Drug charges may be on the decrease in Lansing after a ballot proposal decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana was passed earlier this month. The proposal amends the city charter and legalizes the possession, use, and transfer of an ounce of marijuana on private property by persons 21 and older. The proposal passed by nearly 63 percent of Lansing voters and is part of a growing trend in Michigan where cities are decriminalizing the personal use of small amounts of marijuana.
Ferndale and Jackson both passed similar measures to Lansing by updating an ordinance. Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint, and Ypsilanti all passed measures last year reforming marijuana regulation. Last year, Kalamazoo adopted an ordinance that made possession of marijuana a misdemeanor subject to smaller fines and lesser sentences. Since the 1970s, Ann Arbor users face small fines for a civil infraction. Support for decriminalization appears to be strong in Michigan-- one poll showed that 47 percent of likely voters favored taxing and regulating it similar to alcohol. Of 600 of the voters surveyed, only 26 percent were in favor of continuing the system as is.
Even in cities where small amounts have been decriminalized, it is unclear how it will affect enforcement since marijuana remains illegal under both state and federal law. Prior to the vote, a Lansing councilperson was quoted as saying the ballot initiative "means nothing" as Lansing follows state law. But the chairman of the organization that got the amendment on the ballot opined that local police will deal with marijuana enforcement, rather than Michigan State Police. While the Lansing mayor is in support of the newly passed initiative, the state's Attorney General claims he will ignore the recent vote and continue to enforce existing state and federal laws.
Whether charged under federal, state, or local law, drug charges can carry severe consequences if convicted. It is imperative to secure an experienced criminal defense attorney to assure fair and proper treatment in the criminal justice system. Contact our office today for a free telephone consultation.