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Detroit City Marijuana Decriminalization Question (November 2012)

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A Detroit City Marijuana Decriminalization Question was on the November 6, 2012 ballot in the city of Detroit, which is in Wayne County, where it was approved.

This measure removed penalties for adults over the age of 21 if they are in possession of 1 ounce of marijuana or less.[1] Marijuana is still illegal in the state. Opponents to the measure noted that the court's ruling allowing for this initiative was not in favor of marijuana but rather in favor of allowing democracy and the initiative process to proceed.[2][3]

Election results

Detroit City Proposal M
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 157,562 65%
No85,64035%

Election results from Detroit City Website, Election Results for Wayne County

Text of measure

Language on the ballot:

Shall Chapter 38, Offenses, Miscellaneous Provisions, Article XL, Controlled Substances and Drug Paraphernalia, of the 1984 Detroit City Code be amended to exempt adults, 21 years of age or older, from criminal prosecution under the article for use or possession of less than one (1) ounce of marijuana on private property in the City of Detroit by adding the following section:

Sec. 38-11-50. Applicability.

None of the provisions of this article shall apply to the use or possession of less than one (1) ounce of marijuana, on private property, by a person who has attained the age of 21 years.[3][4]


Support

Those in favor of this measure noted that it would save the city money fighting low level marijuana possession crimes. The main group behind this measure, Coalition for a Safer Detroit stated that if this measure was approved police officers could focus on more important crimes and not have to deal with marijuana possession which is a low level of crime.[5]

Opposition

City council member Ken Cockrel Jr. noted his opposition to the measure, stating that in his opinion it would send the wrong message to companies and investors who may be looking to come to the city. He also stated that the high unemployment in the city could lend to further recreational use of marijuana if possession of 1 ounce would not get a person arrested. Police officials countered that they would not have to enforce marijuana possession laws in the city since there still are state laws which make it illegal.[5]

Path to the ballot

City residents had collected over 6,000 signatures in 2010 to put this measure on the city ballot but the clerk refused to put it up for a vote. The reasoning behind the refusal was that the measure would conflict with state drug laws which make marijuana illegal. Supporters then too the measure to court where an appellate court ruled in February that the city was wrong to deny the petition a place on the ballot. An appeal was made to the Michigan supreme court where they confirmed the original ruling, that the city must allow the issue to be voted on.[1]

Additional reading

References