Michigan: Municipalities Ignoring Voters’ Will Regarding Marijuana Liberalization Measures

Michigan: Municipalities Ignoring Voter's Will Regarding Marijuana Liberalization MeasuresDetroit, MI: Elected officials in Detroit and other Michigan cities have failed to implement local citizens’ initiatives that seek to amend municipal marijuana laws.

On Election Day, voters in four cities – totaling over a million people – decided in favor of municipal initiatives to legalize or depenalize the adult use of cannabis. Sixty-five percent of Detroit voters 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, 54 percent of 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. Sixty percent of 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. 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.

Nonetheless, in the two months following these votes, city lawmakers have largely failed to implement any changes in law, according to a report in the Detroit Free Press. Stated Detroit attorney Matt Abel, a member of the NORML Legal Committee, "I think we’re seeing the citizens of the largest cities in Michigan trying to send a message to our leaders – it’s time to decriminalize marijuana in our state – but I don’t know if they’re getting the message."

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500 or Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org.