Detroit Suburbs Vote on Marijuana Decriminalization Tuesday


keith Bacongo-Flickr edited by Toke of the Town.

While the national focus this week is on recreational marijuana measures in Alaska, Oregon and Washington D.C. and a medical proposal in Florida, voters in Michigan could be making small steps at the local level to end marijuana prohibition.
Marijuana proposals that would decriminalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by either removing the ordinances altogether or decriminalizing them to a “lowest enforcement priority” are going before voters in eleven different municipalities – including three in the metro Detroit area.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the proposals in Berkley and Huntington Woods would represent the biggest changes by eliminating all penalties for adults 21 and up who possess marijuana on “non-public private property”. Nearby Pleasant Ridge doesn’t even have a ban on marijuana on their books, but changes would make the enforcement of any marijuana laws a low priority. The small, urban-Detroit communities are following the lead of voters in Ferndale, Hazel Park and Oak Park who passed similar measures last year.
The changes won’t be truly legalizing anything, as it’s still illegal to buy, sell and grow herb for recreational purposes in Michigan – but it helps curb law enforcement abuse of power, stops the criminalizing of young adults for small amounts of pot and sends a message that marijuana shouldn’t be a high law enforcement priority.
But, of course, you’ve got plenty of opposition.
Judy Rubin, director of a substance abuse program in the area, says the law changes trouble her.
“Hopefully, people will vote no and this issue will die,” she told the Free Press.”I don’t want to see any marijuana use in our communities.”
In Ferndale, where pot possession of small amounts was approved by voters last year, the cops just ignored them and enforced state laws instead.
Supporters say that lawmakers will have to start paying attention as more communities pass similar pro-pot ordinances.