The “patchwork” of marijuana laws across the state of Michigan could soon be influenced by a new state law, one that would effectively reduce penalties for possession of pot no matter where in the state you reside. Supported by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, the legislation has a fighting chance.
According to MLive.com, state lawmaker Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) introduced the bill and spoke at a press conference just this week.
“We know, and the people here in Michigan know, that marijuana prohibition is not working,” he said. “Despite the fact that we’re spending a minimum of $325 million a year on arresting, trying, and incarcerating marijuana users in this state, we know marijuana has never been more available.”
People want their marijuana. And the laws of the state are not doing anything to squash this demand. It is this demand that led to several cities passing their own decriminalization ordinances this past fall. And now the state may follow suit.
If passed, the decriminalization law would make it a civil infraction to be caught with up to an ounce of marijuana. This means, you would not be subject to arrest and would not have a “record” for possession. Instead, it would come with a fine. Period.
Other lawmakers have already signaled their support, including some Republicans and Democrats alike. The law would be a smart move and no one can argue that marijuana enforcement, as is, is having any positive effects.
“Alcohol prohibition also didn’t work,” said Irwin. “And when we adopted a more sane, and may I say sober policy for alcohol, we were better able to control it and keep it out of the hands of our children.”
“This is nothing radical,” said Tim Beck of the Coalition for a Safer Michigan. “We’d only be doing what a lot of very sensible legislators and voters have done in other states.”
As a matter of fact, an estimated 17 states have passed some sort of decriminalization law. In Washington and Colorado, that decriminalization led to all-out legalization, something Michigan isn’t ready for.
Under the new law, possession of marijuana would carry a $25 fine. A second offense would carry a $50 fine. And a third offense would carry a $75 fine. You can express your support for the bill on the NORML website, sending an email to your local legislator.
Until the resolution of this bill, however, laws remain the same in Michigan—largely disjointed. If you are accused of a marijuana offense, contact our offices today to discuss your case and how we might be able to help.