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Michigan advocates continuing push to legalize marijuana

The effort to decriminalize marijuana in Michigan will continue at the ballot box this fall. Pro-legalization activists, encouraged by the passage of symbolic proposals in several cities in the state, including Detroit, are hoping to give more voters the chance to express their support for the cause.

To get on the ballot in places like East Lansing and several other, smaller cities, volunteers are gathering signatures. They also plan to rent billboards and other advertising to spread the word.

The proposals do not have the force of law, and the police chiefs of Detroit and Ferndale, whose citizens have passed decriminalization proposals, have sworn their forces will continue arresting people on suspicion of marijuana possession -- as long as the law tells them to.

The proposals ask lawmakers to make possession of small amounts of marijuana legal, or decriminalize it so that the penalty is similar to a traffic ticket. As readers in Michigan know, voters passed a medical marijuana law in 2008. Whether a change in the law for recreational marijuana would also end up as a referendum remains to be seen.

Besides trying to put proposals on the ballot, advocates are putting up candidates for statewide office. If these candidates have a strong showing in August primaries or the November elections, it could be another message to the powers that be that Michigan residents are ready to ease up on the state’s drug laws when it comes to marijuana.

For now at least, those laws are still in full force. Depending on your criminal history and other factors, a conviction for marijuana possession could lead to serious penalties, including jail or prison time.

Source: Lansing State Journal, “Marijuana activists prepare for new campaigns in Michigan, including East Lansing,” Bill Laitner, March 18, 2014

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