While marijuana laws are in a state of flux all across the country, the situation in Michigan is even more chaotic and confusing. City ordinances differ wildly in the prosecution of marijuana possession, which is likely in conflict with state laws, and certainly federal law as well.
As shown in the Metro Times, the state is a virtual quilt of marijuana laws and ordinances with varying levels of enforcement and punishment. What flies in one city, may not be okay in the suburbs.
While the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act passed in 2008 to let some patients have access to marijuana as a medicine, that’s probably the most uniform marijuana law to pass in recent years. While entire states like Colorado legalize recreational marijuana, our state is taking on pot prohibition city by city.
In Detroit, for example, residents aged 21 and older can possess up to one ounce of marijuana. While the ordinance doesn’t set up dispensaries, the black market seems to be doing what it always has there—supplying for the demand.
In Ann Arbor, things changed long before this latest wave of marijuana activism. Way back in 1972, the City Council passed an ordinance reducing the penalty for marijuana possession of less than 2 ounces to a $5 fine. While the find has risen with the times and is now $50, the city certainly has one of the more lenient marijuana laws on the books.
Flint saw an initiative pass last November that would decriminalize less than one ounce of marijuana. However, immediately after the votes were tallied, the city’s police department announced they wouldn’t honor it and would instead execute arrests as they always had—under state and federal laws.
Kalamazoo also voted to decriminalize possession of marijuana last November. Adults there caught with up to one ounce of pot will only typically be hit with a $100 fine for their first offense.
Voters in Ypsilanti took a slightly different approach by voting to make marijuana enforcement the “Lowest Law Enforcement Priority” in that town.
In Grand Rapids, residents caught with small amounts of marijuana are only penalized with a $25 fine for a first offense.
Several other cities are taking on marijuana laws this November, using those with already-passed ordinances as role models. Still, marijuana remains against state law and federal laws too. This means no matter where you are in the state, if law enforcement wants to enforce those stiffer marijuana laws, they can. But you can fight those charges in a court of law.
If you are facing drug possession charges in the state of Michigan, we may be able to help. Contact us today for a consultation on your case.