Detroit: Court Of Appeals Rules That 2010 Legalization Initiative Should Have Gone Before Voters

Detroit, MI: The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 last week that city election officials illegally blocked voters in 2010 from deciding on a municipal ballot initiative that sought to remove marijuana possession penalties for those age 21 or older.

Proponents of the ballot measure, the Coalition for a Safer Detroit, collected over 6,000 signatures from registered voters in 2010 to place the measure on that year’s fall ballot. The vote never took place, however, because election officials alleged that the proposal conflicted with state anti-drug laws. A trial court agreed with their opinion.

On Friday, the state Court of Appeals reversed that opinion. It determined that the proposed ballot measure "on its face" does not appear to significantly alter state law. Consequently, "[Plaintiff[s] had a clear legal right to the placement of the initiative on the ballot," the court ruled.

On Tuesday, Krystal Crittendon, corporation counsel for the Detroit law department, said the city plans to file an appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court. It is not yet clear whether the appeals process will further delay a public vote on the measure, which had been scheduled for August 2012.

For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel, at (202) 483-5500 or visit: