Officials Don't Expect Much To Change After Marijuana Rally - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

Supporters Push To Legalize Pot, Officials Say It Won't Change Much

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) - Nearly a year ago, Washington state and Colorado ruled to legalize recreational marijuana use. Now a group in Michigan wants the Michigan legislatures to follow suit.

Organizers held a rally Tuesday on the steps of the capitol with a message for lawmakers that de-criminalization isn't enough. They say the want Michigan's legislature to consider full legalization.

State lawmakers haven't taken up the issue of recreational pot, but voters in Lansing will have the chance to weigh in on the issue come November. Even though it's slated to be on the ballot, some Lansing officials question whether the initiative will have any real effect, even if voters do pass it into law.

In August, the Safer Michigan Coalition made Lansing it's latest target on a list of Michigan cities to launch a petition legalizing the use, possession and transfer of small amounts of marijuana.

"The idea is that this will improve safety in the City of Lansing by one allowing police to focus on real crimes. Second of all people die from the drug war every day. People don't die from the use of marijuana," said Jeffrey Hank, an attorney and supporter.

Hank told 6 News a few weeks ago that it's a waste of police resources to pursue small-time marijuana offenses. "Police won't waste their time hassling people for little things," he said.

The coalition collected 6,000 signatures, well over the required amount, so the petition will appear on the ballot.

"Well, I'm not sure that it accomplished very much," said City Clerk Chris Swope. he says the language on the initiative says Lansing "shall not pass" any ordinance that limits use and possession of pot one ounce or less, but says the are no city laws that even mention marijuana.

"We already don't have anything under our code of ordinances that specifically addresses it. We're already working under state law," said Swope.

And even if the initiative passes, Swope says Lansing Police can continue to enforce state law when it comes to pot. "It says we can't have a local ordinance addressing it. It also prevents us from having a local ordinance that would tell police not to enforce the state law."

Despite that claim, Hank says this is one more step toward statewide legalization.

Swope says because the ballot initiative prevents Lansing from passing any ordinance that addresses marijuana, it also prevents the city from passing laws that may legally give pot users more leeway.

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