Grand Rapids City Commissioners Approve Marijuana Reform Ballot Language

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Decriminalize Grand Rapids Gets One Step Closer

Cities like Springfield, Missouri are getting fed up with the pace of marijuana reform at the state and federal level and are taking matters into their own hands. It appears that the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan will be joining them. Grand Rapids City Commissioners approved city charter amendment language today that would make marijuana possession of marijuana a civil instead of a criminal infraction within city limits. Decriminalize Grand Rapids has collected the required 6,565 valid signatures to put the question on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Jack Hoffman, the attorney representing Decriminalize Grand Rapids, "said the proposed Grand Rapids ordinance is modeled after Ann Arbor's 38-year-old ordinance, with the exception that the local law would not decriminalize the sale of marijuana." according to Wood TV. The Michigan Attorney General's office still has to approve the language too, but it appears that voters will get their chance to bring marijuana reform to Grand Rapids.

"It's unclear what the impact will be," City Attorney Catherine Mish said according to MLive. "We'd have to study what our response would be, should this pass (at the polls). We would have to have long discussions with the police department about how to enforce this." One thing is clear - current marijuana laws have failed, and change is clearly needed. I wish every municipality in America was doing what Grand Rapids is doing. I encourage all readers to follow suit in their area!

Below is the full language of the Decriminalize Grand Rapids city charter amendment:

A proposal to amend the Grand Rapids City Charter, Title XVIII Miscellaneous Provisions; by adding Section 296; Restrictions of Marijuana as follows:

(a) No person shall possess, control, use, or give away marijuana or cannabis, which is defined as all parts of the plant cannabis sativa l., whether growing or not; its seeds or resin; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the above, unless such possession, control, or use is pursuant to a license or prescription as provided in Public Act 196 of 1971, as amended. This definition does not include the mature stalks of the plant, fiber produced from the stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of the plant, any other compounds, manufacture, sale, derivative, mixture or preparation of the mature stalks, except the resin extracted therefrom, fiber, oil or cake, or the sterilized seed of the plant which is incapable of germination.

(b) Violations of this section shall be civil infractions. Persons convicted of violating this section shall be fined $25.00 for the first offense, $50.00 for the second offense, $100.00 for the third or subsequent offense and no incarceration, probation, nor any other punitive or rehabilitative measure shall be imposed. Fines and all other costs shall be waived upon proof that the defendant is recommended by a physician, practitioner or other qualified health professional to use or provide the marijuana or cannabis for medical treatment. The court may waive all or part of the fine upon proof that the defendant attended a substance abuse program. It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution under this section that the use or intended use of the marijuana or cannabis relieves, or has the potential to relieve, the pain, disability, discomfort or other adverse symptoms of illness or medical treatment, or restores, maintains or improves, or has the potential to restore, maintain or improve, the health or medical quality of life of the user or intended user or users of the marijuana or cannabis. Requirements of this subjection shall not be construed to exclude the assertion of other defenses.

(c) In all arrests and prosecutions for violations of this section, appearance tickets and the relevant procedures set forth in Michigan Public Act 147 of 1968, as amended, shall be used.

(d) No Grand Rapids police officer, or his or her agent, shall complain of the possession, control, use, or giving away of marijuana or cannabis to any other authority except the Grand Rapids City Attorney; and the City Attorney shall not refer any said complaint to any other authority for prosecution.

(e) No Grand Rapids police officer, or his or her agent, shall complain and the City Attorney shall not refer for prosecution any complaint, of the possession, control, use, giving away, or cultivation of marijuana or cannabis upon proof that the defendant is recommended by a physician, practitioner or other qualified health professional to use or provide the marijuana or cannabis for medical treatment.

(f) Should the State of Michigan enact lesser penalties than that set forth in subsection (b) above, or entirely repeal penalties for the possession, control, use, or giving away of marijuana or cannabis, then this section, or the relevant portions thereof, shall be null and void.

(g) The people of the City of Grand Rapids specifically determine that the provisions herein contained concerning marijuana or cannabis are necessary to serve the local purposes of providing just and equitable legal treatment of the citizens of this community, and in particular of the youth of this community present as college students or otherwise; and to provide for the public peace and safety by preserving the respect of such citizens for the law and law enforcement agencies of the City.

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