Michigan Cities Consider Removing Penalties for Marijuana
WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the polls in Michigan close, results from elections in five cities will reveal if the local residents of four cities support initiatives that would make marijuana violations the lowest law enforcement priority. In one city, voters will decide if medical marijuana dispensaries should be allowed. Similar measures have been suggested throughout Michigan as communities are faced with shortages of law enforcement resources and contention over the rules to govern medical marijuana dispensaries.
"Between 2004 and 2007, voters in five Michigan cities approved medical marijuana measures, paving the way for the compassionate statewide vote in 2008," said Karen O'Keefe, a Michigan native who is the director of state policies at the Marijuana Policy Project. "Now, voters in five Michigan cities have a chance to once again lead the way for the state by standing up for sensible marijuana policies."
"Voters in Grand Rapids, Flint, Detroit, and Ypsilanti have the chance to direct their cities not to waste police officers' time and jail space on arresting and locking up their fellow citizens for using a substance that is less harmful than alcohol," said Ms. O'Keefe.
Meanwhile, Kalamazoo voters are deciding whether to allow up to three medical marijuana dispensaries in the city. When Michigan's medical marijuana law was enacted in 2008, no states had state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. Since then, the trend has been for laws to include regulated access through dispensaries. All four of the state medical marijuana laws enacted since 2008 have included regulated dispensaries, and four states' existing laws were amended to include regulated dispensaries.