While the country is becoming a patchwork of marijuana laws, our state is seeing greater variances from city to city than anywhere else. Just last week, three cities decided to pass their own marijuana legislation, making it legal for residents to possess recreational pot.
Last year it was Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint, and Ypsilanti. This year, Lansing, Ferndale, and Jackson followed suit.
Ferndale, a suburb of Detroit saw 69% of support for its measure. In Jackson, 61% of voters supported the legalization measure and 63% voted for it in Lansing, the state capital.
Both Ferndale and Jackson passed ordinances. In Lansing, the vote made a change to the city charter. In all three it is now legal under local law for adults 21 years and older to possess one ounce or less of marijuana on private property.
“The public is far ahead of most politicians on this issue, as evidenced by the overwhelming support for medical marijuana when it was on the statewide ballot several years ago, as well as the decriminalization of small quantities of marijuana in cities like Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint and Grand Rapids,” said Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero before the vote. “It is just a matter of time before other cities, including Lansing, either follow suit or go one step further, as this proposal would do.”
Recreational marijuana is still illegal under state and federal law. So while cities around Michigan are passing their own ordinances, lawmakers at the state and federal levels aren’t convinced it’s the best idea.
Just a few months ago, a poll found 47 percent of likely voters in the state would support a measure to legalize and tax recreational marijuana statewide. Sixteen percent said changes should be made that make possession of marijuana punishable by a fine rather than criminal charges. Only 26% of those surveyed said the existing system was working.
Both Colorado and Washington states are in the process of setting up their state systems for regulating recreational marijuana. Voters in both states legalized pot last year. For their part, the federal government said it would operate a sort of hands-off policy as long as the states followed good protocol in regulating the marijuana and keeping it in-state and in the hands of adults rather than children.
While Michigan is taking a unique approach to legalization—passing laws in one city at a time—it could be the catalyst for statewide legalization at a later date.
In the meantime, if you are charged with a marijuana offense in the state of Michigan, you may want the help of a local defense lawyer. Call today for a consultation.