Detroit City Marijuana Legalization (November 2010)

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A Detroit City Marijuana Legalization measure was going to be on the November 2, 2010 ballot in the city of Detroit which is in Wayne County, but was later removed.

Thought this measure had been approved by city officials, it was later removed. Following a recommendation by the city lawyer, the election commission voted to take it off the ballot. They stated that state law says marijuana is illegal so there would have been issues with a city law saying it was legal.[1]

Through a petition process, city residents had successfully gained the required 6,000 plus signatures needed to push this issue onto a referendum vote. The signatures were validated May 19 by the county clerk and the city council has 30 days to make the decision to add this measure to the November ballot or enact it into law. The future goal was to have a state wide vote that legalizes marijuana.[2] While proponents believed it would save the city money if the council just enacted that law, it was instead to be given over for voter approval. The law would have allowed those over the age of 21 to posses no more than 1 ounce of pot legally.[3] If approved, Detroit would have joined many other cities that have passed progressive marijuana laws in absence of federal regulation. Further marijuana questions will be voted on in different states throughout this year's election cycle.[4]

The city council members voted not to take action on the measure, meaning they were going to allow the voters to have their say at the November election. Proponents noted that it would have allowed for the police to arrest people for more serious crimes now.[5] The city had been deciding on the language for the ballot measure. The issue about the legality of the proposed measures was still in question, even though city law could allow possession state law would still consider it illegal. Constitutional challenges had been expected, more so depending on what language for the ballot is decided on.[6]

Lawsuit issues

Those who backed the petition to get this issue on the ballot took the issue up with the court, who decided to expedite the issue so that it could still make it to the November ballot if approved. Proponents had assumed there would be legal issues so were prepared to take up the battle in court when they heard that the council had removed it from the ballot. The court had the decision whether or not the issue would be voted on.[7]

The State Supreme Court ruled around June 1, 2012 that the measure must be placed on the ballot for voter consideration.

The measure was first taken to the circuit court where they ruled with the city. An appeal was then made to the Court of Appeals which sided with the petitioners. The city then in turn appealed to the Supreme Court which denied that appeal, meaning the circuit ruling stood. Though the election date is not set, it likely will end up on the November ballot, according to reports.

Additional reading