Voters in 6 Michigan Communities Loosen Local Marijuana Laws

by Robert Andretz on November 13, 2014

Young cannabis plants, marijuanaThe November 2014 election results are in, and citizens in 6 Michigan communities voted to either completely decriminalize possession of marijuana in their communities or to deprioritize the enforcement of marijuana laws. Ballot proposals passed in Berkley, Huntington Woods, Mount Pleasant, Pleasant Ridge, Port Huron, and Saginaw. These communities join 9 others where local prohibitions on marijuana possession and/or use have already been relaxed or eliminated altogether, including Ann Arbor, Detroit, Ferndale, Flint, Grand Rapids, Hazel Park, Jackson, Lansing, and Oak Park.

So what does this mean? Possession of marijuana is still illegal under both Michigan and federal law. Under Michigan law, possession of marijuana is still a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine of not more than $2,000. MCL 333.7403(2)(d). Accordingly, anyone in possession of marijuana could still be charged with a crime under state law even if the local law no longer prohibits possession of marijuana. Furthermore, anyone operating a motor vehicle with any amount of marijuana could be charged with Operating a Motor Vehicle with Any Amount of a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance, MCL 257.625(8), unless he or she is a registered medical marijuana patient. See People v. Koon, unpublished opinion per curiam of the Michigan Supreme Court, decided May 21, 2013 (Docket No. 145259). This misdemeanor charge is often called Operating with the Presence of Drugs (OWPD). Moreover, anyone who operates a motor vehicle while “under the influence” of marijuana or while “visibly impaired” by marijuana could also be charged with a misdemeanor. See MCL 257.625(1) & MCL 257.625(3).

The Barone Defense Firm team is committed to defending our clients who have been charged with Operating Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance and Operating with the Presence of Drugs. Please call us at (248) 594-4554 if you or someone you know is ever charged with one of these offenses. We are here to help.


This post was written by...

Robert Andretz – who has written 1 posts on Michigan Drunk Driving Lawyers.

Rob is likely one of the first people who will listen to you about your needs when you contact our Firm. Licensed to practice law in Michigan in 2003, Rob is passionate about counseling clients about the potential legal and collateral consequences of a drunk driving arrest, defending their interests in and out of court, and finding ways to meet their individual needs. Before joining the Barone Defense Firm team in 2012, Rob was a solo attorney in East Lansing serving his clients’ needs primarily in the areas of criminal defense, family law, and mediation. Rob also worked for Third Circuit Court in Detroit as a Research Law Clerk, drafting proposed opinions for judges on topics ranging from antitrust to zoning. Rob graduated cum laude in 2003 from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, with a concentration in litigation. Rob honed his editing skills while serving on the Board of Editors of the Thomas M. Cooley Law Review. Rob also sharpened his trial and appellate advocacy skills as a law student, earning the Certificate of Merit in Trial Workshop and being honored as a finalist in the State of Michigan Moot Court Competition and a quarter-finalist in the National Criminal Procedure Moot Court Tournament. Graduating from Hope College in Holland, Michigan, with a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in Psychology, Rob has a solid background in science. A true Michigander, Rob has lived in West Michigan, Mid-Michigan, and downtown Detroit and has represented clients in courts across the state of Michigan.

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