DETROIT (AP) — Eleven cities across Michigan and one county have been targeted by pro-marijuana activists seeking ballot initiatives to legalize or decriminalize small amounts of marijuana for personal use.
Efforts to collect signatures from residents are underway in Saginaw, Mount Pleasant, East Lansing, Oak Park, Port Huron, Lapeer, Utica, Hazel Park, Clare, Onaway and Harrison and in Benzie County, said Tim Beck, co-founder of Safer Michigan Coalition.
Beck said Wednesday that he expects some initiatives will be on August primary ballots, while others will appear in November general elections. Additional cities also may be targeted.
"This is a grass roots effort and anything can happen in the weeks ahead," he said.
Last year, voters in Ferndale, Jackson and Lansing approved proposals that call on local police not to arrest people for marijuana possession if they are found with an ounce or less of the drug, are at least 21 years old and are on private property.
Marijuana users in those communities still face risks because state law bars marijuana use and possession unless it's medical marijuana.
Ferndale's police chief has said his officers still will enforce the state law.
The Safer Michigan Coalition provided legal and consulting services for seven pro-marijuana ballot initiatives since 2011, said Beck, adding that the group wants the state Legislature to support a House bill that "makes small time marijuana use the equivalent of a traffic ticket."
"It's time for law enforcement and the court system to start dealing with real crime, with real victims (and) not harassing consenting adults for something that should not be a crime in the first place," he said.