Michigan Cops Ponder Detroit Marijuana Legalization Voteby Phillip Smith
Dec. 14, 2012
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Voters in Detroit overwhelmingly approved legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults on private property in last month's elections, but according to Michigan Live, local law enforcement agencies are either uncertain what to do or are fully prepared to ignore the will of the voters.
None of the law enforcement agencies contacted by Michigan Live said they had instructed their officers to stop citing or arresting people for pot possession in the city. Some agencies were set to ignore the Detroit ordinance, while others were not sure how they would respond.
State Police spokesman Lt. Mike Shaw said the ordinance would have no impact on its enforcement policies. If state police catch you with marijuana, he said, you will be cited with misdemeanor possession charges and be looking at up to a year in jail.
"We donít enforce local ordinances, so nothing has changed for us," Shaw said. "Marijuana is still illegal for us according to state law. Anyone who doesn't have a medical marijuana card will be arrested for state possession."
The Detroit Police Department isn't sure what it will do.
"This legislation is being reviewed by the city of Detroit Law Department," said Detroit Police Sgt. Eren Stephens of the Public Information Office.
Neither is the Wayne County Sheriff's Office.
"We have not developed a policy yet on that issue," said sheriff's spokesman Dennis Niemiec. "Itís being looked at by our training and legal departments."
The Wayne State University Police Department, which patrols the campus and some surrounding neighborhoods hasn't figured out yet how to respond, either.
"We have not come up with an official policy," said Chief Anthony Holt. "Itís a federal law regarding (marijuana possession) so it's probably something weíll have to get an opinion on. But it's not a real big priority for us now."
And even though the measure passed by a margin of 65% to 35%, Detroit City Council members remain adamantly opposed to implementing the will of the voters.
Possession of marijuana is "still illegal" under state and federal law, Councilwoman Brenda Jones told the Detroit Free Press. "We will not be writing an ordinance that says something that's illegal is legal."
"It was really a waste or our time," said City Council President Charles Pugh.
Perhaps in the next election, Detroit voters will find that reelecting people like Jones and Pugh is a waste of their time.