Detroit voters who were hoping to vote on a ballot proposal which would legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana may have to keep waiting.
The City of Detroit plans to file an appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court, likely delaying attempts to place the measure on the August primary ballot, according to Krystal Crittendon, corporation counsel for the city’s law department, reports Jonathan Oosting at MLive.com.
The Michigan Court of Appeals had ruled 2-1 last week that Detroit acted illegally in keeping the proposal off the ballot despite the fact that organizers collected far more signatures than needed to put the question before the city’s voters.
The city had argued that they could not enact an ordinance that conflicts with state law and, therefore, could not place the “symbolic” initiative on the ballot.
|Detroit organizer Tim Beck: “The City of Detroit has so few resources to deal with real crime … we don’t have time for this”
But in their majority opinion, judges Henry Saad and Elizabeth Gleicher wrote that the Detroit Election Commission had a “clear legal duty” to put the proposal before voters, noting that the city could then challenge the legality of the measure if it is approved by voters.
“We respectfully disagree with the Court of Appeals,” Crittendon told MLive.com Tuesday morning, saying that a trial court judge had previously upheld the city’s position.
The ballot proposal, put forth by The Coalition for a Safer Detroit, would have amended the city code to legalize possession of less than an ounce of marijuana by adults on private property.
The coalition acknowledged that state and federal law both trump city ordinances. As a result, Detroit police would still be empowered to arrest residents for marijuana possession under state law if they chose.
But approval of the proposal would send a message to city officials, according to organizer Tim Beck, who previously spearheaded Michigan’s medical marijuana referendum in 2008.
“The City of Detroit has so few resources to deal with real crime — robbery, murder, vandalism, breaking and entering — we don’t have time for this,” Beck said last week of enforcing the marijuana laws.