Michigan voters passed a proposal in November to legalize recreational marijuana for folks more than age 21. (Photo: File photo)
Let the record show: Marijuana smokers, sniffers and supporters can breathe simpler.
Location police agencies have barely ticketed marijuana customers given that Dec. six, when the intoxicating plant was legalized for recreational adult purposes.
Sixteen agencies surveyed ticketed about 50 folks from the legal date by means of March 31. That compares to 670 for the very same period the year just before.
“The folks in the state of Michigan have spoken,” mentioned Chad Baugh, Canton’s deputy director of police. “Our job is to reflect what the neighborhood and the state want.”
Of the surveyed agencies, Canton cited the most folks — 32 — for marijuana-associated possession and other marijuana incidents. That compared to 135 the year just before for the very same period.
Livonia came in second, citing five compared to 156 the year just before for the very same December by means of March time span.
More: Novi joins other communities in banning marijuana businesses after passage of Proposal 1
Proposal 1 permits a person to have 2.5 ounces of marijuana, which can be rolled into a hefty number of joints, depending on the potency. Individuals can grow up to 12 plants for personal consumption. Driving under the influence of marijuana remains illegal.
Police say the low numbers are happening because they’re not finding marijuana while they’re patrolling streets and the leafy substance has been decriminalized. There’s also criticism among law enforcement agencies that the recreational law is vaguely written.
Several communities stayed away from marijuana citations entirely. Some of their police officers explained that the substance colloquially known as pot, weed, hashish and cannabis isn’t a problem in their community. Even if they found it, the law is too new and lacks clarity.
Attorney Barton Morris with the Cannabis Legal Group in Royal Oak said fewer citations were a Proposal 1 goal. But they’re lower than he expected.
He agreed with some police officers that the new law can be vague, especially when it comes to penalties and proof needed for those grossly violating the recreational intent of Proposal 1.
Michigan voters, by a 56-44 percent margin, made their state the 10th in the nation and the first in the Midwest to regulate marijuana like alcohol: You can have some but only within the confines of the law.
Nearly a quarter of Michigan’s communities have banned recreational marijuana businesses because officials claim the November ballot proposal was too vague.
More: Oakland County gets its ‘first licensed marijuana dispensary’
Milford, Farmington, South Lyon, Northville, Plymouth and Wayne are some of the communities that haven’t cited anyone for marijuana possession since the new law took effect.
Milford Police Chief Tom Lindberg said the first arrests for violating Proposal 1 have the potential to move through the courts and shape how law enforcers keep their communities safe.
“That’s going to be a huge learning curve,” the chief said. “Each legislative session is going to want to have its thumbprint.”
While he and his officers may become more tolerant of marijuana possession, the chief said marijuana users should still consider where they bring out their marijuana.
The law specifically states “this act does not authorize … consuming marihuana in a public place.”
“We cannot get to a point where we’re allowing Thursday nights in our Central Park people to be smoking marijuana,” Lindberg said. “All my peers are on board with that.”
Some police officials are concerned marijuana use will cause more traffic crashes. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released a 2018 report indicating crashes are up by 6 percent in Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, compared with neighboring states that haven’t legalized recreational marijuana.
Livonia Police Lt. Greg Yon remains concerned. From his perspective, marijuana cases, search warrants and perhaps seizures are bound to drop because of the new law.
As a law enforcer and as a parent, he said he sees no benefit to legalizing marijuana.
“It’s just one more thing that can put people behind the wheel in an intoxicated state,” Yon said.
Exactly 58% of the nation believes legalized recreational marijuana leads to more dangerous roads, according to the DriversEd.com’s 2019 Cannabis and Cars Report.
The report also concluded that 91% of Americans believe marijuana can impair driving abilities.
A Governors Highway Safety Association study documented that 44% of fatally-injured drivers tested in 2016 tested positive for drugs, up from 28 percent 10 years before. Of the drug-tested, fatally-injured drivers, nearly 40% tested positive for some form of marijuana.
Contact Susan Vela at [email protected] or 248-303-8432. Follow her on Twitter @susanvela.
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