ever comes) and stay the fuck out of my mail box. Military would be exponentially better with us pot heads, I was the fastest in my battalion NO SHIT 11:00 2 miles smoking EVERY DAY. NOT GIVING A FUCK.

  16. Clay – Grand Rapids is considered to be part of Michigan’s “Bible Belt,” so if there is hope here, there is hope for Kentucky!

  17. Congratulations Washington and Colorado! I’m from Pennsylvania and the editors of my local newspaper already began their snide remarks. Beware of the prohibitionists trying to cause trouble. Who knows what extremes they’ll go to .They’ll probably start vandalizing places and the media will blame it on the marijuana smokers. Something of that nature.The good thing now is people in those states have a choice whether to be a beer drinker or pot smoker, so I look forward to a lot less accidents and domestic abuse/ civil disobedience cases. I hope marijuana reform starts to gain great momentum in Pennsylvania because it can’t come soon enough. It will definitely clear the airways of corruption from law enforcers. No more extortion practices, boohoo. And maybe employers will no longer be able to discriminate eh? That would be good. Have a great day everybody.

  18. A Poem:

    God is wise,
    Man is not.
    Man made beer,
    but God made pot!

    (hehe — this is so fantastic! I’m not a drinker nor a pill popper. I pray that they legalize here in California soon so that I may partake without the fear and guilt. It’s such a gift and I thought it was a demon for so long. But boy! Was I ever wrong.

    It has helped me with depression and PMS and anorexia and panic. And the myriad other issues I’ve had to try to deal with on my own as a result of being a victim of severe child abuse and watching my mother die as a teenager. Even my sisters and brothers and coworkers (who don’t know that I partake) have seen a great improvement in my personality. And I have never missed one day of work because of it. In fact, within the last three years, I have gotten better work reviews than I have gotten EVER! I am in my mid-40s.

    I’ve gotten better with my finances and I give to charity. I’m a hard working, tax-paying U.S. Citizen (not only because of the plant, but it sure hasn’t hurt me in the least!)

    God, thank you for this wonderful plant! Thank you, God, that I don’t have to smoke it (I already smoke cigs – blehhh) ; I can eat it, if I want, or vape!

    I pray that the government does not start taking control and spraying the plants with harmful pesticides.

    I want to thank Norml.org and all those other sister organizations for all their tireless efforts in seeking to legalize this amazing plant. Thank you very much. You people are a Godsend.

  19. All these victories are more important than you think. This all started the same way in CO and WA thanks to hard working activists, Norml, MPP, SSDP, MPP, ACLU, etc. I remember when Mason Tvert was working hard in CO and got national coverage when he suggested to have cannabis smoking lounges in the Denver Airport after an ugly alchol incident on a plane. It didn’t go very far but it got attention in main stream media and was all over the cable news outlets. He also got a lowest priority vote won in Denver 4-5 years ago. In WA it started in Seattle when Dominic Holden and Co. got a lowest enforcement bid passed and now the rest is history. Sure, we need to get the rescheduling going forward but minor victories add up to major wins just like what happened last Tuesday.


  20. There is a statue located at the Denver capital building depicting an American Indian standing in triumph over a dying bison. On a plaque is enscripted the words “Closing Era”. How symbolic.

  21. To ‘We’

    In the mid 80’s when I was stationed in Germany, I recall a little bit of hash with friends every now and then would make life on the weekend much more pleasantt. Never had a detrimental effect on our soldiering either. My first KP session after arriving in country and immediately going to the field was made much nicer by ‘bending a can’.

  22. Flint police plan to arrest people for marijuana possession despite a vote on a city ballot proposal to decriminalize marijuana in some cases.

    From the Detroit Free Press :^(

  23. I was so focused on Washington and Colorado that I was not aware of all these other measures.

    This is really significant when you think about it – it is the beginning or true, substantive changes in our legislation. These changes will eventually drag the Federal Government along, in time. This has truly been a “People’s Movement”!

  24. @Erik – As if the police in Detroit of all places don’t have bigger problems to deal with… the insanity of that city knows no bounds.

    Those of you in WA\CO\CA please continue to be responsible with your use, those of us in other states really need to be able to point to your states and related data as showcases a couple years from now. Please don’t let us down.

  25. Oh and yes these baby steps in municipalities may sound small and meaningless and in some respects individually maybe they are for now, but over time they add up. Those that have made these happen should be proud of these victories.

  26. there is no question that cannabis needs to be removed from federal schedule 1, but such a move by the Obama administration may only be temporary, as it could simply be undone by the next administration.

    the best permanent solution is a constitutional amendment repealing the federal prohibition of cannabis, just as the 21st amendment did with alcohol.

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