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Despite Vote, Police Say Mj Still Illegal In Ferndale

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US MI: Despite Vote, Pot Still Illegal In Ferndale, Police


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URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v13/n537/a08.html

Newshawk: Michigan NORML http://www.minorml.org

Votes: 0

Pubdate: Thu, 07 Nov 2013

Source: Daily Tribune, The (Royal Oak, MI)

Copyright: 2013 The Daily Tribune

Contact: editor@dailytribune.com

Website: http://www.dailytribune.com/

Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/1579

Author: Michael P. McConnell

Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/find?275 (Cannabis - Michigan)




Even though pro-marijuana activists see victory in Ferndale's vote to legalize small amounts of cannabis on private property, the city's police chief says pot users can still face charges under state law.


The new ordinance says the use, possession or transfer of less than an ounce of marijuana on private property is legal for those 21 or older.


"Our job does not change," Police Chief Timothy Collins said.


Collins said his department has not had a single case of arresting or charging anyone for having or using a small amount of marijuana in their homes in at least three years.


But that doesn't mean it couldn't happen, depending on the circumstances, despite the new ordinance.


"If our officers are in a place they are legally allowed to be and see someone smoking marijuana they will take action," Collins said.  "If we found ourselves in that situation we would use state law."


Outside of medical marijuana use in Michigan, state and federal laws still prohibit the use and possession of any amount of marijuana.  Violation of the state law is a one-year misdemeanor.


"It is state law and we are not empowered to simply not enforce it," Collins said.  "In fact, we are sworn to uphold state law."


The marijuana measure passed in Ferndale on Tuesday by nearly 70 percent of those who cast ballots.  Just over 22 percent of registered Ferndale voters turned out for the election, well above the average 14 percent turnout for local elections in the city.


Similar marijuana proposals were passed Tuesday in Jackson and Lansing under the guidance of Safer Michigan, a statewide marijuana advocacy group headed by Tim Beck of Detroit.


"These kinds of ordinances create confusion and conflict between local and state laws and that's exactly our goal," Beck said Wednesday.  "These ordinances get people's attention and we're hoping it results in the state Legislature passing a bill to decriminalize marijuana like they do in 17 other states."


Beck said he is puzzled why Ferndale law enforcement, or the City Council which sets policy and oversees the police department, would want to ignore the will of 70 percent of their voters.  In states and communities that have legalized marijuana the message is that voters want law enforcement to focus on other illegal activities, Beck said.


"In Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor, which have decriminalized marijuana, they are bucking the state law right now," Beck said.  "What they are saying is we don't have time for activities that shouldn't even be a crime."


Mayor Dave Coulter, who was reelected Tuesday and opposed the local marijuana ordinance, said the issue should be addressed at the state or federal level.


"I don't think enforcement will change in Ferndale as a result of this ordinance," he said.  "This ordinance is largely symbolic because it cannot trump state and federal law.  I think our voters sent a clear message to Lansing, but at the local level we can't really change the state's drug laws."


Former Mayor Craig Covey was an active spokesman for the marijuana campaign in Ferndale.  The city's police should follow the example of other communities that have legalized small amount of marijuana on private property and not pursue state charges when such cases come up, he said.


"We're not the first city to do this and we're not the last," Covey said.  "The era of marijuana prohibition is coming to an end, even though the state and federal laws are still there."

MAP posted-by: Matt

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Collins said his department has not had a single case of arresting or charging anyone for having or using a small amount of marijuana in their homes in at least three years.


i call shenanigans on this. not one marijuana charge in 3 years? baloney!

hell, they even raided the guy who brought the marijuana petition to the city to be voted on.


what a liar.

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