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Communities Juggle State Marijuana Laws With Recent Local Decriminalization

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OAKLAND COUNTY (WWJ) — With voters in two more local communities — Oak Park and Hazel Park — having recently approved the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana, some believe the issue could finally be gaining some traction within the state legislature.

To date, eleven communities across the state have attempted decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana, and all eleven have succeeded.

Ann Arbor democrat Jeff Irwin introduced a bill in the State House last year that would make decriminalization a statewide law. Irwin feels that the time may be right for the movement to take hold.

“We should be letting adults make their own choices about what they want to put in their bodies,” Irwin said. “Public opinions are changing very, very quickly — I think that Lansing is starting to recognize that. I’m not willing to close the book on something happening this year.”

Among those in a unique position — working in law enforcement in a community that has voted for decriminalization — Ferndale police chief Tim Collins hopes further decriminalization is not taken into account statewide, while his police force continues to uphold current state law.

“There is still a state law that covers that niche,” Collins said. “I hope that they do not do it, but that’s my personal opinion. Marijuana legalization, to me, focuses on one thing and one thing only and that is: what are we doing to our kids?”

Irwin’s House Bill 4623 would look to make Michigan the 17th state to decriminalize small-time marijuana possession.

“If we want to stop the criminal violence that is driving a lot of the trouble that we see on the streets here in Michigan, we need to drive some of that economic activity into the light and into a legitimate space where it can be properly regulated,” Irwin said.

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