The issue of decriminalizing the possession and use of small amounts of marijuana will be put to the voters in three Michigan communities this fall. Or, maybe not.
The ballot language proposes to empower all adults 21 and over with the right to legally use and possess marijuana on private property within city limits. The same or similar language was adopted into law by voters in Detroit, Grand Rapids and Flint in 2012. In each city- Lansing, Ferndale and Jackson- petitioners have gathered enough signatures to place the issue before the voters in November of 2013.
The petition process involves verification of signatures, followed by an opportunity to adopt the measure by city council without a vote of the people. Should any of the three city councils adopt the language, no November vote will be taken in that city.
In Ferndale the signatures were verified and the city council met on Monday, August 12. Council was faced with the option of embracing this issue or sending it to the voters; in a 4-1 decision they declined to adopt the language on their own. Councilpersons expressed concern over the use of the term 'private property' in the ballot language. During the Detroit campaign to decriminalize marijuana, that same ballot language was challenged by the Detroit Elections Commission all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court. The Court ordered Detroit to place the language, unadjusted, on the ballot.
In Jackson, petition drive organizer Steve Sharpe announced that the city has verified enough signatures to place the issue before the voters. Their city council will have the option of adopting the ballot proposal but, like Ferndale, resistance is expected.
Jackson has given their medical marijuana patients a rough ride. The city council has repeatedly tried to adopt ordinances restricting patient access. After prosecutors closed all the distribution centers in the county, the council has tried to restrict caregiving activities by legal and licensed marijuana gardeners by limiting the amount of space within their home devoted to the garden to only 20%. A protest by patients, caregivers and supporters was slated for 4 pm, August 13, at the Jackson City Hall in advance of a second reading of the proposed ordinance by the council this evening at 6:30.
Sharpe said, "There is a possibility that they will consider the ballot proposal, but it has been confirmed that they will be voting on the ordinance at the council meeting tonight." Sharpe cautiously opined that the consensus among marijuana activists in the area is that the ordinance will likely be voted down.
Source: The Compassion Chronicles