Relaxed marijuana laws pass in 5 Michigan cities including Detroit

Relaxed marijuana laws pass in Kalamazoo, Flint, Grand Rapids, Ypsilanti, Detroit


People who carry the torch for relaxed marijuana laws feel the momentum in Michigan after Tuesday's election.

Grand Rapids will now treat marijuana possession as a civil offense. Kalamazoo will have up to three dispensaries. Flint will let people 19 years old and older have small amounts of marijuana.

Ypsilanti police will treat pot as its lowest priority and under a redrawn Detroit ordinance people 21 and older can have an ounce or less of marijuana in their home or car.

Detroit City Councilmember James Tate opposes the change.

"It stigmatizes to the point where young people and those who are unemployed use it thinking job opportunities will not see this as a deterrent," Tate said. "You gotta remember, pretty much every employer still drug tests."

Tim Beck spearheaded the vote on the relaxed drug laws. He says the change will make employment easier for about 1,500 people each year. Those people would otherwise have a misdemeanor on their record. However, they will still have to undergo a drug test if requested by the employer.

"All they gotta do is quit and within about three weeks they'll be clean," said Beck.

Both sides agree that possession of marijuana is still illegal under state and federal law. Beck believes arrests will plummet because fines would no longer go to the city of Detroit. The Michigan pot

proposals all were approved by margins of at least 60 percent.

"Our next move, with all these wins here in Michigan, we got a very good case to present to the legislature," Beck said.

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