Over 20 Cities Will Vote Whether to Depenalize Marijuana This Fall

In Michigan, voters in over a dozen municipalities – including Saginaw (population 51,000), East Lansing (population 49,000), Port Huron (population 30,000) and Oak Park (population 29,000) – will decide on local measures to eliminate citywide penalties that prohibit the possession, transfer, or use of cannabis on private property by adults for non-medical purposes. Voters in another Michigan city, Utica (population 5,000), will also decide on separate language seeking to deprioritize the enforcement of minor marijuana offenses by local police.

All of the measures are sponsored by the Safer Michigan Coalition and are part of the group’s long-term strategy to incrementally change the state’s marijuana laws – city by city, if necessary. In past years, voters several of the state’s largest cities, including Detroit (population 700,00), Grand Rapids (population 191,000), and Lansing (population 114,000) enacted similar measures. Earlier this month, voters in two more municipalities, Oak Park (population 30,000) and Hazel Park (population 17,000), approved similar ordinances. Long-time Michigan marijuana law reform activist Tim Beck speculates that a clean sweep at the ballot box in November is “probably going to be the tipping point for Michigan to become a decriminalized state.”

In 2013, state lawmakers in the Michigan House and Senate introduced bipartisan legislation seeking to decriminalize the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis. To date, however, legislators in both chambers have refused to move the bill. Under state law, the possession of any amount of cannabis by non-patients is classified as a criminal offense punishable by up to one-year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

– Read the entire article at AlterNet.