MICHIGAN: Proponents of legalizing marijuana in Michigan said they’ve collected enough signatures in Ferndale and Jackson to let voters make marijuana possession in those cities no worse than getting a traffic ticket.
On Tuesday morning, organizers plan to hand the petition signatures to city clerks in Ferndale and Jackson, aiming to put so-called decrim — or decriminalization — proposals on city ballots in November, said Tim Beck, chairman of the Coalition for a Safer Michigan, a marijuana legalization group.
“There is no doubt that we have enough signatures,” Beck said Monday night. “We have pre-verified every one of them. And our surveys (of voters) show this is going to pass,” said Beck, 61, of Detroit. He is the retired CEO of an employee health-care insurance firm and has helped organize political campaigns involving marijuana for more than a dozen years, he said.
If the proposals pass, they would put city ordinances on the books that reduce possession of marijuana to a civil infraction from the current misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to a year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine, said Beck, who heads Coalition for a Safer Michigan.
Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint, Ypsilanti, Grand Rapids, and Kalamazoo already have passed similar ordinances — as have 17 states — according to the Web site of the Marijuana Policy Project, a lobby group for legalization. State and federal law still makes marijuana illegal throughout Michigan, but it is believed that police are less likely to make arrests for possession in cities that have decriminalized the drug because “they know the voters have spoken,” Beck said.