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Kent County judge hears case regarding decriminalizing marijuana

Grand Rapids residents took to the polls and voted to change the way marijuana possession is handled in the city. The city charter amendment made possession of marijuana a purely civil offense, eliminating criminal penalties for possessing the drug. Under the ordinance, those found in possession of marijuana in Grand Rapids, Michigan will be subject to a ticket and fine -- nothing more.
 
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    April 17, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Kent County judge hears case regarding decriminalizing marijuana

Article provided by Kortes, Lykins, Hunting & Jansma, PLLC
Visit us at http://www.jansmalaw.com

Last November, Grand Rapids residents took to the polls and voted to change the way marijuana possession is handled in the city. The city charter amendment made possession of marijuana a purely civil offense, eliminating criminal penalties for possessing the drug. Under the ordinance, those found in possession of marijuana in Grand Rapids, Michigan will be subject to a ticket and fine -- nothing more.

Shortly after the ordinance was passed, a prosecutor in Kent County filed suit. The prosecutor requested a temporary restraining order, to prevent the ordinance from taking effect while the case was heard. Despite the support of the voters, a Kent County circuit court judge is now determining whether the ordinance should be followed while the case is before the court.

During oral arguments, Kent County prosecutors outlined two issues they have with abiding by the ordinance. First, they dislike the provision that prevents Grand Rapids law enforcement officers from informing prosecutors of known violators. In addition, the prosecutors have questioned whether such an ordinance is sufficient to eliminate criminal penalties for marijuana possession.

The judge's decision at this stage will only determine whether the ordinance decriminalizing marijuana in Grand Rapids will be followed while it is questioned in court. Whether the ordinance is enforceable on a permanent basis will be determined at a later date. There is some precedence in other Michigan cities for the decriminalization of marijuana. In Ann Arbor, marijuana possession only carries civil penalties, involving a $25 fine.

Marijuana laws in Michigan

In general, marijuana possession in Michigan is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. If an individual possesses marijuana in a park, the maximum jail sentence increases to two years. In addition, people in Michigan who are found using marijuana may face penalties of up to 90 days in jail and a $100 fine.

It is important to note that medical marijuana is legal in Michigan. The program has been in place since November 2008, and allows registered Michigan residents with a "qualifying debilitating medical condition" to use marijuana.

The penalties for selling marijuana in Michigan vary, depending on the amount being sold. The penalties range from up to four years in jail and a fine of up to $20,000 for selling less than 5 kg to up to 15 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000,000 for the sale of 45 kg of marijuana or more.

As the laws regarding marijuana vary throughout Michigan, if you are facing marijuana charges it is wise to seek counsel. Consulting with a skilled, Grand Rapids criminal defense attorney will ensure your rights are protected.



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