Conflict between local and state marijuana laws spreads

More Michigan municipalities vote to loosen restrictions on marijuana

On Nov. 4, Michigan voters in six municipalities passed measures decriminalizing marijuana possession, according to MLive.com. While the details of the measures differ in each of the six counties, they all relax enforcement against marijuana possession. However, the measures do not mean that marijuana possession is now entirely legal, even in those six municipalities. Both state and federal law prohibits marijuana possession and people in Michigan could still face a drug charge if caught with the substance.

Decriminalization measures

The municipalities that eased restrictions on marijuana use and possession this month are Saginaw, Huntington Woods, Berkley, Pleasant Ridge, Mount Pleasant, and Port Huron. In some of those municipalities, the measures get rid of any local laws that already prohibited the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Other municipalities simply made it harder for police to charge people with marijuana possession, while other municipalities forbade their local lawmakers from passing any new ordinance that would ban the use and possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. The six municipalities join seven other communities that have already relaxed restrictions on recreational marijuana use. According to the Detroit News, Kalamazoo was the first community in the state to pass such a measure.

State and federal laws still apply

People in the 13 municipalities where relaxed marijuana laws have been passed may be under the false impression that marijuana possession is now completely legal in those areas. The fact is that state and federal laws still both prohibit marijuana possession, although Michigan itself has legalized medical marijuana. Regardless of moves by local representatives, people throughout Michigan can still be charged with a crime for possessing marijuana.

The measures do, however, show that support for marijuana decriminalization is spreading. Proponents of the measures hope that their approval will send a message to both state and federal authorities that voters want more relaxed drug laws.

Drug crime defense

Although voters in Michigan are increasingly showing a willingness to no longer treat marijuana possession as a criminal matter, the truth is that state and federal laws have yet to keep up with popular opinion. Being charged with any drug offense, including for marijuana, continues to carry severe consequences for offenders.

Anybody currently facing a drug charge should get in touch with a criminal defense attorney right away. Defendants should never rely on expected leniency from either police or the courts when it comes to drug crimes and an experienced attorney can provide defendants with the help they need in effectively combating such charges.