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Grand Rapids Considers Marijuana Decriminalization This November

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The City Commission approved ballot language for a marijuana proposal that voters will have a say on in November.  Deciminalize GR is a pro marijuana advocat and the major force behind marijuana law reform in Grand Rapids.  The verbage introduced to the ballot would make the possession and use of marijuana a civil infraction.  If passed, the bill would prohibit Grand Rapids police from prosecuting violaters under state law.

According to an article on MLive.com, the City Arrorney Catherine Mish said, “It’s unclear what the impact will be,” Mish continued by saying, “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. The (proposed civil infraction) fines are so small. That doesn’t cover the cost (of prosecution).”

Deciminalize GR submitted a petition signed by more than 10,000 people in support of the change in policy.  Yesterday, the City Clerk’s office varified that at their were enough valid signatures to get the proposal on the ballot.

The City Commission does not have any legal authority to keep the proposal off the ballot.  Catherine Mish was asked to write up the proposal:

PROPOSAL 2 PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO TITLE XVIII (MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS) OF THE CHARTER OF THE CITY OF GRAND RAPIDS, CONCERNING THE DECRIMINALIZATION OF MARIJUANAA proposal to decriminalize possession, control, use, or gift of marijuana, through a Charter amendment prohibiting police from reporting same to law enforcement authorities other than the City Attorney; prohibiting the City Attorney from referring same to other law enforcement authorities for prosecution; prohibiting City prosecution except as civil infractions enforced by appearance tickets with a maximum fine of $100.00 and no incarceration; waiving fines if a physician, practitioner or other qualified health professional recommends the defendant use marijuana; and providing an affirmative defense to prosecution for defendants intending to use marijuana to relieve pain, disability, or discomfort.

Shall this amendment be adopted?

According to Decriminalize GR, the proposal (if approved) could save Kent County an estimated $2.5 million a year in marijuana enforcement and prosecution.  According to MLive, the proposal would change the law so that a first time offender would be fined $25.  Second offenders would recieve a harsher penalty of $50, and finally a third time offender would receive a $100 fine.


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