Detroit: Marijuana Depenalization Measure In Litigation

Detroit, MI: Proponents of a proposed municipal ballot measure to prohibit the criminal prosecution of adults who possess minor amounts of marijuana are appealing a city election commission ruling that would bar voters from deciding on the proposal this November.

Members of the Coalition for a Safer Detroit had collected over 6,000 signatures from registered voters to qualify the measure for the 2010 ballot. The Detroit Election Commission certified the signatures in June. However, last week the Commission voted 3 to zero to remove the proposal from the ballot – claiming that, if passed, the ordinance would be in conflict with state law.

Coalition representatives are appealing the ruling. A hearing on the matter in Wayne County Circuit Court is scheduled for Thursday, August 26.

Proponents of the measure say that they will appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court, if necessary. They note that in 2004 Detroit voters approved Measure M, which amended the Detroit city criminal code so that local criminal penalties would no longer apply to any individual “possessing or using marijuana under the direction … of a physician or other licensed health professional.”

The Detroit Election Commission made no effort to legally challenge that measure.

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